Danielle Clode reviews 'Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest expeditions' by David Attenborough

David Attenborough turned ninety last year. In a short animation celebrating his birthday, two Aardman penguins muse on their first meeting with the famous naturalist. ‘There’s something just about him,’ says the first penguin. ‘I don’t know why you wouldn’t love David Attenborough,’ declares the second. Indeed, it is hard to find anyone who does not admire Attenborough. Over the decades his work has fundamentally has shaped the way we think about ‘wilderness’ and the natural world. His influence on nature education and conservation – and modern broadcasting – is incalculable. It is rather astonishing to think that Attenborough has been making nature documentaries for longer than most of us have been alive.

In many ways, Attenborough’s long career maps out our changing attitudes to nature conservation. Adventures of a Young Naturalist is a compilation of three books originally written and published in the 1950s about Attenborough’s earliest expeditions – to Guyana, Paraguay, and Indonesia. The Zoo Quest programs were collecting expeditions, documenting the capture of wild animals for the London Zoo. They are more reminiscent of the hands-on physicality and showmanship of Harry Butler or Steve Irwin than of the quiet, non-interventionist observation of modern Attenborough documentaries. If the approach has dated, there is no denying the good intentions and the importance of such endeavours in promoting conservation and environmental protection in many places that might otherwise have been ignored.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are already a subscriber, click here, or on the ‘Log In’ tab in the top right hand corner of the screen, and enter your username and password to log in. If you have logged in but are still seeing this message your subscription to ABR Online may have expired. Please contact us or click here to renew your subscription to ABR Online. More information about ABR Online can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.