Mama's Last Hug: Animal and Human Emotions

Norton. Mar. 2019. 336p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393635065. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393635072. NAT HIST
Ethologist and zoologist de Waal (Emory Univ.; Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are??) uses his discoveries from a lifetime of studying primates to explore similarities in human and animal emotions, with a particular interest in reconciliation and conflict resolution. He argues that behaviorism—a focus on observable behavior—has led to the idea that animals only react to outside stimuli. He discusses the effects of this view on human-animal relations. Building on previous studies, the author advocates for the existence of a more complex emotional life in animals. He criticizes the theory that humans and animals act first in their own selfish interest; rather, he sees social connectivity as an essential component of both human and animal societies. He concludes with a plea to rethink the way humans treat animals, especially those we raise for our own use. Applying wide-ranging examples, from primates to schools of fish, he skillfully illustrates that emotions are an essential part of intellect for all species.
VERDICT Recommended for readers with an interest in the crossroads of animal and human life.
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