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How Animals Grieve Hardcover – March 21, 2013
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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
(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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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. I have personally, seen animals wither and die from the loss of a friend, just like humans...we are not alone in our grief and we should be evolving enough to understand this concept. Ms. King, lays animal grief at our doorstep and makes us wiser human beings for it.
And for all you ELEPHANT POACHERS, out here..ELEPHANTS grieve the longest and take death the hardest!! So, stop poaaching elephants..
For example, the author challenges the reader to doubt the presence of emotion because not all animals in the same study cohort expressed emotion. Then, deep within text is the thought that maybe we should not expect all animals of the same species to express emotion in the same manner. That thought could have benefited from a broader, scientific comparison. Indeed, not all humans express grief, nor do we all express grief in the same manner. That difference does not mean our spieces is devoid of emotion, and it should not mean that the study cohorts, the animals, are devoid of emotion.
The book would benefit from a structured statistical comparison of animal to human. Our species cultures and the emotions expressed are so varied, yet we choose to not presume any human group is completely devoid of emotion. Do we all cry at the same tragedy or laugh at the same joke? No, of course not. Yet we fail to allow animal species that same consideration.
Why do we still doubt that we are so very different than animals? Could it be we should study what prohibits us giving animals that respect?