The Aye-Aye and I: A Rescue Journey to Save One of the World's Most Intriguing Creatures from Extinction

Overview

Here is the riveting tale of Gerald Durrell's adventures and misadventures in the enchanted forests of Madagascar, in search of the elusive Aye-aye.

Once thought to be extinct, the Aye-aye, the beast with the magic finger, still lurks, though in fast dwindling numbers, in the forests of Madagascar. Durrell's mission to help save this strange creature turns into a madcap journey in which you will meet not only the enigmatic Aye-aye, but the catlike Fosa, the Flat-tailed tortoise,...

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Overview

Here is the riveting tale of Gerald Durrell's adventures and misadventures in the enchanted forests of Madagascar, in search of the elusive Aye-aye.

Once thought to be extinct, the Aye-aye, the beast with the magic finger, still lurks, though in fast dwindling numbers, in the forests of Madagascar. Durrell's mission to help save this strange creature turns into a madcap journey in which you will meet not only the enigmatic Aye-aye, but the catlike Fosa, the Flat-tailed tortoise, the Gentle lemurs of Lac Alaotra, and the Malagasy chameleons, among others. Truly nothing escapes Durrell's sharp eye, whether he is describing the great zoma (market), the village dances, the treacherous bridges and river crossings, the strange foods and stranger music, or the vagaries of local officialdom.

As the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "It is impossible for Gerald Durrell to write anything that is less than exuberant, eccentric, and amusing." And in his account of this "rescue mission", Durrell is, quite simply, at his superb best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Age cannot wither nor custom stale the boundless enthusiasm of Durrell ( The Ark's Anniversary ) in his efforts to rescue endangered species. Here he is in Madagascar--with his wife, Lee, and a BBC crew--to film and to capture for breeding the rare aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur of Africa's east coast rain forests. As his party travels through the countryside over impossible roads and rickety bridges, Durrell gives marvelous descriptions of inns and markets. Once settled in camp, he is able to find an aye-aye captive at the Biosphere Reserve, but the wild ones remain elusive. After the film crew departs, Durrell and his scouts come upon six aye-ayes for his Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, plus a mate for the captive aye-aye. Adventure, humor and a serious scientific mission add up to first-rate entertainment. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal
What do you do when you are an avid naturalist, founder and head of the noted Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, and you have a spiritual experience with a little-known, extremely rare primate called an aye-aye? If you are the author, you muster an expedition to film and capture the creature to preserve it for future generation. Like its predecessors (e.g., The Ark's Anniversary , LJ 8/91), Durrell's 24th book is an often humorous romp to a faraway place--this time, the island of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa. Readers will be entertained by Durrell's descriptions of events that occurred during the expedition to capture a breeding population of aye-aye. Durrell also gives readers a feel for the difficulties encountered in dealing with the politics and inconveniences of Third World countries, but never in a derogatory or sarcastic manner. The Aye-Aye and I is rich in description yet never bogs down in scientific detail. For popular natural history collections.-- Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
Booknews
The famous wildlife conservator collects the rare mammal for his captive breeding program. A rollicking good story. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Another delightful excursion into nature by the always amusing Durrell, who's proving to be as prolific as many of his animal charges (Marrying Off Mother, 1992; The Ark's Anniversary, 1991—and 23 other titles). Once again, Durrell is off to collect another candidate for his admirable Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, which builds up breeding colonies of endangered species on the island of Jersey off the English coast. This time, his quarry is one of the strangest and least studied creatures in God's zoo—the elusive aye-aye, a rare lemur found only on Madagascar. To Durrell, it resembles nothing so much as "a Walt Disney witch's black cat with a touch of E.T. thrown in"; most prominent of its many strange features (which include "spoonlike ears turning to and fro independently like radar dishes") is its elongated third finger, much sought-after by village sorcerers as a magic charm. Upon arriving in Madagascar, Durrell spends much of his time sitting on the toilet, a victim of the runs. But he gets around enough to admire the island's exotic markets, language, and women, and to deplore the deforestation that has denuded so much of the landscape and threatens the habitat of many species. Soon enough, as always in a Durrell book, the animals themselves take center stage. In addition to the chief target, Durrell collects endangered flat-tailed tortoises, gentle lemurs, and giant jumping rats the size of cats. He also spies the most elusive of Madagascar creatures, the puma-like Fosa, as well as hammerhead shark, ploughshare tortoises, and dense clouds of houseflies ("the tent poles were black with them, the table top a black moving tablecloth of them"). Finally, after funnytribulations, including an encounter with a native soothsayer, he scores six aye-ayes, now safe and snug and, one hopes, making baby aye-ayes in Jersey. A hearty "aye" for this one. (Eight-page color insert—not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671884390
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/12/1994
  • Edition description: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 0.43 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Table of Contents

A Word in Advance 1
The Vanishing Lake 5
A Flood of Lemurs 22
An Interlude with Yniphora 39
Jumping Rats and Kapidolo 51
The Hunt Begins 70
Crystal Country and Beyond 88
Verity the Vespertine 103
The Soothsayer's Apprentices 123
The Arrival of the Aye-aye 137
The Flight of the Magic Finger 151
Epilogue 169
Index 171
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