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Pick of the paperbacks; A Bevy of Beasts, by Gerald Durrell. Illustrated by Edward Mortlemans. New York: A Touchstone Book/Simon & Schuster. $4.95.

Gerald Durrell finds animals to be friends, companions, sources of wonder. He sees them as individuals demanding nothing less than man's utmost care and respect -- as fellow sharers of the earth.

This is a delightful reminiscence of his days as a young student keeper at Whipsnade, the London Zoological Society's huge farm estate 30 miles north of London.

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Eventually, Durrell sets up his own zoo, Wildlife Preservation Trust, on the island of Jersey, where animals are not only displayed and cared for in the proper setting, but where rare species are revived. His book, it turns out, is an appeal for cash as well as for understanding. It makes fine reading nonetheless.

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