Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Animal Wise by Virginia Morell

We humans believe we are vastly superior to animals, while in fact there is only a 1% DNA difference between us and chimps. Considering how violent and competitive we are, prone to congregate into groups that fight each other over even smaller differences, can we really use the word "vast" anymore? In her book ANIMAL WISE author Virginia Morell reveals the intelligence of animals we eat for food, just as they eat other animals for food. At the top of the food chain, we human animals need to consider the implications and responsibility we have in the treatment of other species, and what our excesses bode for our own survival. Morell is nature writer, and also author of "Wildlife Wars" and "Ancestral Passions." Here she reveals the results of cognitive studies done around the world in mapping animal intelligence. The surprising conclusions are that animals can feel emotions, and they remember. Chimps actually grieve over loss. Birds practice songs in their sleep. Crows improvise tools. Dogs have vocabularies. Yet to produce cheap meat, we herd cows and chickens into pens where they can barely move, and feed them grains they weren't meant to eat until they get sick, then we slaughter them. Kinda like Nazi concentration camps. This book doesn't say this, and is not primarily about ethics. Still, it is a reflection that's hard to avoid in the listening. Who's the animals? We all are. Time for us to evolve and progress past our limited understanding of our natural world, and the impact we have on it. Narrated by Kirsten Potter, this audiobook provides an intimate look at various animals, each chapter covering a different species. It's a complex subject, and scientists don't have all the answers. But we have learned much, and there is much here that many would be surprised to learn.

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