Best ISC Answers of A Gorilla in the Guest Room : efforts of Gerald Durrell for wildlife conservation

                                     Gerald Durrell with young N’Pongo

A Gorilla in the Guest Room  : By Gerald Durrell

Question : Discuss the efforts made by Gerald Durrell in the story’A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ to establish a zoo with the aim of wildlife conservation.

Answer : Gerald Durrell was a famous naturist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presentet. He was dissatisfied with the zoo’s of that time and believed that the zoos “must cease to be a mere show-place of animals and start to contribute something towards the conservation of wildlife.” In 1959 , he founded Jersey Zoological Park to house rare species of animals.

        “A gorilla in the Guest Room” is the story which tells the reader not only about Durrell’s efforts to establish the zoo, but also his bond with N’ Pongo.

         The story opens up with a letter for Durrell, from an animal dealer offered him a baby Gorilla for twelve hundred pounds. He could not turn this offer as he knew that it is one of the rare and threatened species, and that they should be kept in captivity sooner or later. Although he did not have the twelve hundred pounds to buy the Gorilla but he some  how managed to collect the amount with the help of affluent inhabitants of the island.

        As soon as the money was arranged the gorilla flew over to London Airport and that is how the  gorilla entered Gerald’s life .

      N’ Pongo, the baby gorilla was eighteen inch high and was quite healthy and handsome. He was heavy for his size and had solid bones and muscles.
         Since N’Pongo’s cage was not yet ready, the author decided that he would stay  in their guest room for a couple of days.

      N’Pongo’s child like appearance, but ” his grave, courteous manner and his rather sad expression immediately won over” both Gerald’s wife, his mother as well as his staff were captivated by N’Pongo’s exemplary behaviour.
    The author narrates –
” before long he was lolling back on the sofa while they plied him with delicacies, and the staff came upstairs one by one to pay homage to him as if he were some black potentate “.

 Although his manners were found exemplary, he was not expected to automatically act civilised. Thus when N’Pongo left the Guest Room, it bore his traces.

    N’Pongo was admired for his attractive appearance, disposition, good manners, playful nature and well – developed sense  of humour. His attitude made him the darling of the zoo in a short period of time.

    When N’ Pongo  doubled his size,Gerald realised his need to have a wife for him. He feared that in absence of a companion N’Pongo would turn morose and sad. Gerald thus made all possible efforts and made deal with the dealer to buy on installments, a female gorilla, Nandy for fifteen hundred dollars.

     Gradually N’Pongo and Nandy started getting along and shared the cage. Both of them were different from each other but seemed to adore each other.

         Nandy was afraid and distrustful of human beings. She was the opposite of N’Pongo. N’Pongo was pro human whereas Nandy showed anti human attitude.

       Gerald was always sympathised with Nandy and did not blame her for being anti social as he narrates –
” right across the top of her skull was a scar which must have measured six or seven inches in length. Obviously when she was being caught, some over enthusiastic and intrepid human being had given her a blow with a machete which had split her scalp like a razor slash. “

  Gerald was in a constant state of anxiety over the health of such a pair of rare and valuable animals. To be able to monitor the animals’ health and well-being, he got installed small black boxes to the walls of the zoo through which  the staff could speak with the main office and vice versa. One of the boxes was also installed in Gerald’s flat to apprise him of what was going on in the zoo.

        When Gerald had just arranged to spend three weeks in the south of France for work, then he found that N’Pongo was suffering from a form of colitis. It was just four days to leave for   France,  N’Pongo was started looking pale, he stopped eating and lost weight. He was not even drinking milk and so no antibiotics could be given to him. Later ” his diarrhoea was quite heavily tinged with blood.” Gerald was extremely caring and consulted  vets to give him best medical aid.

    He tried all sort of tricks to made N’ Pongo eat something. To tempt N’Pongo, Gerald and Jacquie bought a bright green watermelon. As soon as N’ was given a slice of it, he displayed signs of interest. This was used to distract him and inject him with antibiotics.

     Gerald was in a dilemma, in next twenty – four hours he had to leave for France but he did not wish to leave N’Pongo unless his health improved. Gerald left Jersey only when he could see the lost sparkle in N’Pongo’s eyes.

   While staying away, he remained in constant touch with his staff to enquire about N’Pongo’s health. On returning back, he was delighted to see N’ Pongo back in his usual self.

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