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British & Irish Zoos (General)

2009. ASHBY, ALAN. We Went to the Zoo Today: The Golden Age of Zoo Postcards. Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society, Todmorden, Lancs. Hb. 119 pp.
With so many picture postcard collectors around, particularly collectors of zoo postcards, it is surprising that seemingly nobody has had the nous to publish a book on the subject before. This beautifully illustrated book, containing almost two hundred of the best postcards, reminds us how much better zoo postcards were in the past. Nowadays zoo postcards are just too generic and tend to show the animal in close up, a photo which could have been taken at any zoo, whereas once upon a time the postcard would have shown the enclosure, the visitors crowding round, or the animal's keeper, in addition to the animal itself. The author also talks about the history of the picture postcard and helpfully provides a guide on how we may date the cards in our collection. 
 
1969. BERGAMAR, KATE. Zoos, Bird Gardens & Animal Collections in Great Britain & Eire. Shire Publications, Tring, Herts. Pb. 71 pp.
A slim, pocket-sized and rather precious guide to over 120 animal collections, with details of hours of opening, prices of admission, party concessions, location, type of collection, special exhibits, and attractions for children. The various collections are described only very briefly, some in no more than a few cursory lines. A revised, even shorter, edition of 64 pages was published in 1970, by which time Kate Bergamar had been joined in her task as compiler by John Rotheroe. I should like to know whether there were any other editions. Both editions suffered by the method of binding used. The pages are only glued to the spine and become detached quite easily.

2009. BROWN, TIM. The IZES Guide to British Zoos & Aquariums. Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society, Todmorden, Lancs. Pb. 178 pp.
Tim Brown is the Chairman of the Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society, and in 2009 he published an honest, critical but above all helpful appraisal of the British zoo scene. All the major zoos and the most important smaller collections are covered in detail, but there is a staggering number of very small animal collections and these are discussed, too. Even the Logan Fish Pond is described. Anthony Smith, in his own guide to British zoos, published in the mid 1970s, regretted not being more critical; Tim Brown is not afraid of criticising where he feels criticism is due, and the book is all the better for it. There have been other guides to British zoos in the three decades since Anthony Smith gave us his magnum opus, most notably John Ironmonger's The Good Zoo Guide but Tim Brown's is the first for over 30 years to cover every animal collection in Britain. The handy pocket-sized format makes it easy to take around with you. The thing that lets it down is the absence of illustrations, save for those on the cover.
 
1988. BUCKLEY, JO (collator). Zoo Tails: True Stories of Britain's Zoo Animals. Planet Books, a division of W.H. Allen & Co. plc. Hb. 96 pp.
Stories of individual animals held at some of Britain's zoos. Each essay is contributed by the zoo's director or owner, or by a prominent member of staff. To give just a few random examples: Lady Fisher of Kilverstone Wildlife Park wrote about one of her kinkajous; Malcolm Whitehead, then employed at Twycross Zoo, wrote about a favourite chimpanzee; RodRayment about some European Grey Cranes at Stagsden Bird Gardens; Doug Petrie about morning inspection at Southport Zoo; Martin Goymour about the Snow Leopards of Banham Zoo; Simon Hicks, Jambo the gorilla at Jersey Zoo; Nick Jackson, a Wedgetailed Eagle at Welsh Mountain Zoo; John Knowles, a Przewalski stallion at Marwell; Betty Risden, the macaws of the Tropical Bird Gardens, Rode; Lee Thomas, a Binturong at Colchester Zoo; Ken Sims, the otters of Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens; and many more, in all a total of 29 stories. Illustrated with colour photos.
  
1975. CHIPPERFIELD, JIMMY. My Wild Life. Macmillan London Ltd. Hb. 219 pp.
The autobiography of Jimmy Chipperfield. British safari parks mentioned in his text are: Blair Drummond, Knowsley, Lambton Lion Park, Loch Lomond Bear Park, Longleat, Stapleford Lion Reserve, West Midland, and Woburn.
 
1979. GOODERS, JOHN. A Day in the Country. Andre Deutsch Ltd., London. Hb. 255 pp.
This book, by a well-known ornithologist, does not restrict itself to zoological gardens but covers any place which might appeal to the naturalist or animal-lover. Thus, national parks and nature reserves are also included. In all there are descriptions of 39 animal collections. All the major zoos of Britain are described – though surely descriptions of such city zoos as those of London and Dudley is stretching the book’s remit somewhat – but absent are many of the smaller collections. In his introduction, the late John Gooders admits that his selection was entirely personal and not intended to be a complete list. Originally it contained no photographs, only simple sketches; this was rectified when a new edition was published in 1988 by Grange Books, London, under the more apposite title The Outdoor Guide to Britain. A 192-page revised edition, also in hardback, was published in 1989 by Webb & Bower Ltd., in association with Michael Joseph Ltd., and reprinted in 1993.


1992. IRONMONGER, JOHN. The Good Zoo Guide. HarperCollins, London. Pb. 208 pp.
An objective and detailed look at 31 of our best-known collections. Notice I say 'best-known', because, despite the title, it seems that the selection criteria was based more on how important, famous or representative an animal collection was, rather than whether it truly deserved to be included in the pantheon of British zoos. I can think of a number of very worthy animal collections which are cruelly excluded, and a couple of others which are described in detail but which do not, in my opinion, represent the best of British zoos. Refreshingly, John Ironmonger is not afraid to offer constructive criticism where he feels it is due, and the zoos concerned would be wise to take note. Also contains a list of where to find the mammals. Where a species is displayed at a certain zoo, the exhibit is rated, and it is an interesting exercise to compare one's own opinion of the exhibit with that of the author. Finally there is a list of other British zoos, those that didn't make it into the main section of the book, with a sentence or a brief paragraph about each one. The publishers claim that this was the 'first factual, critical and helpful account of British zoos and wildlife parks' was not true; nonetheless, an indispensable guide. John Ironmonger later went on to develop The Good Zoo Guide online. 

1982. JACOBS, GEORGE, as told to WOOD, FRANKLYN. Memoirs of a Coarse Zoo Keeper. Frederick Muller, London. Hb. 256 pp.
The front cover shows George Jacobs (at least I presume it is George Jacobs; as he has his back to the camera one can't be sure) tugging on the tail of an elephant, though for what reason is difficult to say. Memoirs of a Coarse Zoo Keeper is both lively and outspoken. It tells of his considerable zoo experience at Jersey Zoo, Howletts, London Zoo, Windsor Safari Park, Chessington and Cricket St. Thomas. Despite the odd title (which makes it sound like a risqué Confessions of…), there is hardly any trace of vulgarity in the book.

1984. KEELING, C.H. Where the Lion Trod. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 84 pp. 
Zoological gardens come and zoological gardens go, and most are soon forgotten, lamented only by true aficionados. As one of the first zoo historians, Bartlett Society founder Clinton Keeling investigated some of these long-closed collections (by no means an easy task as some have left little trace in any archives that they ever existed) and recorded their stories for posterity. This resulted in 1984 in Where the Lion Trod. He had not intended it to become the first in a whole series of similar books, but the more he delved into the subject, the more he discovered about other long-lost collections. In most cases he found himself telling their stories for the first time. The books are a mine of information, much of it previously unpublished, but are let down by the poor quality of the photos. Unfortunately the author did not include an index in any of these books. This omission has now been rectified, and an index, prepared by Bartlett Society membership secretary, Christine Grant, is available. Other books in the series, all written in the same vein, are: 
 
1985. KEELING, C.H. Where the Crane Danced. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 146 pp.
 
1989. KEELING, C.H. Where the Zebu Grazed. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 107 pp. 

1991. KEELING, C.H. Where the Elephant Walked. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 141 pp. 

1993. KEELING, C.H. Where the Macaw Preened. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 98 pp.
 
1995. KEELING, C.H. Where the Penguin Plunged. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 104 pp. 

1999. KEELING, C.H. Where the Leopard Lazed. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 156 pp.
 
2002. KEELING, C.H. Where the Peacock Screamed. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 140 pp. 

2003. KEELING, C.H. Where the Camel Strode. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 99 pp.
 
2010.  KEELING, C.H. Where the Coati Climbed. Clam Publications, Guildford, Surrey. Pb. 52 pp. 
 This last book, which was to have been the tenth in the "Where The..." series from Clam Publications, is unfinished. At the time of his death in 2007, Clinton Keeling had completed just the first seven chapters. Eventually it was decided to publish the book as a posthumous fragment to be deposited at the Library of the Zoological Society of London and in the Archive of the Bartlett Society. 

1977. MORRIS, JOHNNY. Johnny Morris Looks at the Zoo. Hamlyn, London. Hb. 61 pp.
As the host of the popular children's television programme 'Animal Magic' for over twenty years from 1962 to 1983, the avuncular Johnny Morris portrayed a rather old-fashioned kind of zoo-keeper, complete with peak cap, and this book was a blatant attempt to capitalise on the programme's success, but there can be little doubt this genial man, whom many younger TV viewers believed was a genuine keeper, inspired many children to want to become zoo-keepers, myself included. The many colour photographs were taken  at a variety of British zoos, including London, Whipsnade, Bristol and Twycross.

1989. NICHOL, JOHN. A Guide to Zoos and Specialist Collections. Christopher Helm Ltd., Bromley, Kent. Pb. 156 pp.
The publisher's blurb states that over 200 of Britain’s best animal collections are described (two of which are actually in Eire), but this impressive figure is not borne out by the index, which lists a mere 103 collections. The main problem with this book is that there is no consistency over which collections are included and which are ignored. It concentrates, as perhaps the title does hint, on the smaller, specialist collections – some of which would not be thought of as zoos in the traditional sense of the word – but at the expense of some of the larger, better known collections. The most notable absentee is London Zoo (but its sister collection at Whipsnade is included). That's right, our national zoo, our oldest and most famous animal collection, is omitted. Glasgow’s Zoo is included, but not Edinburgh’s (although Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World is); Dublin’s Zoo is described, but not Belfast’s. Such inexplicable omissions do rather compromise the publisher's claim that this is a ‘comprehensive’ book and a 'really complete and detailed guide’. Selective would be a more fitting description. It was compiled by the use of questionnaires, rather than personal visits, and I rather suspect that many of the missing collections are those that failed to return their questionnaire.  

1974. ROBINS, K.F. and RADFORD, M.A. Wildlife '74–76. Interzoo Publications, Burnham, Bucks. Pb. 120 pp.
An illustrated, pocket-sized, reference guide to over 100 traditional zoos, safari parks, bird gardens and public aquaria. What I said above about the poor method of binding for Kate Bergamar's Zoos, Bird Gardens & Animal Collections in Great Britain & Eire applies to this one, too.

1957. SCHOMBERG, GEOFFREY. British Zoos: A Study of Animals in Captivity. Allan Wingate Ltd., London. Hb. 194 pp.
Conscious that a disproportionate number of zoo books were about London and Whipsnade Zoos, Geoffrey Schomberg produced a book which attempted to redress the balance. The two zoos of the Zoological Society of London are mentioned only briefly in passing, and the emphasis is placed very firmly on the other British (and Irish) zoos that hitherto had been largely ignored by other authors. Over sixty black-and-white photographs. A seminal work.

1970. SCHOMBERG, GEOFFREY. The Penguin Guide to British Zoos. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex. Pb. 176 pp.
The publisher's blurb calls this 'The first full guide to over 80 zoos and bird gardens in the British Isles', which is untrue as by then there had been at least two similar books published, one in 1966 and another in 1969, but the publishers and author may not have been aware of these slim and little-known efforts by other writers. But that (and perhaps the absence of illustrations) is my only gripe about this otherwise excellent book. Many of the zoos described here are consigned to history now, but it is fascinating to see how the survivors have developed in the decades since this book was written, of which Banham Zoo is perhaps the best example.

1976. SCHOMBERG, GEOFFREY and WILLIAMSON, KENNETH (editors). Wildlife in Britain. The Automobile Association, Basingstoke, Hampshire. Hb. 344 pp.
A comprehensive guide to places where you could expect to see wildlife, both native and exotic, in Britain. Although only about half the book is devoted to zoological gardens, safari parks, bird gardens, public aquaria and the like (the other half covers nature reserves and national parks), it is difficult to think of any wildlife collection, extant in the mid 1970s, that is not included. Major zoos are described at great length (London Zoo, for example, is allotted ten full pages); smaller and less important collections are given proportionately less space. Geoffrey Schomberg was more than just a joint editor; he wrote all the zoo entries himself. The book is not as well known as his previous one on the same subject, The Penguin Guide to British Zoos (1970). In his earlier book he was not afraid to criticise where zoos failed to come up to an acceptable standard; this time he simply reports without passing judgement on poor exhibits. Contains a surprising amount of information (habits, diet, etc.) about many of the animals on view.

2012. SIMONS, JOHN. The Tiger that Swallowed the Boy: Exotic Animals in Victorian England. Libri Publishing, Faringdon, Oxfordshire. Pb. 196 pp.
A companion volume to the author's 'Rossetti's Wombat' (see 'Animals' section of this bibliography), which explored similar themes, he examines some of the exotic and unexpected animals that occasionally cropped up, much to the bemusement, if not alarm, of the populace, in the zoological gardens, travelling and private menageries, circuses and natural history museums of nineteenth century Britain. Illustrated.

1977. SMITH, ANTHONY. Animals on View. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. Hb. 224 pp.
A highly personal account to over 180 animal collections found on mainland Great Britain at that time. The author's enthusiasm for zoos shines from every page. Books of this kind provide a poignant reminder of those collections which have since closed down. One criticism I have of this otherwise excellent book is that the author tried too hard to include almost every place where captive animals could be seen, leading to the slightly ridiculous situation whereby the odd-garden centre, botanical gardens, or deer herd at a stately home, is included in what was intended to be a book about zoos. The author had something of a downer on lions and frequently complains about their omnipresence in zoos. Nowadays, of course, the African Lion is a threatened species. A handy, pocket-sized, paperback edition appeared in 1979, and the author took the opportunity at the same time to update the book. This new edition was published by Granada Publishing Ltd. in Mayflower Books and runs to 293 pages.   


1976. TAYLOR, DAVID. Zoovet: The World of a Wildlife Vet. George Allen & Unwin, London. Hb.
Also in paperback. Few zoos can afford to employ a resident veterinary surgeon. Most have to rely on the services of an independent consultant vet. David Taylor was one of the first vets to specialise in the treatment of zoo animals. His career took him to zoos all over the world. Following hard on the heels of another famous vet, Alf Wight (aka James Herriot), he immortalised his experiences in a series of books, which formed the basis for the popular BBC TV family drama series in the 1980s 'One by One'. Among his other books are:
 
1978. TAYLOR, DAVID. Doctor in the Zoo. George Allen & Unwin. Hb.
Also in paperback.
 
1980. TAYLOR, DAVID. Going Wild. George Allen & Unwin. Hb.
Also in paperback.
 
1982. TAYLOR, DAVID. Next Panda, Please! Further Adventures of a Wildlife Vet. George Allen & Unwin. Hb. 
First paperback edition published by Unwin Paperbacks 1984.
 
1984. TAYLOR, DAVID. One By One. Book Club Associates, London. Hb.638 pp.
An omnibus collection in a single volume of Zoovet, Doctor in the Zoo, and Going Wild.
 
1984. TAYLOR, DAVID. The Wandering Whale and Other Adventures from a Zoovet's Casebook. George Allen & Unwin. Hb.
First paperback edition published by Unwin Paperbacks 1985.
 
1986. TAYLOR, DAVID. Dragon Doctor.
Also in paperback.
 
1990. TAYLOR, DAVID. Vet on the Wild Side. Robson Books Ltd. Hb.
First paperback edition published by Arrow Books Ltd. 1991.
 
1994. TAYLOR, DAVID. The Patient Elephant.
Also in paperback.
 
1963. THOMPSON, RALPH. A Brush with Animals. Rupert Hart-Davis, London. Hb.
The late Ralph Thompson, who became famous as the illustrator of many of Gerald Durrell's early books, describes how he perfected his technique of lightning sketches of animals made during visits to London Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo and Jersey Zoo. Introduction by Gerald Durrell.
 
2012. TOFTS, RUSSELL. Animals in the Blood: The Ken Smith Story. The Bartlett Society. Hb. 284 pp. 
A good all-round animal-man, Kenneth Smith was, for many years, Gerald Durrell's business partner, and it is hard to imagine anyone with more experience of looking after wild animals. He helped Durrell launch Jersey Zoo and was manager there for the first four years. He had also worked at the old Oxford Zoological Gardens, Whipsnade Zoo, Calderpark (Glasgow) Zoo, Belle Vue Zoo Park (Manchester), and had managed Paignton Zoo and Margate (Lido) Mini Zoo & Aquarium. In between his zoo-keeping jobs, he managed to fit in several live animal-collecting expeditions to Africa and South America. In his later years he was the owner and director of Exmouth Zoo, Poole Park Children's Zoo, Shaldon Zoo, and Newquay Children's Zoo. In his lifetime he never got the recognition he so thoroughly deserved. This book tells his life's story for the first time and was written to ensure the name "Ken Smith" will still mean something to future zoo enthusiasts. Well illustrated. This book was published on 29 April 2012.  
 

'Animals in the Blood - The Ken Smith Story - A Biography of Gerald Durrell's Right-Hand Man' by Russell Tofts

Our new book, launched Sunday 29 April 2012 at Shaldon Wildlife Trust, available to order now

 

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