Cansdale, George Soper

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Cansdale, George Soper

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        George Soper Cansdale was born in Brentwood, Essex and attended Brentwood School before studying for a degree in forestry at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He then joined the Colonial Service, and in 1934 was appointed as Forestry Officer for the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where he started collecting animals for a friend who worked at Paignton Zoo. He used local children to help him collect specimens, and as a result discovered several new species. He began supplying animals for several zoos, including London Zoo.

        In 1947 he was recruited by the Zoological Society of London as their Superintendent, a post which he held until 1953. During that period he began to broadcast for the BBC, on early wildlife programmes such as 'Heads, Tails and Feet', 'Looking at Animals' and 'All About Animals', the latter two of which won the Royal Television Society's silver medal in 1952. He also made regular appearances on Children's Hour on BBC radio. From the 1960s onwards he was a regular guest on Blue Peter.

        In the 1960s Cansdale became Director of Marine Land in Morecambe, Chessington Zoo and Natureland in Skegness. He also developed, with his son, a method of obtaining clean seawater by filtering it through beach sand, and set up a company, SWF Filtration Ltd, which won the international IBM Award for Sustainable Development in 1990.

        His books included 'Animals in West Africa' (1946), 'Animals and Man' (1952), 'George Cansdale's Zoo Book' (1953), 'Belinda and the Bushbaby' (written with his wife, 1953), 'Reptiles of West Africa' (1955), 'The Ladybird Book of British Wild Animals' (1958), 'West African Snakes' (1961), 'Behind the Scenes at a Zoo (1965) and 'Animals of Bible Lands' (1965).


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