The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter

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9781577315025: The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter

Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years studying social communication in a wide range of species, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives. Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience have long implied. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.

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Review:

If the onus on Emotional Lives of Animals author Marc Bekoff was simply to prove that nonhuman creatures exhibit Charles Darwin's six universal emotions (anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, and surprise), then his book would be very brief. As anyone who has ever had a pet dog, cat, rabbit, or even bird can attest, animals not only possess such emotions but broadcast them clearly and often. Bekoff's goal, however, is much grander: To show that wild and domestic species have a kaleidoscopic range of feelings, from embarrassment to awe, and that we dismiss them not only at their peril but our own. And if an endorsement squib by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and Foreword by renowned animal scientist Jane Goodall doesn't give it away, then readers quickly learn that Bekoff also has an agenda: showing that using animals for scientific experiments, amusement, food, and the like is reprehensible and unconscionable.

Not that The Emotional Lives of Animals is a polemic. By turns funny, anecdotal, and deeply researched, the book is all the more persuasive because it's so compelling. As Bekoff (professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado) points out, "It's bad biology to argue against the existence of animal emotions. Scientific research in evolutionary biology, cognitive ethology, and social neuroscience supports the view that numerous and diverse animals have rich and deep emotional lives. Emotions have evolved as adaptations in numerous species, and they serve as a social glue to bond animals with one another." And with us, as Bekoff argues in this absorbing and important book. -- Kim Hughes

From the Back Cover:

"As a boy studying Buddhism in Tibet, I was taught the importance of a caring attitude toward others. Such a practice of nonviolence applies to all sentient beings -- any living thing that has a mind. Where there is a mind, there are feelings such as pain, pleasure, and joy. No sentient beings want pain; instead all want happiness. Since we all share these feelings at some basic level, as rational human beings we have an obligation to contribute in whatever way we can to the happiness of other species and try our best to relieve their fears and sufferings. I firmly believe that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes, therefore I welcome Marc Bekoff's book The Emotional Lives of Animals."
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Move over Darwin. And prepare to be moved. In The Emotional Lives of Animals, world-class scientist Marc Bekoff argues forcefully that our emotions are the gifts of our animal ancestors. Bekoff's new book itself is a gift that invites us to explore and appreciate the passionate lives of animals. Weaving in the latest scientific data about empathic mice and elephants suffering from PTSD with wonderful stories about laughing dogs and pissy baboons, Bekoff's forward-looking book offers both an explanation and an ethical compass that opens the door for hope in the ways in which we interact with other animals."
-- Dr. Marty Becker, resident veterinarian on Good Morning America and author of The Healing Power of Pets

"Marc Bekoff is one of those rare scientists who can talk real sense about animals because he is aware of being an animal himself. Read this wonderful book."
-- Mary Midgley, author of Animals and Why They Matter and The Ethical Primate

"An extraordinary, intelligent, and valuable book about a subject one might be forgiven for thinking taboo since it is so absent from discussion: an exploration of the other animals' feelings, the emotional makeup we share with them yet often do not know exists, forget entirely, deliberately ignore or casually disregard. Here we see animals, whole and complete, thinking their not-so-private thoughts, grieving, loving, jumping for joy, and fleeing that which is painful or upsetting and it makes us think about who they are and what our impact is and can be on their lives. Marc Bekoff captures not only poignant incidents of the animals' emotions as evidenced by observations and pure commonsense, but brings to each discovery his own vital repertoire of human emotion and expression. A glorious, moving, important book to enjoy and share."
-- Ingrid Newkirk, cofounder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

"A thought-provoking, compassionate, and scholarly work from one of the world's most eminent behavioral scientists."
-- Dr. Ian Dunbar, founder of The Association of Pet Dog Trainers and author of Before & After Getting Your Puppy

"In clear and convincing language, Mark Bekoff provides rational defense for what many of us already sense -- that animals can feel sorrow, joy, anger, and pleasure much as we humans do. Bekoff proves that this idea is not only compatible with the fact of evolution, but it is required by it. Once it considers the argument of this finely argued book, science will never be the same."
-- Dr David Rothenberg, professor of philosophy, New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of Why Birds Sing and Sudden Music

"In The Emotional Lives of Animals, Marc Bekoff has pulled together the growing body of scientific evidence that supports the existence of a variety of emotions in other animals, richly illustrated by his own careful observations. He suggests that it is a waste of time even to ask if chimpanzees, elephants, dogs, and so on experience happiness, sadness, despair, and anger - that this is self-evident to anyone who has spent time or shared his or her life in a meaningful way with animals. Combining careful scientific methodology with intuition and common sense, this book will be a great tool for those who are struggling to improve the lives of animals in environments where, so often, there is an almost total lack of understanding. I only hope it will persuade many people to reconsider the way they treat animals in the future."
-- Jane Goodall

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