The Largest Wildlife in History

Joyce Keller Walsh

Joyce Keller Walsh from Lakeville, Massachusetts had an interview on Books of the World down Dennis, located at Cape Cod, MA. Joyce is one of our co-founders to Authors Without Borders ( has a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University (in English) and a Master’s Degree from Harvard University (in Psychology). She had also had the position, for eight years before retirement, was the Managing Editor of an International Journal of Cancer Epidemiology (“Cancer Causes and Control”) at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she worked in several-research and managerial positions.

In addition to published books, she has produced plays and edit variety of nonfiction, healthy -related works, including the book, Morbidity and Mortality in the United States, published by the American Public Health Association.

Joyce Keller Walsh is a co-founder to Authors Without Borders at

Ms. Walsh talks with the host from Books of the World about her husband, John, who in 1964, was part of the largest animal rescue in history.

Time is Short and the Water Rises
by John Walsh (with Robert Gannon)

John Walsh

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In 1962, Alcoa manufactures the first pull-tab aluminum can— it’s a transformative new industry but the process demands intensive mining and massive electricity for smelting the ore. For that purpose, Suralco (Alcon’s subsidiary in Suriname, South America) builds a hydro-electric dam across the Suriname River flooding 900 square-miles of the jungle.

Behind the Afobaka Dam, the river waters form a vast spreading lake. Many native villages are submerging thousands of people and animals are in peril. Although the government oversees the woeful relocation of 6,000 Saramaccas (descendants of African slaves) out of their homes in the now-flooded area, there is no consideration for the trapped animals that will surely die. But one man, Commissioner Jan Michels, writes to the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA) in Boston, Massachusetts for help. “Time is short,: he pleas, “and the water rises.”

In 1964, 24-year-old MPCA agent John Walsh is loaned to ISPA to rescue the animals. He has never managed such a rescue project. He has never been out of New England. He has never caught jungle animals and never managed such a rescue project. But then, neither has anyone else.

Over the next year-and-a-half, as he works with his team of 40 Saramaccas in what comes to be called Operation Gwamba (“gwamba” means “animal” in Saramaccan), the water rises faster and faster. It is a race against time with rusting equipment, disease, and lack of funds. Against all odds, Walsh and his men to on to rescue and relocate nearly 10,000 animals.

Operation Gwamba remains, to date, the largest, rescue of wildlife in history.
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