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George Cansdale 

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A popular presenter of 1950s animal shows, George Soper Cansdale was the superintendent of the London Zoological Society from 1948-1953. Born in 1909, George spent much of his early adulthood abroad, serving 14 years in the Colonial Forest Service of the Gold Coast (now Ghana).

Returning to London in 1948, George began his duties at London Zoo and proceeded to publish numerous zoological books and articles. Rapidly becoming a respected academic, his first television appearance came the same year, introducing a squirrel on the weekly magazine programme, Picture Page.

This was followed by further radio and television appearances. As television programmes featuring animals in studios and zoos proliferated, George began to present the popular series, Looking at Animals (1951) and All About Animals (1955). Despite the huge public success of these and other series of the same genre, zoos became wary of showing animals in an entertaining light, trying to redefine the industry as more educational. This new approach allegedly led to George's dismissal from London Zoo in 1953, his playing and cuddling with animals not proving popular with his fellow academics.

George however continued to appear on our screens as well as pursue his academic interests. After many appearances on the children's magazine show Blue Peter, viewers chose to name the new tortoise in his honour.

Over his long career George published a wealth of material, writing numerous books and articles. His huge body of work includes Animals and Man (1951), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (1970) and even the Ladybird Book of British Wild Animals (1958).

George died on the 24th August 1993.

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