9.12.04

Frank Buck "Bring 'em Back Alive"



Growing up as a little girl in Johannesburg S. Africa, January Freelander spent many hours with her family camping and hiking through the back country. Her father was a game warden for the Provincial Government and her mother taught school so the family had many long summer vacations together exploring the wild and beautiful bush country of Africa.

January, or Jan as she preferred to be called, quickly formed a fascination for the many animals that her family encountered on these trips. There were huge herds of antelope, bush deer, giraffes with their amazing long neck and colorful coats. She loved watching the giraffes run, faster than a horse at full gallop on tall spindly legs, In fact, she decided, they were the most graceful animal on the veldt.

But of all the creatures Jan saw and heard on the savanna, that great, regal yet gentle giant the elephant was her favorite. Elephants could make the ground shake when they moved and the trees bend like grass; they were fast, ferocious and if they needed to be, dangerous - although usually they moved slowly with stately grace, their huge ears and massive heads swaying as if listening to music as they walked across the vast African grass lands. Jan liked to watch them and pretend she could hear the music too, the music of freedom, the freedom only wild animals can truly know.

Once when Jan's father had to go to Cape Town for a meeting at Government House he took his daughter with him. She wanted to visit the City Library and take some books home over vacation, books about wild Africa and its animals. Among those Jan selected was a book by the American adventurer Frank Buck who in the 1930s had been a famous radio personality, writer and explorer who hunted big game animals all over the world, but he didn't hunt and trap the animals to harm them, Frank Buck was sure to Bring 'Em Back alive.



Frank Buck spent his life capturing animals alive and supplying them to zoos - every kind of animal, from birds to snakes to elephants and big cats. There were no tranquilizer darts in those days, so Buck learned to build traps and snares in ways that prevented injury to the animals he caught. He was famous for personally bringing the animals to America by ship - traveling with them to ensure they were well cared for and arrived safely.
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