Animal Review

Fanzine of Herbivorous Youth

Main | Nell | Avner | Gavin Maxwell

From Ring of Bright Water, 1960, by Gavin Maxwell.

... I missed Mij desperately, so much so that it was a year before I could bring myself to go to Camusfearna again. I mourned for my fallen sparrow; he had filled that landscape so completely, had made so much his own every yard of that ring of bright water I loved, that it seemed, after he had gone from it, hollow and insufficient; for the first time all the familiar things in which I had taken joy appeared as a stage backcloth against which no player moved.  ... I came back from Sicily in the autumn, and moved house to Chelsea, partly, I must confess, because I found the elaboration of otter-proofing devices that now composed my premises to be too constant and nagging a reminder of my failure to keep alive an animal to which I had given so much attention.  But I had grown accustomed to the continual proximity of an animal, and when one day in Harrods I found a Ring-Tailed Lemur, lately the property of Cyril Connolly, not even the price of seventy-five pounds could discourage me from my folly. Kiko, as she was called, came to live in my new flat. Kiko was an exceedingly beautiful animal rather larger than a very large cat, an haute couture creation in soft blue-grey fur, with a foxy black-and-white face, a great bushy tail of alternating black and white rings, golden eyes, monkey hands with straight needle-pointed claws, and habits that were both insanitary and obscene ....  I think I was fortunate not to have been killed by Kiko ....  I got the tourniquet on and a cigarette lit and began to think about Kiko. The psychoanalysis of a lemur, I realized, would present insuperable problems. She now shares a spacious accommodation with three other Ring-Tailed Lemurs in the Chester Zoo. She is still mine, and once I hoped that she would breed and I might rear her offspring well sheltered from trauma, but now I feel that lemurs, sharing as they do a common ancestor with humans, might require as careful choosing as do human friends.

After Kiko came a Bush Baby, who, apart from the wholly misleading blood-curdling shriek with which he would nightly challenge the sleeping jungle of Chelsea, turned out to be a really crashing bore; his hobbies, moreover, were solitary and embarrassing ....


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