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The Emotional Lives of Animals
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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

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.

Customer Reviews:

  • The Emotional Lives of Animals? Marc Bekoff Makes A Valuable Contribution!
    Having just completed writing the wonderful story of my Regal cat which led me to an acute awareness of her array of feelings, choices, and intelligence, it was wonderful to discover Marc Bekoff's work. His book not only supports my deepened awareness about animal feelings but also took me an increased understanding of all animal emotions. His insight into animal's wide variety of feelings and behavior touched my soul. Through many observational stories by those who work with animals and through scientific study, Marc Bekoff illumines the field of animal intelligence and feeling! He also justifiably raises the issue of our ethical responsibility in caring for all animals whether they be our domestic friends, our zoo inmates, those who sadly serve in the research arena, or those who are farmed for food. They all deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, care, and regard. Truly, we can do better! With gratitude, thank you Mark Bekoff! ...more info
  • Insightful!
    Marc Bekoff gives us a scientific view of the novel science of animal's emotions. People who know animals see feelings and it is not just through anthropomorphic thought, but facts on how animals react. This book shows through science we have similar neural systems. Darwin is quoted " that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties. We all evolved from similar animals" - who express human characteristics such as jealousy, hatred, or love. ... Current cutting edge research agrees with Darwin's observations and ideas. Dogs and other animals share with humans some of the same brain structures and some of the same neurochemicals that form the basis for such emotions as joy.

    Anyone who works closely with animals or has pets know they show pleasure, pain, joy, play, sulk and other emotions. That is how we bond together and they recognize our feelings as well. They are not automatons with robotic reactions, animals have personality and surprise us in many ways. Stories within the book show how animals care about humans as well as each other without anyone training or coaxing.

    Mark Bekoff notes this is a gift we should treasure. There is a wonderful forward by Jane Goodall noting the book shows careful scientific methodology with intuition and common sense.

    The book shows why animal emotions matter, how they are studied, what animals feel, including animal justice, morals, fair play and other interesting behavior. There is always uncertainty in science, however, many scientists have been hesitant to speak out about animal emotions. They no longer talk "as if" they have feelings, they acknowledge animals have them.

    The point of the book is to be kind to animals and how personal choices affect them. The author asks us to treat animals with compassion and ask if you would do this (cruel behavior) to your dog or cat? He asks that scientists come "out of the closet" and with courage acknowledge what they know about animals....more info
  • Marvelous entry into the minds of animals
    This book is extraordinary in that it allows us to see the world from an entirely new and equally valid place: the mind and emotions of our fellow animals. Dr. Bekoff is unusual in his ability to convey complex information simply, and to allow us to understand the years of research behind this book. If you care at all about animals, or even are remotely curious about their lives, this book can give you a new and profound understanding of the lives going on all around us. This is a 10 if ever there was one.
    ...more info
  • Of Course Animals Feel Things
    I love the studies that try to make chimps 'speak' our language. How egocentric of us: how about scientists trying to speak their language and being tested on that? Just because we wear clothes doesn't make us the only feeling creatures God made. Ever see an animal run from headlights? Your pet in a bad mood? Puppies cuddle? Why is this even an issue? Because traditionally, feelings belonged to women and everyone knows women, children and the elderly don't rate worth a hoot so why should feelings in animals rate? With more men like this author, all that is changing. But until 'men' in science realize analysis is only so good and that feelings coupled with intelligence and intuition is what makes the world go round, we will continue to have this ridiculous debate. Let's face it. We just recently decided babies feel pain. Why? Because anything that can't talk is considered 'below' men and non-entities. Until the silent, pawed and everything that doesn't go to Harvard is afforded respect, we will join with this author in his quest to prove animals have feelings. So many of us have known this all along -
    the same people who know that children feel and remember....more info
  • Confirms What We Already Knew
    For animal lovers, this book preaches to the choir. But Marc Bekoff says it with such eloquence. He supports his treatise on animal emotions with current brain and genetic research, and makes the science accessible and understandable to all two-legged animals who share their lives with the four-legged variety.

    His description of animal research in laboratories can be a bit graphic but illustrates with compassion the urgent need to address the way we think about animals, and our obligation to foster humane treatment and loving care. This is truly an enjoyable and informative read....more info
  • Worth the struggle
    The authors of this book are far from talented writers, but I must admit that the things I read in this book have really stuck with me. The content is very powerful (and important scientifically). I laughed, I cried, ect. What bothered me the most was it seemed to be written to readers who doubt the complexity of the animal mind, but that's obviously not going to be the audience. They spend a lot of time passionately arguing their point of view to readers who are likely already animal lovers interested in their psychology. It would have been a VERY important book had it been written a few decades earlier, but the scientific and cultural shifts towards compassion and empathy (as well as animal rights) have been gaining acceptance for quite a while already. It's still important, and in my opinion, a welcome addition to the fight for better animal rights in science and laws. Very interesting and emotional....more info
  • Very Good
    Some have complained that Bekoff does not rely on science, and that this book is just a bunch of anecdotes. I want potential readers to know this is not exactly the case. The author does include scientific data to support his case. However, contemporary philosophy maintains that there are other ways of knowing other than the scientific method. This is the epistemology that Bekoff subscribes to, and it makes sense. What about what dog owners and animal trainers have seen over the years? Moreover, most scientists today are closer to Bekoff on this issue than they were years ago. Back in the 1960's scientists said things like "When the dog wags its tail it only appears to be happy." How stupid is that?

    I think there is quite a lot of evidence that animals are intelligent, emotional and self-reflecting. Consider the famous dolphin experiment at Sea World. Spots were placed on the dolphins' bodies. They swam down to the bottom of the tank to locate their spots in a mirror. There is a famous bird show here in Sarasota where the birds have been taught arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)and how to solve for variables. That's right - algebra. Anyone in the audience can give a problem to the birds, and the birds solve them with blocks and beads. I have a Shihpoo (a Shih Tzu-Poodle mix) that learns new tricks in just a few seconds. So anecdotes are irrelevant to this discussion? Here's another one about my very own Shihpoo.

    "Sorry "J" we can't go for a walk right now, Daddy has to take a shower and get ready to leave." At that very moment "J" ran from the family room through the dining room, through the living room, down the hall - and sat by the bathroom door." True story. ...more info