Rating: 5 stars
“Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship and Conservation” by Marc Bekoff is a must-read book for anyone who professes to love animals.
Forget the cutesy title — the book is filled with essays written by the animal lover and professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology. Bekoff knows his stuff. He has written over 800 popular essays on animal emotions and scientific theories. He writes about research by other scientists, including Brian Hare, author of “The Genius of Dogs,” and explains why we need to think about nonhuman animals’ feelings.
Some of the essays are quite esoteric while others are very practical and informative. Bekoff explains animals’ cognitive abilities and discusses their ability to experience empathy, grief, humor and love.
Most animal lovers know that our dogs and cats experience pain and emotion. But did you know animals can experience PTSD?
In his essay entitled “I’ll Have What She’s Having: Dogs Do It, Too,” Bekoff explains that often dogs will emulate humans and copy their actions. Many of us have seen our dogs copy other dogs’ actions. My own dogs refused to eat a piece of grapefruit that was offered to them. But when my foster dog, PT, eagerly gobbled it up, the others followed suit. Every one of them.
Another essay is about Jasper, a moon bear rescued from a cage where he was kept immobile for years so that his bile could be extracted. Animals Asia, started by Jill Robinson, works hard to change the fate of moon bears (and other bears) in China and other countries in Asia. She and Bekoff wrote the picture book “Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears,” which I cannot read aloud without choking up at the end. Every time I read it. (It’s a wonderful book for children ages six and up about forgiveness and compassion.)
Bekoff takes on the subject of zoos and talks about a dark secret. Many zoos kill animals that are not “needed” because they don’t fit into the zoos’ breeding plans. They wait to kill the animals until after the parents care for them through the infant stages. Is that because baby animals draw visitors? They claim it’s so that the parents have the experience of parenting. He also clarifies what that should be called. “Euthanasia” is mercy killing of a living being who is suffering. Unwanted animals who are healthy are not suffering. It should be called “zoothanasia” instead. Killing healthy animals.
Bekoff simply does not shy away from telling it like it is.
About SeaWorld he writes, “SeaWorld is really a SeaJail and a whale mill and should be ashamed of how they keep highly sentient beings and for continuing to deceive an unknowing public about what they really do and why they do it. Simply put, SeaWorld heartlessly abuses amazing animals, forces them to perform stupid and unnatural tricks, forces them to breed, and doesn’t allow them to retire, all in the name of money.”
Bekoff’s vision for the future: “Phasing out zoos in favor of sanctuaries where individuals can live out their lives with respect and dignity should be the focus of future efforts to enrich and honor the lives of the numerous animals who find themselves languishing in captivity.”
Marc Bekoff is a hero. The animals in this world are extremely lucky to have such a compassionate, prolific writer on their side.
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by New World Library for review purposes.