This is a memoir piece (and apparently part of a set of four) from Gerald Durrell, brother of Alexandria’s Lawrence Durrell, and also the writer of the series My Family and Other Animals. This memoir is about the various trips he and his wife made in the 1960s looking for animals to create a zoo. They begin in Nigeria and West Africa picking up a lemur here, a bush baby there, and eventually look for larger animals as they go. The premise, according to Durrell, is to look for the animals first and then begin the process of selecting a site and working from there. So the title of the book comes from this inversion of how things are normally done.
The book is very funny and charming, but you have to put some work into it as well, lest you be truly horrified by a handful of things about it.
The book is 60 years old and so its animal rights’ politics seems generally sympathetic for the time, but obviously do not hold with conservation standards of today. He’s still probably very progressive today in a lot of respects, but would not be doing what he’s doing in this manner.
Same goes with racial politics. He spends a lot of time in Africa, and while he’s sympathetic and kind to the people he meets and does not treat them particularly as unequals, that does not mean that he’s treated them in racially sound ways. His manners and customs are avowedly racist today but sympathetic for his own time.