Review published on February 6, 2018.
Animals of all kinds have played a part in the human story from way back; they have been companions, used for work, providing and actually being the food in a lot of cases too. Whilst some have been cherished, lots have been treated as pure commodities and we have often been quite cruel, usually because people thought that they were not capable of communicating or had emotions.
The latest scientific research and observations though suggest a very different story. Lots is known about dolphins and whales though we are not very far down the road of understanding what is being said, and it turns out there are a lot of other animals that communicate in one way or another, but there is another world that is slowly being revealed. They have discovered instances of animals feeling shame, sadness, regret as well as the way they can consciously select partners.
I really enjoyed Peter Wohlleben’s first book, The Hidden Life of Trees, a subject he knows a lot about having been a forester for around three decades, and the intimacy of his knowledge there shines like a blade of sunlight through the glade. With this, he is out of his comfort zone somewhat and even though he is drawing on personal experience and scientific research to highlight just how animals behave. Whilst it may have a grounding in science, this is primarily anecdotal evidence and also shows how we as humans project our not fully understood emotions and habits onto all sorts of different species. Still worth reading as some of the stories in here are quite entertaining.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohlleben
Bodley Head 9781847924544 hbk Oct 2017
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