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Carl Safina recommends

Explore these resources on how we know what animals are thinking and feeling

Animal research

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    Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

    Carl Safina
    Henry Holt and Co., 2015

    This is the book upon which Carl Safina’s TED talk is based.

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    The Geese of Beaver Bog

    Bernd Heinrich
    Harper Perennial, 2005

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    Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity

    G. A. Bradshaw
    Yale University Press, 2010

    The main take-away from this book for me is the author’s argument that emotional trauma in elephants is identical—not just analogous—to emotional trauma in humans, because the brain structure and chemistry that facilitates emotional bonding and responds to trauma in both species is essentially identical. That idea prompted me to ask myself a question about why I feel differently about certain animals such as fish than others such as elephants, dolphins, or apes.

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    Orca: The Whale Called Killer

    Erich Hoyt
    Camden House, 1990

    I believe this is the first book about killer whales (also called orcas). The author has worked with them in captivity and then, for most of his career, as free-living creatures in charge of their own lives. He has deep knowledge and insights, first-hand experience and broad historical perspective on humanity’s very mixed relationship with this astonishing being.

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    Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

    Frans de Waal
    W. W. Norton & Company, 2016

    This is his latest book, due to come out in 2016.

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    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

    Elizabeth Kolbert
    Picador, 2015

    After we better understand who we are here on Earth with—as exemplified in the books above—we need to know what we are doing to our co-voyagers. There are many books and many sites about conservation, as well as constant news stories. But for book form, this is a good summary of the main message. A good website about conservation news, by the way, is

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    Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds

    Bernd Heinrich
    Harper Perennial, 2007

How do we know what animals are thinking?