Byline: DOUGLAS BOTTING
ON SATURDAY we told how Gerald Durrell, author of the classic book My Family And Other Animals, was dumped by his wife before falling for a zoologist half his age.
Here, in the concluding part of our series, we examine his idyllic childhood in Corfu and reveal how his friendship with a chimp called Chumley ended in tragedy.
OLD, sick and near death, Gerald Durrell recalled with all the pain and longing of remembered youth the magical landfall that had transformed his life .
'It was like being allowed back into Paradise,' he whispered. 'Our arrival in Corfu was like being born for the first time.' Corfu was arguably the most beautiful Mediterranean island then and when the Durrell s arrived in 1935 it was virtually untouched by modern development.
Later, as a celebrated novelist, Gerald's brother Lawrence would recall this Eden as 'one large flea - one enormous, hairy, gnashing flea - and several kinds of bedbug as well, mostly elephant-sized'.
But, then, Larry never shared his ten-year-old brother's delight in the natural world.
'The boy's mad!' exclaimed Larry once. 'Snails in his pockets. . !' As a six-year-old in Bournemouth, several years before the family decamped to the Med, Gerald would take a tribute of slugs, snails, …