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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Do we just imagine that animals have feelings like our own, that their loyalty springs from something other than the need to be fed? Anthropologist King investigates research and scores of stories of animals grieving the loss of animal companions, speculating that where there is grief, there must be love. She explores a variety of settings, from farms to homes to fields, to detail how creatures as diverse as ants and elephants mourn their dead. Cautious of the human tendency to interpret animal behavior from the human perspective, King offers strong evidence of attachment that leads to grief when a companion dies. Among her stories: a house cat loses her sister and lifelong companion and wails inconsolably; horses gather in a circle to mourn at the burial site of a recently deceased companion; elephants surround their matriarch, keeping vigil as she dies. King recounts stories of cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, and other animals grieving to the point of depression and weight loss. She also points to additional resources, including video clips of animal behavior, in a beautifully written book that will appeal to animal lovers. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"A beautifully written book that will appeal to animal lovers."
(Booklist)

“Barbara J. King has pulled together anecdotal and scientific data on grief and love in animals in her excellent book How Animals Grieve. With her engaging story telling she opens up our eyes to the possible inner lives of some surprising species. We expect big-brained chimpanzees and elephants to express their feelings, but her tales of rabbits, goats, birds, turtles and others force us to look again at the emotional content of animal lives.”
(Cynthia Moss, author of Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Ele)

“Poignant, thoughtful, and sometimes heartbreaking. King once again elevates the discussion of animal emotion. She tackles a tricky subject with a scientist's care and an animal lover's grace.”
(Jennifer Holland, author of Unlikely Friendships)

"I must admit that I was skeptical that an entire book could be written on the subject of animal grief, because the scientific literature in this area is so painfully thin. But Barbara King has succeeded beautifully. She has collected an incredible database of stories about various kinds of animals, and taken together they offer more than enough substance to sustain this book. It is as if she has created a mosaic for her reader. She has collected bits and pieces--individual stories about one animal or another--which by themselves might be little but trifles. But King pastes them together with masterful skill, and the result is a compelling picture of animal grief. We get the feeling that there are still a lot of blank spaces on the canvas, as our scientific understanding is far from complete, but it is only a matter of time before these spaces will begin to fill in. How Animals Grieve is a fascinating book which will interest and inform animal lovers and scientists alike."
(Jessica Pierce, author of The Last Walk)

"In this deeply moving and beautifully composed treatise that is sure to anger some, but inspire many, Barbara King methodically presents her powerful evidence that many animals possess thoughts, feelings and emotions, including the profound sense of loss following the death of a family member or close companion. Consider, for example, the female dolphin who carries her dead calf for several days, loath to part with her beloved child. What else is she doing but grieving? It might be a controversial, minority viewpoint that some animals mourn the death of others, but King's profound and well-documented work has left me firmly in her camp."


(David Kirby, author of Death at Sea World)

"Humans and other animals experience love and fear, and form deep emotional bonds with cherished companions. We mourn when a close friend dies, and so do other animals, as Barbara King's poignant book illustrates in compelling detail. How Animals Grieve helps us to connect and to better understand the complex social lives of other animals and of ourselves."

(Gene Baur, president and cofounder of Farm Sanctuary)

"Let me begin by saying I recommend this book to anyone who doubts that animals grieve. The evidence presented is overwhelming."
(EcoLit)

"How Animals Grieve is not the definitive work on animal grief, but rather a stepping-stone to further investigation, observation and understanding. King hopes others will continue to look with fresh eyes, expand our knowledge and better understand all animals."
(Shelf Awareness)

"Admirably, carefully, and cautiously reviews and synthesizes a topic that is of great interest to numerous people, including those who are fortunate enough to live with nonhuman companions, those who are lucky enough to study them, and those who are interested in other animals for a wide variety of reasons."
(Marc Bekoff Psychology Today)

"King's thoughtful, warm-hearted prose will raise awareness and amaze readers."
(Publishers Weekly)

"King makes a compelling case for the rich and deep emotional lives of other animals."
(PETA)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (March 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226436942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226436944
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a wife, mom, animal lover, cat rescuer, ape-watcher, anthropologist, avid reader of novels and non-fiction, and of course writer! I love my work and how close it brings me to other species, ranging from gorillas and baboons to cats and turtles.

In recent years I've brought together my love of animals and my love of anthropology in writing books about what it means to be human. My recent book BEING WITH ANIMALS tells stories of emotions and behaviors expressed by apes, monkeys, elephants, whales, cats, and dogs to explore why we humans so readily care so deeply for other creatures. It spans the art caves of ancient France, the past-and-present reindeer cultures of Siberia, and our own present-day love of pets.

At home, my husband Charlie, daughter Sarah (see photo where she is pictured with me!) and I care for a large number of homeless/abandoned cats: 7 in the house, 11 in a spacious pen in our yard, 2 strays that hang around with us, and 7 at a nearby colony. The joy we get from interacting with animals at home, in national parks throughout the US, and indeed anywhere we travel is a huge part of our lives.

Please visit my website http://www.barbarajking.com to listen to some of my radio interviews or to read back entries in my FRIDAY ANIMAL BLOG (new ones will be available each week at the blog link here on Amazon). I'd also love to hear your own animal stories through the contact page there.

Customer Reviews

I LOVE the book and I've only read the first few chapters!
Barbara
Barbara captured my mind and heart with her stories of animal connections and her knowledge of the science behind the stories.
TinaTinaBoBina
It is easy to read, although the subject matter is difficult.
Lambie's MOM

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Lambie's MOM on April 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book, much of it is very sad, however, it is well written with many examples of the title. Ms. King, provides irrefutable evidence and example after example of animal grief.

I bought this book, because I had lost my beloved Jack Russell Terrier, "Shubael", (Old Nantucket name!) Shubael, had a kitty friend, who loved and cared for him in his declining years. The night before he died, she climbed into his bed and wrapped her paws around him, sheltering him and keeping him warm...she purred him to sleep and he rested comfortably, through the night. Since he died, she has not been the same. I bought this book, because I knew that animals grieved, they are like humans. Only many humans are too selfish, greedy, uncaring or disinterested to acknowledge that animals, grieve.

This work of Ms. King's is a watershed, in my opinion. It is easy to read, although the subject matter is difficult. If anyone has ever seen a group of horses surround a companion in death, then they will understand. Cows, do the same. I have heard of captive and wild birds, pass away soon after their bird friends have died. I have known cats, who do the very same.

This book shatters the long held beliefs that animals have no emotions or feelings. This book is a joy, in its own way to read. It gives credence, in written form to what many, many pets owners have surely known. Finally, there is an acknowledgement, to the evidence that many pet and animal owners have witnessed for years and years. Pigs, do it, sheep do it, dolphins do it, whales do it. Killer whales, do it!!! Some higher level, fish do it!!!

Death is also difficult, for most higher order animals. It is only humans, who up until this point, have decided that we are the only ones with any emotions.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lillian j. callahan on May 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought it very interesting. Its time we stop treating life that's not us as inferior or devoid of emotions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kinseyka on May 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book - felt it was a fascinating topic - and found myself wishing there were more. I suspect there are many of us out there that can share our own stories about the display of grief or caring from one animal to another. The author was trying very carefully to maintain a sense of "science" about it --
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By shoelover on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I HAVE READ TWO BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR AND WAS IMPRESSED WITH HOW TOUCHING YET, FACTUAL, HER RESEARCH WAS. ANYONE WHO CARES FOR ANY ANIMAL, SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Daughety on May 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would reccomend this book to everyone. It is in great detail and easy to understand. I dearly loved this book and it told me things I never knew.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kitty on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very good and enlightening read for those who would like to learn more about animals. I am an Animal Behaviourist and am currently studying Animal Psychology. How Animals Grieve has some very informative reference material.
kitty
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barbara on June 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I LOVE the book and I've only read the first few chapters! I am actually editing my "animal" book and now I have to tweak a chapter on love. GREAT BOOK!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P.A. De Voe on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book for anyone that loves animals. I always thought that animals grieved, now I myself am convinced, well written, well researched. Thank you Barbara King!!
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