Years ago, I became fascinated by the writings of a young naturalist named Dian Fossey. Her writings were so intriguing because they were not just dryly scientific journalism. Dian Fossey’s background was in education instead of zoology, and she used her observational abilities to describe the world around her. She had the ability to immerse the reader in her world of gorillas.
Animal Wise is a look at the emotions and intelligence of several species of animals: ants, fish, birds, parrots, rats, elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees—and dogs and wolves. Morell interviews the scientists who are doing cutting edge research into the animals’ minds and emotions. If you are an animal lover like I am, you do not need a scientist to tell you that animals have emotions. However, this book rejoices in each species, as the scientists who have devoted their lives to the study of these animals take such pride in their discoveries and have a fascination with the animals that they are researching.
Years ago when researchers were in heated debates about whether or not animals can think, I could have told them that they do. When I was first married I had an incredible dog named Doctor. One day when I was young and stupid, I had a knock on my door. There was a man standing outside my door whom I didn’t recognize, so I locked my screen door to keep my dog in and stepped outside to see what this man wanted. He began to ask me some very bizarre questions about the neighborhood. He kept stepping back to draw me away from my front door. Suddenly I found that I had gone into my front yard to talk to this strange young man. Red flags were going off in my brain at this point. He was about to ask me another odd question when he suddenly stopped and said, “I have to go.” He turned around and walked quickly away. I thought, “What a strange man that was!” When I turned around I discovered that Doctor had jumped up, unhooked the screen door, and was sitting behind me with his lips curled back in a silent growl. Evidently, he thought that the man was odd also.
When my husband bought me Alex & Me, by Irene Pepperberg, last year and gently said, “I think that you would like this," I politely thanked him and stubbornly put it on the shelf. A year later I picked it up and now I grudgingly have to admit that he was correct. I do love this book!