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The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society
by Frans de Waal
Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals—and humans—are “preprogrammed to reach out.” He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another. De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance, and which seems to be evidenced by the recent greed-driven stock market collapse. But he cites the public’s outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective—one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature. Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.
Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo
by Vanessa Woods
In 2005, Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country reeling from a brutal decade-long war that had claimed the lives of millions. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo's capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7 percent of our DNA. She soon discovered that many of the inhabitants of the sanctuary-ape and human alike-are refugees from unspeakable violence, yet bonobos live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake. A fascinating memoir of hope and adventure, Bonobo Handshake traces Vanessa's self-discovery as she finds herself falling deeply in love with her husband, the apes, and her new surroundings while probing life's greatest question: What ultimately makes us human? Courageous and extraordinary, this true story of revelation and transformation in a fragile corner of Africa is about looking past the differences between animals and ourselves, and finding in them the same extraordinary courage and will to survive. For Vanessa, it is about finding her own path as a writer and scientist, falling in love, and finding a home.
Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives
by Thomas French
Welcome to the savage and surprising world of Zoo Story, an unprecedented account of the secret life of a zoo and its inhabitants, both animal and human. Based on six years of research, the book follows a handful of unforgettable characters at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: an alpha chimp with a weakness for blondes, a ferocious tiger who revels in Obsession perfume, and a brilliant but tyrannical CEO known as El Diablo Blanco.
Zoo Story crackles with issues of global urgency: the shadow of extinction, humanity's role in the destruction or survival of other species. More than anything else, though, it's a dramatic and moving true story of seduction and betrayal, exile and loss, and the limits of freedom on an overcrowded planet—all framed inside one zoo reinventing itself for the 21st century.
Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, chronicles the action with vivid power: Wild elephants soaring above the Atlantic on their way to captivity. Predators circling each other in a lethal mating dance. Primates plotting the overthrow of their king. The sweeping narrative takes the reader from the African savannah to the forests of Panama and deep into the inner workings of a place some describe as a sanctuary and others condemn as a prison. All of it comes to life in the book's four-legged characters. Even animal lovers will be startled by the emotional charge of these creatures' histories, which read as though they were co-written by Dickens and Darwin.
Zoo Story shows us how these remarkable individuals live, how some die, and what their experiences reveal about the human desire to both exalt and control nature.
Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets
by Peter Laufer
On the heels of his acclaimed The Dangerous World of Butterflies, investigative journalist Peter Laufer is back to chronicle his worldwide quest to penetrate the underworld of international animal smuggling. In Forbidden Creatures, Laufer exposes the network of hunters, traders, breeders, and customers who constitute this nefarious business—which, estimated at $10 to $20 billion annually, competes with illegal drug and weapons trafficking in the money it earns criminals. Laufer asks: What is being smuggled, from where and why? What is being done to stop the illegal trading and irresponsible breeding? Taking readers to exotic and often lawless locales, Laufer introduces brazen and dangerous traders and wealthy customers whose greed and mindless self-interest perpetuate what is now a crisis of survival for a growing number of wild species. Woven throughout with riveting stories from law enforcement officials and federal prosecutors, Forbidden Creatures is a compelling, first-person narrative written in Laufer’s hallmark conversational, entertaining style.
Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species
by Alan Green
Ever wonder where your neighbor got her pet monkey? Chances are, she bought that monkey from a dealer, who very likely got the parents of that monkey from an AZA-accredited zoo—maybe even the zoo in your town. Animal Underworld takes the closest and hardest look ever at the sleazy world of animals dumped by zoos and research laboratories into the burgeoning exotic- animal market. Green painstakingly documents the movements of hundreds of animals, from zoo exhibit to butcher block, canned hunt, and backyard. If you care about animals, or wonder what you’re supporting when you buy a ticket to the zoo, this book is a must read. -Rachel Weiss
Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals
by Steven M. Wise
Steven Wise, an animal-rights lawyer and Harvard Law School professor, demands legal rights and legal personhood for chimpanzees and bonobos. Wise intends Rattling The Cage to be a guide for judges and lawyers, as well as those personally concerned or merely interested in the issue. He provides 12 chapters of history on the issue of humans, nonhumans, thinghood and the law; insight into the mind of the human as well as the chimp; and discussion about the future of the “legal wall” erected between humans and all other animals. This book is readable and comprehensive. It answers every question you have regarding how and why nonhuman animals should and can become “persons” under American law. Jane Goodall wrote the introduction. It’s dedicated to Jerom Chimpanzee, who died of AIDS in 1996 and with whom I worked during the time of his illness. And it’s an important book—one that will open eyes, plant ideas, and change opinions. -Rachel Weiss
The New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and Family
by Jon Katz
The New Work of Dogs profiles a dozen human-dog relationships in the author’s hometown. Through his encounters with various dog owners, author Jon Katz recognized that many pet dogs are being treated as surrogates for human relationships. He surmised that in our increasingly fragmented society of long commutes, spread-out families, divorce, isolation, and overwork more people are turning to animals for much-needed emotional support. While many of these relationships are healthy and mutually beneficial, Katz noticed that an increasing number are having negative consequences on the dogs, who often become stressed and neurotic when humans’ expectations exceed or contradict their innate abilities.
At the PRC we see identical motives for purchasing primates, and similar negative outcomes for the animals. People mistakenly perceive nonhuman primates as children who will never grow up—a permanent source of unconditional love, one they can control. Such owners feel especially confused and betrayed when the primate inevitably attacks them later on. Unlike dogs, which have been evolving for millennia to be compatible human companions, primates are still wild animals and nearly all attempts to keep them as pets fail. Sadly, we see the results of these failed relationships every day.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in psychology, sociology, or animal welfare. Katz skillfully combines engaging anecdotes with the observations and research of breeders, veterinarians, rescuers, trainers, and psychologists to create a compelling look at our evolving expectations of our pets and the impact this has on their behavior and well-being. By extension, the question as to why humans are increasingly seeking deep emotional support from nonhuman animals points to some of modern society's most disturbing trends—trends that need to be addressed for the sake of human and nonhuman animals alike. -Jen Caravello
Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
by Jane Goodall
As a young woman, Jane Goodall was best known for her groundbreaking fieldwork with the chimpanzees of Gombe, Africa. Goodall’s work has always been controversial, mostly because she broke the mold of research scientist by developing meaningful relationships with her “specimens” and honoring their lives as she would other humans.
And Goodall continues to break the mold of scientist by revealing how her research and worldwide conservation institutes spring from her childhood callings and adult spiritual convictions. Reason for Hope is a smoothly written memoir that does not shy away from facing the realities of environmental destruction, animal abuse, and genocide. But Goodall shares her antidote to the poison of despair with specific examples of why she has not lost faith. For instance, she shares her spiritual epiphany during a visit to Auschwitz; her bravery in the face of chimpanzee imprisonment in medical laboratories; and devotes a whole chapter to individuals, corporations, and countries that are doing the right thing. But most of all Goodall provides a beautifully written plea for why everyone can and must find a reason for hope. -Gail Hudson
Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life Through Earth- and Animal-Friendly Living
by Ingrid Newkirk
Karen Armstrong, major scholar of religions, recently commented that the one factor uniting all traditional religions is compassion. From this perspective, Ingrid Newkirk, president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has written a religious book, one that extends compassion, quite naturally, to nonhuman animals.
This book, however, is not a theoretical treatment about why we should treat animals compassionately. Rather, it is a how-to book of impressive dimensions and almost disconcerting concreteness and variety. In brief, readable chapters she scouts an immense amount of territory. Is your interest tweaked by elephants or whales? Read about the elephant Jenny’s journey from her Sumatra home, through the tortures of circus life, to her current happy existence at the Elephant Sanctuary. Other chapters cover making a will, dealing with breast cancer, and cooking for Passover or Thanksgiving.
Quite helpful chapters treat creating animal-compassionate spaces, choosing cosmetics, clothing, shoes, coffee. Interested in vegetarian recipes? Got ’em. Seeking an animal-compassionate getaway? This is your book. Want to start a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? Go no further. Not only does each chapter outline clearly what to do, whom to contact, or what the issues are, but the ensuing Resources section points you to a wealth of other books, websites, and videos to appreciate.
The general consumer who might not normally be found scanning a PETA website but who understands compassion will want this volume. Few will read it starting from one chapter and moving serially through to the end, but most will be drawn to read on beyond their interests, ﬁnding something fresh and stirring in every section. -Dr. Jack Furlong
Primates in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book
by Robert W. Shumaker & Benjamin Beck, Photos by Gerry Ellis
Primates in Question was developed in response to the thousands of calls and letters the Smithsonian Institution receives regarding the group of animals comprised of humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians. Written by two leading primate experts from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the book answers nearly 100 questions ranging from the broadest and simplest: “What are primates?” to more complex inquiries that ferret out the differences and similarities of the 200-plus species that make up this fascinating group of animals. Some of the most fascinating sections emerge from questions regarding social behavior and intelligence. Primates’ complex thinking and socializing abilities have been the subject of both rigorous scientific study and pop-culture mythology. The authors do an excellent job of dispelling some common myths surrounding grooming, pet ownership, language abilities, and emotions, to name but a few topics. Additionally, the authors have included an extensive discussion about primate conservation and resources for individual involvement.
Primates In Question is a must for anyone with an interest in primates. Whether you have a casual curiosity or a professional need for such information, this book answers the most commonly asked primate-related questions clearly and concisely—and is accompanied by fantastic pictures and a comprehensive reference list. I can say with certainty that our organization will be regularly referencing Primates In Question, both to refresh our own knowledge and to better share our love of primates with others. -Jen Caravello
What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy
by Larry Carbone
Consider animal experimentation from the point of view of veterinarians, dedicated to the health and welfare of nonhuman animals every bit as much as physicians are to human health and welfare. A veterinarian with animal-protectionist tendencies working in a research laboratory in which animals live for the sake of being experimented upon and perhaps are ultimately “sacrificed”—isn’t this situation at least intolerable and at worst desperate? What happens to veterinarians when their professional commitment to animal care runs headlong into their fellow biomedical researchers professional commitment to animal use?
Carbone, a laboratory animal veterinarian for two decades, asks a fresh and crucial question about that professional train wreck: who knows best about what animals think and feel? He addresses this question in all of its complexity, involving the tangled history of policy development attempting to protect animals, research in animal cognition and emotions, styles of political advocacy, and defense on both sides of animal rights controversies. “…though most of the scientists I know are decent, bright, caring people,” Carbone states early on, “they can lose their focus on animal welfare as they perform their experiments, or sometimes just don’t know enough about animals to assure their welfare.” Though he states that he cannot call for an abolition to animal research, he also asserts at the end of his study that “Someday, animal experimentation will come to an end. I would like to live to see that day.”
If you have ever wanted to acquire a well-informed and responsible position on animal experimentation, I can think of no better book to crack than Carbone’s balanced, passionate, and well-reasoned What Animals Want. Just don’t expect easy answers. -Dr. Jack Furlong
The Monkey Wars
by Deborah Blum
Scientists who use monkeys and other animals in biomedical research face mounting opposition from animal-rights advocates. Basing this detailed report largely on interviews, Blum, a former science reporter at the Sacramento Bee in California who won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles that inspired this middle-of-the-road book, accuses both sides of caricaturing their opponents as fanatics. Striving for evenhandedness, she seeks compromise and negotiation, perhaps best exemplified by Jan Moor-Jankowski. Director of the now-defunct Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery, in Sterling Forest, N.Y., Moor-Jankowski listens to animal-rights activists and incorporates some of their criticisms into his methodology. We also meet Christine Stevens of the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute; outspoken Alex Pacheco of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; and Peter Gerone, crusader for animal research and director of Tulane University's Primate Research Center. Blum credits the animal-rights movement with holding researchers to a standard of compassion and changing the way scientists think about the use of animals. -Publisher’s Weekley