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About the book
  • Published: 15 November 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701611
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $22.99

The Man Who Ate the Zoo

Frank Buckland, forgotten hero of natural history

A lively and fascinating biography of Frank Buckland, ‘the David Attenborough of the Victorian era' - surgeon, natural historian, bestselling writer and early conservationist.

Frank Buckland was an extraordinary man – surgeon, natural historian, popular lecturer, bestselling writer, museum curator, and a conservationist before the concept even existed.

Eccentric, revolutionary, prolific, he was one of the nineteenth century’s most improbable geniuses. His lifelong passion was to discover new ways to feed the hungry. Rhinoceros, crocodile, puppy-dog, giraffe, kangaroo, bear and panther all had their chance to impress, but what finally - and, eventually, fatally - obsessed him was fish.

Forgotten now, he was one of the most original, far-sighted and influential natural scientists of his time, held as high in public esteem as his great philosophical enemy, Charles Darwin.

  • Pub date: 15 November 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701611
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Richard Girling

Richard Girling is an award-winning environmental journalist. For his work in the Sunday Times he was named Specialist Writer of the Year in the UK Press Awards in 2002, and was shortlisted for the same award in 2005 and 2006. He was Journalist of the Year at the Press Gazette Environmental Press Awards in 2008 and 2009. He has written seven books - most recently, The Hunt for the Golden Mole.

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Praise for The Man Who Ate the Zoo

“Hugely entertaining.”

Jeremy Paxman

“[A] tumultuously entertaining biography… [An] irresistibly engaging book.”

Sunday Times

“A rollicking ride through eccentric Victorian England. Frank Buckland is the most engaging of subjects...Girling's infectious enthusiasm for his subject shines through”

The Times

“Girling brings to rip-roaring life a fascinating Victorian figure of whom few have ever heard; I so wish I could invite Frank Buckland over for dinner.”

Dave Goulson, author of A Sting in the Tale

“An irresistibly engaging account of the life of the David Attenborough of the Victorian era.”

Sunday Times

“[A] rousing, brilliantly written book.”

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

“This brilliantly entertaining biography argues persuasively why his memory, too, is worthy of conservation.”

The Economist

“A rollicking biography.”

National Geographical Traveller

“[An] engaging book… The anecdotes will, of course, keep you turning the pages, but the author never loses sight of Buckland’s importance as a scientific figure.”

Eastern Daily Press

“[A] lively biography.”


“A long-overdue corrective… Girling is an amiable companion with whom to wander the maze of Buckland’s life.”

Tim Auld, Daily Telegraph

“It was a delight to be introduced to this largely forgotten polymath of that great age of scientific discovery, the 19th century.”

Tony Rennell, Daily Mail

“After decades of neglect, Richard Girling has brought Buckland out of the shadows with panache. Buckland was clearly a man of parts who exuded bonhomie from every pore… It is impossible not to be left with the impression that Frank Buckland was one of the most remarkable men who ever lived; and Girling does him proud”

Serenhedd James, Church Times

“Richard Girling’s engaging biography chronicles Buckland’s visionary ideas on conservation, as well as his many eccentricities.”

Jane Shilling, Daily Mail

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