The Man Who Ate the Zoo

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN MEAGHER

Richard Gir­ling

Vin­tage, 400 pages, €13.99

Any­body who thinks the Vic­to­ri­ans were all stuffy con­ser­va­tives firmly stuck in their ways should read this book. It tells the story of Frank Buck­land — one of the great ec­centrics of the age — and how he came to in­ter­est an en­tire gen­er­a­tion in ex­otic an­i­mals.

A trained sur­geon, Buck­land would go on to write hugely pop­u­lar ar­ti­cles on nat­u­ral his­tory — he was very much the David At­ten­bor­ough of his day. But it was his in­ter­est in the eat­ing of es­pe­cially ex­otic crea­tures from which most of his famed de­rived. In the name of sci­ence and in an ef­fort to find the food to feed the hun­gry, he sam­pled gi­raffe, ele­phant, boa con­stric­tor, rhino as well as a live frog. “He never,” Gir­ling writes, “lost the ca­pac­ity for won­der.”

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