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The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure Hardcover – May 9, 2011

11 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure + Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good + Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals (MacSci)
Price for all three: $51.01

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An exuberant look at animal pleasure.”
(Katherine Bouton New York Times 2011-07-18)

“An irresistible new photo book.”
(Maureen Callahan New York Post 2011-07-24)

“Intersperses glorious images of animals preening, grooming and gallivanting with snippets of studies suggesting such behaviours belie an overly utilitarian interpretation.”
(Tiffany O'Callaghan New Scientist 2011-05-07)

“Here is a book to put a spring into anyone’s step. The Exultant Ark is a celebration of animal behaviour at its most uplifting.”
(Stuart Blackman Bbc Wildlife Magazine 2011-06-01)

“All readers of this column must immediately purchase Jonathan Balcombe’s fabulous book.”
(Leigh Dayton The Australian 2011-10-22)

“One of those rare volumes that will look good on your coffee table but might also change the way you think.”
(Harold Herzog American Journal Of Play 2012-02-20)

“This visually stunning book opens our eyes to a different, more scientifically up-to-date way of looking at the animal kingdom. . . . Old attitudes fall away as we gain a heightened sense of animal individuality and of the pleasures that make life worth living for all sentient beings.”
(Ian Paulsen The Guardian / Birdbooker Report Blog 2011-06-19)

“This is one of those rare volumes that will look good on your coffee table but might also change the way you think.”
(Hal Herzog Psychology Today 2011-11-25)

“The studies he [Balcombe] invokes are hard to explain away. . . . Likewise, the photographs that make up the bulk of The Exultant Ark remind us that we are not as different from other animals on our planet as we like to think; the photos are anecdotal in nature, but they are utterly compelling.”
(Scott F. Parker Rain Taxi Review Of Books 2011-07-01)

“Both the stunning photography and Balcombe’s masterful prose are welcome additions to the growing literary and scientific evidence that debunk long-assumed myths while continuing to eliminate the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them.’”
(Veg News Mag 2011-09-01)

From the Inside Flap

“It is rare to find a scientist writing with such delight about, of all things, joy in the animal world! I have rarely experienced such pleasure in reading a book. I recommend it to all animal lovers, and even challenge a few skeptics, whose minds may be changed by this extraordinary work.”—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep

“The Exultant Ark brilliantly and definitively demonstrates what pet owners have always known but what certain scientists still question, that animals think, feel, and have emotions, often pleasurable ones. It’s a must-read for anyone with even the slightest interest in the truths of the natural world. I couldn’t put it down!”—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Deer and The Hidden Life of Dogs

“There is no question that the whales experience pleasure when they sing, that the wolf enjoys howling at the moon, that lion cubs enjoy wrestling with each other. I love books like this, that challenge the rigidity of human prejudices, that open our minds to other realities and revolutionary perspectives, that question both our collective ignorance and our arrogance as humans.”—Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

"The Exultant Ark bubbles over with joy. Its important words and moving photographs offer powerful proof of what we knew was true all along: the pleasure of animals is vividly real and matters deeply—both to the animals who experience it, and to we humans who are privileged to share their happiness. Rejoice!”—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Birdology

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520260244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520260245
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I was born in England, raised in New Zealand and Canada, and have lived in the United States since 1987. I studied biology in Toronto and Ottawa before earning a PhD in ethology (animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, studying communication in bats. My career has been focused mainly on animal protection. I have worked for several non-profit organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, as well as a for-profit company, Immersion Medical. I have written many scientific papers and lay-articles on animal behavior, animal research, and humane education. Recently, I decided to leave traditional office life, and now work as a private consultant. My services include writing for lay- and academic-audiences, public speaking, editing, and creative input. And, of course, I write books! In addition to the three you see featured here, I have another scheduled for publication by the University of California Press around September, 2010. It is titled Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure, and it features stunning photos of animals in pleasurable situations. In my new consulting capacity I am preparing to teach a course (Jan - March 2010) called Animal Behavior, Animal Minds and Animal Protection, for Humane Society University. I also teach soccer clinics to young children aged three to seven. In addition to my professional work, I enjoy biking, wilderness, kayaking, piano (especially Bach), painting, travel, vegan cooking and baking, and reading (preferably with a cat on my lap). I have two websites, www.jonathanbalcombe.com, and www.pleasurablekingdom.com, where (among other things) I post upcoming media and speaking engagements, and occasional musings.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bernard De Koven on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's an oddly odd notion - the idea of animal pleasure. Odd, because we think it's odd to think of animals experiencing anything as human-like as actual pleasure. Oddly odd, because it's so obvious that pleasure is central to the well-being of just about any animal you can think of.

So here we have Jonathan Balcombe's latest book, a work of art and deep sensitivity, The Exultant Ark. As you probably also know, we've been following Dr. Balcombe's wonderful thoughts for some time, each time with increasing enthusiasm. It's a beautiful book, filled with wonderful photographs of animals at play, dancing, loving, courting, comforting, befriending, engaging, embracing each other and their world.

It's also controversial, because, like human pleasure, animal pleasure does not seem to merit as serious consideration by the scientific world as pain. As Balcombe writes: "For all the progress made by science regarding animal feelings, the topic of pleasure remains nascent and largely neglected in scientific discourse...Curiously, animal's capacity for pain - while no less physically private then their capacity for pleasure - is uncontroversial."

And, a bit later:

"Today evidence is rapidly accumulating that life for animals holds great potential for joy. In a fresh-water spring in Kenya, hippopotami drift blissfully, splaying their toes, spreading their legs, and opening their mouths as fishes of various species provide a spa treatment by nibbling away bits of food, sloughing skin, and parasites. In a laboratory in Ohio, young rats come running to receive tickles from the fingers of a trusted human, uttering ultrasonic chirps linked to the origins of human laughter.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cayce on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My boyfriend gave me this book after hearing the author at a book signing. If you are going to have one animal pictorial book this should be it. The images are strikingly beautiful, but it's much more than that. Each photo includes a meaningful description (based on the actual photographer's experience when taking the photo) so the reader gets a true sense of what is really happening in the photo. The author also delves into helping us understand animals' lives differently than what most of us have been taught, and the images support that scientific analysis beautifully. I'm so glad to have this book on my coffee table.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Helena on May 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning book. The first few times I opened it, I just looked at the gorgeous photographs. This book is worth it just for that! However, once I started reading the text, I was absolutely fascinated. The author has done a very detailed study into the pleasure part of animal lives. He's done so in several chapters including "Play", "Food", "Touch", "Comfort" and "Companionship". It's a book you would just want to pick up now and then to look at photographs or read some stories. The ultimate coffee table book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book really is amazing on several levels. Yes, the pictures are beautiful and moving. But there's much more than pictures in what this book is expressing. What the author has to say is important (I'd love everyone to read him and HEAR what he's saying!) But these pictures were powerful in ways I didn't expect. The pictures revealed the "humanity" in creation. I saw in ways I'd never noticed what I've thought all along is true: That we are ONE with creation. In this book the dimensions of who we are--are evident in the animals in our world if we will just look--and see. These pictures collectively did that for me in a most powerful way. The expression captured in the faces of the monkeys...the human-like "hands" of the rat...the tenderness of the deer with the cat...they and we are all part of the Whole. What a beautiful journey that book took me on! I will be reflecting on these images for a long time to come, I'm sure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nancydrew on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
After reading several reviews, I got this book thinking I would just look through the pictures. But after that, I went back and read the text, and enjoyed the pictures and the book even more. Balcome's views on animal behavior/pleasure push the edge of mainstream animal research, probably, and he is open (as far as I could tell) about which of his observations need further research and which are at odds with current thinking. He challenges the reader to think beyond the western tradition of man's dominion over the animals. He makes a compelling case why, as more research is done on the range of animal consciousness, we should continue to need to revise how we share the earth with other species. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nanpet on June 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this lovely book and thought it was written with wit, warmth, and wonder. It will surely help more human animals appreciate the richness of the world we share with other sentient beings. The pictures were breathtaking.
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