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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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The Lure of Long Distances: Teddy’s Evil Adversary

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 6, 2013

In 1913, after a failed bid for a third term as president, Teddy Roosevelt undertook a punishing expedition in Brazil, down the unmapped River of Doubt and on to the Amazon.  Name the “evil” and ferocious adversary he encountered on route:

a. Piranhas capable of stripping a person to the bone.

b. An electric eel, which killed one of his boatmen on a river crossing.

c.  A political consultant sent out to savage his reputation.

d. A 20-foot-long black caiman weighing 3000 pounds.

And the answer is:

(a)  On the second day of his trip, when he had hardly gotten his feet wet, Roosevelt sent a letter to the newspapers back home.  “Piranhas,” he wrote, “are the most ferocious fish in the world…They will snap a finger off a hand incautiously trailed in the water…They will rend and devour any wounded man or beast.” In fact, piranhas generally do not bother people and should have been the least of his worries.  On the expedition, he would encounter dangerous rapids, hostile Indians, and deadly disease—but lived to recount his adventures in Through the Brazilian Wilderness.   The River of Doubt is now called the Rio Roosevelt in his honor.

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