Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Part One Hugh Lofting

X The Private Zoo

Page 1 of 2

Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

I DID not think there could be anything left in that garden which we had not seen. But the Doctor took me by the arm and started off down a little narrow path and after many windings and twistings and turnings we found ourselves before a small door in a high stone wall. The Doctor pushed it open.

Inside was still another garden. I had expected to find cages with animals inside them. But there were none to be seen. Instead there were little stone houses here and there all over the garden; and each house had a window and a door. As we walked in, many of these doors opened and animals came running out to us evidently expecting food.

"Haven't the doors any locks on them?" I asked the Doctor.

"Oh yes," he said, "every door has a lock. But in my zoo the doors open from the inside, not from the out. The locks are only there so the animals can go and shut themselves in any time they want to get away from the annoyance of other animals or from people who might come here. Every animal in this zoo stays here because he likes it, not because he is made to."

"They all look very happy and clean," I said. "Would you mind telling me the names of some of them?"

Tired of reading? Add this page to your Bookmarks or Favorites and finish it later.

"Certainly. Well now: that funny-looking thing with plates on his back, nosing under the brick over there, is a South American armadillo. The little chap talking to him is a Canadian woodchuck. They both live in those holes you see at the foot of the wall. The two little beasts doing antics in the pond are a pair of Russian minks-- and that reminds me: I must go and get them some herrings from the town before noon--it is early-closing to-day. That animal just stepping out of his house is an antelope, one of the smaller South African kinds. Now let us move to the other side of those bushes there and I will show you some more."

"Are those deer over there?" I asked.

"DEER!" said the Doctor. "Where do you mean?"

"Over there," I said, pointing--"nibbling the grass border of the bed. There are two of them."

"Oh, that," said the Doctor with a smile. "That isn't two animals: that's one animal with two heads--the only two-headed animal in the world. It's called the 'pushmi-pullyu.' I brought him from Africa. He's very tame-- acts as a kind of night-watchman for my zoo. He only sleeps with one head at a time, you see very handy--the other head stays awake all night."

"Have you any lions or tigers?" I asked as we moved on.

"No," said the Doctor. "It wouldn't be possible to keep them here-- and I wouldn't keep them even if I could. If I had my way, Stubbins, there wouldn't be a single lion or tiger in captivity anywhere in the world. They never take to it. They're never happy. They never settle down. They are always thinking of the big countries they have left behind. You can see it in their eyes, dreaming--dreaming always of the great open spaces where they were born; dreaming of the deep, dark jungles where their mothers first taught them how to scent and track the deer. And what are they given in exchange for all this?" asked the Doctor, stopping in his walk and growing all red and angry--"What are they given in exchange for the glory of an African sunrise, for the twilight breeze whispering through the palms, for the green shade of the matted, tangled vines, for the cool, big-starred nights of the desert, for the patter of the waterfall after a hard day's hunt? What, I ask you, are they given in exchange for THESE? Why, a bare cage with iron bars; an ugly piece of dead meat thrust in to them once a day; and a crowd of fools to come and stare at them with open mouths!--No, Stubbins. Lions and tigers, the Big Hunters, should never, never be seen in zoos."

Page 1 of 2 Previous Chapter   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004