Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Animal Wise by Virginia Morell

Title: Animal Wise
Author: Virginia Morell
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publish Date: March 25, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a fish? Or a parrot, dolphin, or an elephant?  Do they experience thoughts that are similar to ours, or have feelings of grief and love? These are tough questions, but scientists are answering them. They know that ants teach and rats love to be tickled. They’ve discovered that dogs have thousand-word vocabularies and that birds practice their songs in their sleep. But how do scientists know these things?

   Animal Wise takes us on a dazzling odyssey into the inner world of animals and among the pioneering researchers who are leading the way into once-forbidden territory: the animal mind. Morell uses her formidable gifts as a storyteller to transport us to field sites and laboratories around the world, introducing us to animal-cognition scientists and their surprisingly intelligent and sensitive subjects. She explores how this rapidly evolving, controversial field has only recently overturned old notions about why animals behave as they do. In this surprising and moving book, Morell brings the world of nature brilliantly alive in a nuanced, deeply felt appreciation of the human-animal bond."

My Two Cents:

I am unequivocally an animal person. If it's fluffy, I've probably thought of what it would be like to have as a pet. If it's feathery, I've probably also wondered what it would be like to have as a pet. Even if I am scared of it (see spiders, poisonous snakes, etc.), I am probably still cautiously interested in it. I gobble books about animals so quickly and this book definitely fell into that category for me. In this book, the author explores the minds of many different kinds of animals from those that we as humans already recognize as being intelligent to those that we take for granted (birds, fish, etc.).

Morell explores the animal kingdom in this book mostly through visiting people whose life's work has something to do with animals. These people explore animal behavior in labs and it was incredibly intriguing to see what kind of research they are doing and all of the truly amazing things that they are learning from living creatures. Morell explores both those creatures that we already know to be quite intelligent, such as chimps and dogs. She also looks at fish and birds, which are creatures that have often been passed over as not being intelligent. Morell also looks at what it means to have intelligence. The definition is not always as clear cut as it seems.

This book definitely made me think. I know that I will be thinking about this book long after I finished reading it. Morell does a really good job of making the science behind this book accessible to a wide variety of readers. I loved this book and know that it is one that I am going to be recommending to a lot of my fellow animal lovers!



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