A new book (release date: Feb.26, 2013), Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures by science writer Virginia Morrel is an awe-inspiring journey towards a deeper understanding of animals. Each chapter shines new light on different animals from ants to rats, elephants to dolphins with insightful exchanges and observations from the author and animal behavior scientists she visits all over the world. In a delicious irony, the only mention of cats is in reference to a renowned research scientist on dogs, who has never owned a dog and prefers cats as pets.
Some of the discoveries that most intrigued me: rats laugh while play wrestling, crows create and shape tools by design, dolphins are pan-sexual, parrots in the wild only mimic other parrots and fish do feel pain. I’m not about to go vegan but I will think twice about what I eat after reading this well researched and engaging book. Animal lovers will be amused, saddened and hopefully gain more respect for creatures who not so long ago were thought of as automatons without thoughts or feelings.
We have a long way to go towards living in harmony with animals on this planet–both wild and domestic but this book opens the door to new conversations. With new awareness deeper changes can take root. I know, the next time I see a crow or blue jay in my garden or a rat scurrying on the subway tracks in Manhattan, I’ll feel more compassionate.
The author wisely posits no solutions and the scientists to be taken seriously must have proof. They can’t veer towards anthropomorphism and yet time and time again examples are shown how animals are more like us than we dare think.
I am grateful Morell mentions a riveting blog Extinction Countdown in Scientific American about endangered species around the world.
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Want Animal Wise right now?I received a review copy which in no way influenced this review.