As the author of more than 200 articles about animals for publications such as Woman's Day
, and the Los Angeles Times
, Kristin von Kreisler has become a well-known advocate for animals in the United States. In Beauty in the Beasts
, she presents her belief that animals are capable of virtuousness. To prove her point, von Kreisler supplies hundreds of true stories of animals' doing good, each divided according to the virtue demonstrated: compassion, loyalty, courage, fortitude, resourcefulness, cooperation, generosity, sensitivity.
Anyone who has ever shared space with a dog or cat will be familiar with the story of the dog who licks away his owner's tears and provides comfort. But what about the story of Vintage, the feral cat who'd bonded with a dog to such a degree that she provided milk for puppies when her own kittens had not survived birth? Dog lovers may get teary when reading of Maui, the Newfoundland who rescued two surfers in Corsica before drowning while trying to reach a third. Less common and less domesticated animals are no less noble. There is "a sensitive chicken named Sonya" who clucked and whirred while nuzzling a sad human friend, and Petunia, a pampered 400-pound pig who bravely chased an intruder away from her back door. While science may scoff at von Kreisler's insistence on the reality of emotions in these animals, most readers will simply giggle, cry, and ultimately come away with a deeper appreciation for animals of all sorts. --Jill Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support her claim, Von Kreisler (The Compassion of Animals), whom Masson (When Elephants Weep) describes as "among the leaders in a growing field of scholarship," argues that animals do not only act instinctively, they are also capable of making conscious even moral choices. To prove her point, she offers scores of extraordinary anecdotes in which animals from dogs to elephants to chimpanzees to fish demonstrate eight clearly identifiable virtues that are usually only ascribed to humans, arguing that these traits sensitivity, compassion, courage, loyalty, fortitude, cooperation, resourcefulness and generosity are actually "extensions of the same life force" that extends throughout the animal kingdom. One of the most touching tales is about a pair of Canadian geese crossing a busy highway. The female had been hit by a car, and the male "spread his wings around her so protectively that Frisch [the national coordinator for the Coalition to Protect Canadian Geese who came upon them] could scarcely see her." As cars continued to speed past, the gander risked his life by choosing to stay with his companion. According to Frisch, he was absolutely unyielding. Although some readers might wish for fewer and more in-depth stories (we never learn, for example, if the geese survive), this is a feel-good overview of animals' heroic deeds. Animal lovers of all ages, particularly those who have not read other books of this sort, will eagerly welcome this charming study. Photos. Agent, Sally Wofford-Girand.
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