With his elegant anecdote “A Gorilla in the Guest Room”, Gerald Durrell has shared us his moments with a gorilla and how he experienced through a roller-coaster of feelings with N’Pongo.
When Gerald Durrell was offered a baby Gorilla, He couldn’t reject it acknowledging the fact that it is one of the rare and threatened species, and that they should be kept in captivity sooner or later. So, Gerald crowd-funded for the Gorilla with the help of the affluent inhabitants of the island.
As N’Pongo was accommodated at Gerald’s guest room for few days, he learnt how civilised Gorillas could be. N’Pongo’s appearance and behaviour has enraptured Gerald’s mother as well as his wife, within a short time. Watching over N’Pongo was amusing. The women fawned over him and “plied him with delicacies”. Leaving him at the zoo was a hard move for Gerald’s family.
N’Pongo, with his excellent humour and behaviour, captivated all the visitors and soon became the gem of the zoo. As Nandy entered, their couple was much more adorable. The visitors and the staff fancied the way N’Pongo would tease his wife and the way she reacted to it.
But as days passed, Gerald realised that it is anxious to take care of their health. The problem gets aggravated as they are dumb creatures. Though N’Pongo and Nandy are immune and recover soon, Gerald traumatises to see them in such a state.
As Gerald arranged his trip to Camargue with a BBC agent, N’Pongo falls sick putting Gerald in a dilemma. N’Pongo started losing weight. It stopped eating and, as a result, they couldn’t medicate him. Gerald and his wife tried luring him with watermelon to improve his appetite. Successfully, N’Pongo started eating and got medicated. Travelling to Camargue was Gerald’s hardest decision. He was worried and called for updates all through his trip. Fortunately, N’Pongo got better and turned to his usual humour self by the time Gerald returned.
Gerald was quite happy to see his N’Pongo but discerned the reality that preserving such animals was a “double-sided sword”. As Durrell aptly states, however lovable and beguiling they are, the apprehension and trauma they bring when they are sick would make us wonder why we brought them in the first place.