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Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Animals Behaving Badly

While waiting for  my Honda's 120,000 mile servicing, I read Linda Lombardi's Animals Behaving Badly. It's a quick, fun read--humor more than natural history--by a zoo keeper. It's a catalog of examples of animals behaving contrary to the stereotypes people hold about them--behaving very badly indeed. The incidents are pretty funny as well as eye-opening, but perhaps not for the "bunny huggers" who need the illusion that animals are sweet and kind.

She cited a kea parrot in New Zealand who stole a Scottish man's passport, which took a lot of time and money to replace. He is quoted as saying: "My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The kea's probably using it for fraudulent claims or something."

She busts a lot of myths, such as "mated for life," documenting massive infidelity in the bird world, as well as routine infanticide, dolphin rapists, and skilled liars. Some animals love alcohol, others like hallucinogens, some go for narcotics. Unprovoked attacks, theft, bullying--she shows that the natural world is hardly Eden.

Come for the laughs more than the science, but she's got some sensible nuggets in there, too.

"... civilization is the opposite of nature for a reason--we invented it because nature is dangerous. In nature, something is always trying to kill you, because that's basically how the system works."

"...what's the problem with believing that faraway creatures are kind, noble beings frolicking in a land of rainbows and flowers? ... what's wrong is that since we haven't quite  managed to drive all our fellow creatures to extinction yet, people still do run into them from time to time. And believing that nature is benevolent and animals are noble and cuddly is likely to get you into some serious trouble."

Bless her heart, she cites her references at the end.

Link to Amazon
Link to Linda's blog

Disclaimer: Linda's publicist sent me a free copy. I don't know her personally and I wasn't paid for this review.

We're kind and noble. Really. You can trust us.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I'll have to check that book out. It sounds quite interesting.

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