A passion for wildlife and conservation led John Knowles OBE to found his own latter-day Ark - the Marwell Zoological Park. His autobiography tells the fascinating story of how a childhood collector of stick insects became a successful farmer and poultry breeder, and went on to achieve his ambition to own a zoo.
John's story unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly changing post-war world where rising populations and increasing demands on natural resources place huge pressure on wildlife. Recognising that captive breeding populations may be the only way to save many species, he established several successful herds at Marwell. The roan antelope, reintroduced to Swaziland, Scimitar horned oryx and the famous Przewalski's wild horse, are among the animals that have benefited from John's efforts.
His account describes how Marwell developed from small beginnings, with all the planning, financial and operational headaches that entailed. He tells of the necessary balancing act between conservation of the animals and the historic Marwell Hall; the need to make the enterprise pay; and how, because of his determination that Marwell should itself be safe, he formed a charitable Trust to which he gave the entire zoo.
Throughout this book, John's 'can-do' attitude to tackling one of Planet Earth's greatest challenges shines through and, as he now enjoys a well-earned retirement, John Knowles can be justly proud of what Marwell has achieved.