Animals Natural Science

Zoo Quest to Guiana

I found this book entrancing and intriguing to read, and David writes very clearly and simply with a fast moving narrative and no redundancy, so that his words paint vivid pictures or images.

Zoo Quest to Guiana by David Attenborough reviewed by Celine

Publisher:  Lutterworth Press, London

Date of publication:  1956 – 2nd impression (1st impression 1956)

Genres:  Natural Science, Wildlife series, Animals


“This is the full story of the highly successful BBC London Zoo expedition to British Guiana, that went to film in the wild, and bring back alive “some of the strangest, some of the loveliest, and some of the most horrifying animals in the world”.

The above is straight from the inside jacket cover of my book. This 183 page story has over 50 photographs including 5 in full colour, and is a treat to read if you have an interest in the animals and plants of Guiana, which is in South America, or an interest in David Attenborough and / or natural science. British Guiana is now known as Guyana.

click on picture for location of Guyana (formerly British Guiana)

David Attenborough was born at Isle-worth in Middlesex in 1926. He won a scholarship to Clare College Cambridge where he read zoology, geology and mineralogy and took an Honours Degree in Natural Science. In 1952 he joined the BBC. Here is a photo of him on the back cover of my book, at age 30 in 1956 after completing 3 months in Guiana with 3 other people.

I found this book entrancing and intriguing to read, and David writes very clearly and simply with a fast moving narrative and no redundancy, so that his words paint vivid pictures or images. The enthusiasm and vigor of his team in pursuing their scientific interests is outstanding, and an amazing and sometimes startling array of animals is portrayed.

You can learn about the sleepy sloth whom gave them a surprise, when she turned out to be a mother, and about the peccary whom was named Houdini for his frequent determined escapes; and about amazing leaf-cutter ants, rare birds and other creatures, and some of the ceremonies or functions of the native people whom inhabited Guiana then.

I was over the moon when the team met some tame capybaras, because I found out about these curious creatures from the Rodent family years ago, and I really like them, for some reason. Well these friendly whistling creatures were raised as babies by a Guianan family, and would only go into the water when the human children did so!

Altogether a highly satisfying easy read, the 2nd of BBC London Zoo’s expeditions. The first was to Sierra Leone in 1954. David Attenborough produced the popular “Zoo Quest series“, a series of multi-part nature documentaries broadcast on the BBC Television Service between 1954 and 1963. There’s no book about David’s expedition to Sierra Leone but it is covered by a Zoo Quest broadcast — which I have never watched !!

Did I say that I LOVE David Attenborough?

Well I do, and I have met him also, in the early 1980s and will never forget the warmth and sparkle in his eyes and his devoted attention to me, at an Australian bookstore as I waved a copy of “Life on Earth” around for him to autograph. I was supposed to have bought “The Living Planet” (published in 1984) to have him sign, but I was a biology graduate and a poor one too.

I couldn’t afford to buy David’s new book, but never one for letting so-called obstacles stop me from getting what I want, I stood in a long line, clutching the good ol’ trusty “Life on Earth” and explained to David my predicament. He did look surprised for a moment but then he graciously signed my book and even said to me “Good luck with your studies.” A proud and love-struck girl wandered off, clutching the book like gold, and has never stopped being proud and love-struck.

I found two Bibliographies of David Attenborough’s books which I list below. I am very happy and excited and grateful that last Christmas, my partner gave me 6 David Attenborough books to read.

I had badly been wanting to read “Quest for a Dragon” which is what I will read next. The seller of this collection wrote on my copy of “Zoo Quest to Guiana”

Fine copies of 6 Zoo Quest series, including 4 first editions. Scarce in this condition.

Needless to say I love all of my new books, which indeed are in excellent condition including being wrapped in protective cellophane covers. If Hogwarts gave me a potion for eternal life, I would un-hesitatingly give it to David Attenborough.

Copyright notice: this article may not be used as someone else’s work, or reproduced without credit to the author.