Durrell, Gerald (1925-1995) was a British naturalist and author. He is best known for his work in wildlife preservation and his books on animals.
Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India, on Jan. 7, 1925. His father, Lawrence Samuel Durrell, died when Durrell was 3 years old. In 1928, the family moved to England. In 1935, they settled on the island of Corfu and lived there until 1939. During his years on Corfu, Durrell learned zoology from an Indian-born Greek doctor and naturalist and kept a large number of pets. After the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945), the family returned to England. Durrell took a job at a pet store and spent much of his free time at the London zoo.
In 1945, Durrell joined the staff of the Whipsnade Zoological Society Park in Bedfordshire as a student keeper. There he learned about the endangerment of rare species. In 1947, he organized, financed, and led his first animal-collecting expedition to the British Cameroons to find species for European zoos. He returned to the Cameroons in 1949 and then traveled to Madagascar, Mexico, Australia, and other places to collect animals for zoos in Europe and North America, particularly rare and endangered animals. These trips depleted Durrell's finances. His brother, Lawrence, suggested he write books to help fund his expeditions. Durrell wrote The Overloaded Ark, The Bafut Beagles, and Three Singles to Adventure. He went on to become a prolific writer and publish 38 books.
With his first wife, Jacquiline Sonia Rasen, Durrell developed a television series, “Two in the Bush.” In 1959, he founded the Jersey Zoological Park. He served as director, and in 1964, he founded The Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. Durrell's second wife, American zoologist Lee Wilson McGeorge, took over the Wildlife Preservation Trust after his death on Jan. 30, 1995.