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


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The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy - and Why They Matter + Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation + The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library (May 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577316290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577316299
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 Publishers Weekly

Any dog owner knows that her own pet has feelings, but what evidence exists beyond the anecdotal, and what does this evidence teach us? Bekoff, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado, pores through decades of animal research-behavioral, neurochemical, psychological and environmental-to answer that question, compelling readers to accept both the existence and significance of animal emotions. Seated in the most primitive structures of the brain (pleasure receptors, for example, are biologically correlative in all mammals), emotions have a long evolutionary history. Indeed, as vertebrates became more complex, they developed ever more complex emotional and social lives, "setting rules" that permit group living-a far better survival strategy than going solo. Along the way, Bekoff forces the reader to re-examine the nature of human beings; our species could not have persevered through the past 100,000 years without the evolution of strong and cohesive social relationships cemented with emotions, a conclusion contrary to contemporary pop sociology notions that prioritize individualism and competition. He also explores, painfully but honestly, the abuse animals regularly withstand in factory farms, research centers and elsewhere, and calls on fellow scientists to practice their discipline with "heart." Demonstrating the far-reaching implications for readers' relationships with any number of living beings, Bekoff's book is profound, thought-provoking and even touching.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Very insightful and full of great personal stories.
Meredith King
Through many observational stories by those who work with animals and through scientific study, Marc Bekoff illumines the field of animal intelligence and feeling!
Linda Fortune
This is the single best book on animal emotions I've ever read (and I've read a lot!).
Zoe Weil

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By J. Branson on May 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book, and I don't disagree with anything he says. However, he makes much of his case based on anecdotal evidence. He does cite scientific studies, but these are peripheral to the stories. I don't really mind this because I agreed with him before I ever started reading the book, and I enjoyed the stories. If he's looking to persuade people, which I think he should, he might have gone a little heavier on the science and a little lighter on the stories.

Regardless of whether he has proven his case about the emotions of animals, his book gives us one pivotal concept we can rely on: if we don't know for sure, the default assumption should be that animals do have emotions until proven otherwise. To paraphrase: If I assume animals feel pain and pleasure and love, and act accordingly, and then it turns out my assumption was wrong, I will have done no harm. However, if I assume that animals don't have feelings, and then it turns out I was wrong, I may have caused immeasurable damage.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Do no harm is the essence of this book. It provides colorful insight into the real emotional lives of various animals. The author used a wide variety of sources, & field observations from wildlife biologists. The section on neurobiology were the most interesting for me. The fact that animals share several of our neural structures for emotion came as no surprise to this lay person. I have always felt {& have been bashed plenty for it}, that animals often represent the better half of human nature that we sometimes submerge. Dogs, Reptiles, Monkeys, Rats, Moon Bears, Whales & Elephants are all here. The latter are probably the most fascinating creatures in the book? The authors advocacy for animals was very refreshing to this animal lover. His basic thesis gives us a crucial point, "that if we are not certain about an animals emotions, we should presume that they often feel exactly what we humans do." For that compassionate view I had to up my four star impression to a hearty five.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Madden on April 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Marc Bekoff's The Emotional Lives of Animals is a wonderful book. I was impressed by the scope and depth of the research underlying the book, and by the way that Bekoff makes scientific data interesting and accessible to a general readership. The writing is lively; Bekoff weaves together stories of animal emotions with scientific data supporting his ideas about animal empathy, fairness, grief, pleasure, joy, and sadness. And his thesis is hardhitting: If animals do indeed live the rich emotional lives that Bekoff describes--and we have every reason to believe they do--then we may, by force of logic, be led to reconsider our moral obligations to them. Bekoff is obviously passionate about his subjects, but never does his writing sound strident. Instead, he uses humor and grace to navigate the controversial terrain of animal welfare.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Nystrom on April 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you want to read just one book which provides insight into the complex emotional lives of animals this is it. Dr. Bekoff draws from a wide array of sources, including personal anecdotes from animal lovers and field observations from wildlife biologists, to arguments about Darwinian evolution and continuity, to the latest discoveries in neurobiology which demonstrate that animals share many of our same neural structures for emotion. The wonderful stories about grief, joy, awe, humor and other emotions in a variety of animals, including rats, dogs, elephants, whales, macaws, chimpanzees, monkeys, and moon bears will make you smile and cry.

Dr. Bekoff, however, doesn't stop at simply making the case for animal emotions but goes beyond to argue that given our understanding of the rich emotional lives of animals that we have an ethical obligation to treat our fellow animals with compassion and respect and he discusses current abuses including factory farms, medical research, and zoos. As someone who has worked on animal welfare issues and is interested in animal behavior, it's Dr. Bekoff's advocacy for animals that I find most inspiring for he is one of those rare scientists who argue that what we know imposes an ethical obligation to act. Although many scientists now accept that animals have rich emotional lives, Dr. Bekoff has been at the forefront of the movement arguing--as a scientist--for the complex emotional lives of animals. His willingness to take on the skeptics and see his fellow animals as being the rich, emotional, complex beings that they are is an inspiration to us non-scientists who work with and care for animals. Dr.
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