Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace

Holt. Apr. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781250173331. $29.99. NAT HIST
Humans have their own idea of what culture is, but animals have cultures too, says ecologist and conservationist Safina (nature and humanity, Stony Brook Univ.; Beyond Words). Culture is how humans and animals learn to survive, and culture adapts to change. Yet there is more to it, as Safina explores in his latest book, which is divided into three sections: Families, Beauty, and Peace. Families focuses on sperm whales, Beauty on macaws, and Peace on chimpanzees, although there is overlap on these subjects, and other animals and case studies are mentioned. Beauty is shorter in comparison, and at first, Peace seems ironic as much of it covers aggression and sex. Safina’s frank conversations with experts and wonderfully descriptive writing from the field places readers right in the action. However, he also sometimes rephrases similar points and poses questions for thought, musing until readers lose an understanding of the initial thesis.
VERDICT Though wide ranging at times, this work should interest fans of Safina and general readers seeking to learn more about animal behavior.
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