written by Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone, forward by Mayim Bialik, PhD

As a lifetime lover of animals, I was immediately intrigued when I discovered this book. Although I’m not usually a great fan of non-fiction, I do enjoy learning when the subject is something that strikes a chord with me, and the phrase “new ways to show them compassion” did just that. I was hoping, selfishly, that those new ways to “show them compassion” wouldn’t be too unrealistic, and, (yay!), they’re not!

One of the authors is Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA. Realizing that PETA is a controversial organization, I was hoping that the book would be balanced and would truly provide discoveries about animals without being heavy-handed about how we mistreat them. I want to learn, but with all of the sadness and changes in the world as of late, I just couldn’t handle any guilt-inducing lectures right now. Thankfully, that was not the case for me. I am well aware of the plight of so many species, and the book did not sensationalize the information. There’s no arguing that Ms. Newkirk knows her stuff, and I can happily report that the book was, indeed, full of fascinating information.

Did you know, for instance, that horses can “read”? In a study conducted by a research team at Norwegian University of Life Sciences, published in the journal Applied Animals Behaviour Science in 2016, three signs were shown to horses: one that was entirely white, one with a black horizontal bar on a white background, and one with a black vertical bar on a white background. After eleven days the horses learned to indicate a preference - to have a blanket placed on their back, to have an existing one removed, or to keep things the way they were - by nudging a corresponding sign. Moreover, the researchers found the horses were visibly excited with their newfound communicative abilities, suggesting they could understand cause and effect. And this was only over the course of an eleven day experiment. Imagine what they’re truly capable of learning if the time investment was made. Maybe “Mr. Ed” wasn’t so atypical after all!

The other author of this book is Gene Stone, who have written forty-five books. After an early career as a book, magazine, and newspaper editor, he decided to devote his time and energy into writing books. Fourteen titles have reached The New York Times Bestseller list. Five have become #1 national bestsellers. Mr. Stone has worked with dozens of influential scientists, doctors, and business leaders; from astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, and many more. He’s written on a wide variety of subjects but recently he has focused on enlightening approaches to wellness and nutrition, including the benefits of a plant-based diet. His work is known for informing readers, and then gently inspiring change in how they think, work, and live. You can find many of his titles on our library shelves.

The collaboration of these two authors and their combined expertise results in a great read. Although some of the animal facts were quite detailed and required me to re-read a sentence or two (I have the brain of an old artist, not a scientist; shiny, pretty objects are my favorites, admittedly!), I was astonished to learn how animals use the pull of the moon, the rise of the sun, vibrations from the earth and more to navigate life on this big planet. There are facts about how animals navigate, communicate, love and play. There are easy-to-implement ideas on how we can avoid exploiting animals for clothing, entertainment, scientific research and food. This information, again, is presented in an informative and eye-opening way, generally without being too harsh.

From www.goodreads.com:

“The founder and president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, and bestselling author Gene Stone explore the wonders of animal life and offer tools for living more kindly toward them.

In the last few decades, a wealth of new information has emerged about who animals are—intelligent, aware, and empathetic. Studies show that animals are astounding beings with intelligence, emotions, intricate communications networks, and myriad abilities. In Animalkind, Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Stone present these findings in a concise and awe-inspiring way, detailing a range of surprising discoveries: that geese fall in love and stay with a partner for life, that fish “sing” underwater, and that elephants use their trunks to send subsonic signals, alerting other herds to danger miles away.

Newkirk and Stone pair their tour of the astounding lives of animals with a guide to the exciting new tools that allow humans to avoid using or abusing animals as we once did. They show readers what they can do in their everyday lives to ensure that the animal world is protected from needless harm. Whether it’s medicine, product testing, entertainment, clothing, or food, there are now better options to all the uses animals once served in human life. We can substitute warmer, lighter faux fleece for wool, choose vegan versions of everything from shrimp to sausage and milk to marshmallows, reap the benefits of medical research that no longer requires monkeys to be caged in laboratories, and scrap captive orca exhibits and elephant rides for virtual reality and animatronics.

Animalkind is a fascinating study of why our fellow living beings deserve our respect, and moreover, simple steps every reader can take to put this new understanding into action.”

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