"Do animals have feelings?" so begins a thought-provoking, curious, and entertaining read. The format of the book is rather straight-forward. Each section starts with a definition of a feeling or characteristic that is normally attributed solely to humans. Next, short examples of animals exhibiting what appear to be said attribute are shared. Finally, readers are asked to reflect on the accounts and decide for themselves whether they are worthy examples of characteristics such as joy, helpfulness, deceitfulness, and compassion. Each sections ends with a prompt that elicits introspection and the reader is invited to come up with his own observations or her own opinions.
But the stories that Do Animals Have Feelings? shares are anything but straight-forward and mundane. I often found myself shaking my head in wonder, smiling, feeling just a little misty-eyed, and asking myself, "Can this be true?"
If I were forced to select only two favorites, they would be the story about two chimpanzees named Sherman and Austin in the Communication section and the Rhesus Monkey covered in Cleverness. The rhesus, using a banana and a moose (yes, a moose), manages to escape from a monkey enclosure not once or twice but three times! Sherman and Austin's communication via computers and corresponding English symbols is fascinating. There are less flashy but all the same astounding examples of Compassion, Grief, and Joy.
Rice does not directly cite the stories, but he does list the sources for each in the back of the book. I think this is a great resource for the older reader to dig a little bit deeper and evaluate the primary sources on their own. I know that I am certainly curious.
This is the second book I have read from Dawn Publications, and I have to say that I am impressed. I will definitely keep an eye out for additional titles to add to my library documenting some of the natural wonders of our world.
Reviewed by Stephanie Ashley