The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife

Basic. Apr. 2018. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465094646. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780465094653. SCI
As founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, British author and wildlife documentarian Cooke (A Little Bit of Sloth) has a particular affinity for the world's most misunderstood and maligned creatures—hyenas, turkey vultures, bats, and the like. Here, the author demystifies layers of myth and legend surrounding 13 animals, tracing the source of negative and erroneous views about them to the Bible, medieval bestiaries, and ill-informed naturalists, both ancient and modern. Whether she's ingesting castoreum (beaver anal glands) to see if it can cure a headache or hand gliding on thermal updrafts to experience vulture aerodynamics, Cooke is game to try almost anything to get to the bottom of absurd animal myths. She even sets the record straight about some of our favorite animals: penguins and pandas. Each essay in this collection brims with the author's sense of wonder at the quirky but successful ways evolution has equipped certain species to survive.
VERDICT In word and deed, Cooke is a one-woman animal appreciation society. Her wit, humor, and infectious curiosity about this "menagerie of the misunderstood" will appeal to natural history enthusiasts of all stripes.
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