Through stories and science ‘The Inner Life of Animals’ allows you to creep in to the day-to-day goings on of wild, domesticated and farm animals.
Peter Wohlleben’s book starts off with an anecdote of an exhausted squirrel and her battle to save its young. Straight away we are made to think whether this is motherly love or a pre-programmed behaviour to protect the next generation.
The rest of the books follows a similar pattern, taking the reader through numerous emotions and interactions including pain, gratitude, grief, joy, deception, regret, shame and happiness.
Are these feeling exclusive to the human race?
As each page turns, through scientific research, popular YouTube videos to Peter’s own personal accounts, we discover that there are many examples of where animals show feelings that were once thought only possible for species that are self- aware and have a conscious knowledge of their own feelings.
It is hard enough for a person to explain to another the depth of their pain, or why something makes them happy or why some people feel remorse and others don’t, let alone understand how species that lead different lives from us behave and feel.
This book looks at Crows who forward plan, Bees who remember people who have harmed them and Great tits who cry wolf.
My favourite examples were of slime mould that could memorise a maze and squirrels that stole and deceive each other.
The book left me wanting to learn more and sometimes the tiny pockets of information just weren’t enough.
So, if our evolutionary biological make up is the same, why can’t our feelings and behaviours be similar?
The last chapter touches lightly on politics, the farming industry and our fear as humans that we could lose our place at the top, as a reason for denial.
In the end, whether proven or not, through anecdotes or scientific evidence there is a lot about animals we still have no idea about.
‘The goal is not to make animals seem like us, but to help us understand them better’.
It is exciting to think we are on the edge of finding out more about the behaviour of the animals that we share our local patches with and it will certainly make me think more deeply about the animals I take photos of and blog about.
The Inner Life of Animals – Published 19th October 2017