Man, 30, finishes animal encyclopaedia he began aged nine

Man, 30, finishes animal encyclopaedia he began aged nine thumbnail


man who began drawing his own book of animals when he was nine years old has completed it more than 20 years later, saying: “I feel the same way as I did when I was nine about these things.”

Josh Gabbatiss, 30, a climate journalist from south London, began drawing and writing ‘Josh’es (sic) Book of Animals’ in 2001, and completed it towards the end of January this year.

The animal enthusiast has shared his finished creation on Twitter, writing he was “proud” to do so.

He told the PA news agency: “I think it just shows that those childhood passions can be really important and shouldn’t be seen lightly.

“For me it feels really special because I know that in many ways, I feel the same way as I did when I was nine about these things.

“I feel just as excited about this stuff.”

The book is comprised of 118 pages divided into six sections, including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals – it includes descriptions and terminology, as well as an index at the end of each section.

Mr Gabbatiss said: “My two passions really have always been animals and art, so obviously it was a great opportunity to combine those two things.

“It was very satisfying to finish it.

“There’s kind of a sense of almost anti-climax, because you do this last drawing, and it’s like, right, well, that’s done now I guess.

“As a child I committed to doing these indexes. I was just trying to copy all my favourite animal books that I owned. So I finished this last drawing and I was like, ‘Well, I guess I have to do an index’, just for consistency.”

He lived in Wootton, a village in West Oxfordshire, as a child.

His early memories of working on the book include “scribbling away” with Coronation Street on in the background, as well as adding to his project at friends’ houses at night with a torch.

Having started when he was nine, he continued to work on the book “consistently” into his teens, before life got in the way.

“There was a period towards the end of my teens as I got distracted maybe by other things during my teenage years, when it was a bit more sporadic,” he said.

“Those are the periods where you can see some quite big improvements in the quality maybe of the drawings.

“I pushed it to the side when I went to university (and) it had about three pages left to do for several years – I just knew I wanted to finish it one day, and just never quite got around to doing it.”

Mr Gabbatiss said he is “actually quite proud” of some of the later drawings, and added he may give the book to his parents who he thinks “will maybe appreciate it most”.

However, having shared it with the world on Twitter, it has been viewed by thousands of people in less than a week.

“I had really never shown it to anyone apart from my parents, who saw me drawing it growing up as a child,” he said.

“And then partners, and ex-partners have seen it over the years, but I’ve never really showed it to any friends or anything. It’s always been a very personal thing.

“I think it’s really touched people, because I think a lot of people are remembering their obsessions from when they were children – projects they were working on and maybe never finished.

“Or they’re talking about the stuff that their children are obsessed with now, which I think is really cute, how their child is really into dinosaurs or something like that.”