Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion
by Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Stone
2020, Hardcover, 304 pages
In Animalkind, at last we have the quintessential guidebook for animal rights, and for improving the quality our own lives by respecting and caring for the lives of animals.
The book begins with stirring dedications to animal rights advocate and activist Nanci Alexander, and to the memory of the late Jain master Gurudev Chitrabhanuji, “who asked everyone to regard all living beings as our brothers and sisters.” This ancient concept goes back thousands of years to the Buddha who wrote “When we have learned to love not our separate life, but all living things, then at last we shall find peace.” The genius of this book is its combination of ethical theory with the bold new world of practical ideas that put this theory into practice and create positive and lasting change.
The book is divided into two large sections: I. Remarkable Discoveries about Animals; and II. Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion.
The first section delightfully illustrates amazing facts and stories about the animal world. Animals think, animals feel, animals communicate, animals play, and animals love. Here we are amazed to learn:
— Squirrels bury their nuts according to the position of the stars. And squirrels frequently deceive us: If squirrels see that someone is watching them as they start to dig, they will slyly hide the nut inside their mouth, and pretend to bury non-existent nuts in the hole that is being watched.
— Godwit birds can fly 7,000 miles without stopping.
— Sheep can recognize human beings in photos.
— Cows can be trained to press a button that requests a blanket, then when they are too warm, press a different button that calls a person to get the blanket removed.
— Western painted turtles can remain underwater, holding their breath for more than 100 days.
— Spider silk, pound for pound, is stronger than Kevlar, and 10 times stronger than steel.
The chapter about animal communications is astonishing, featuring the memories of dolphins, the long-distance songs of whales, and primates who know sign language. And the chapter “Intricacies of Love” would warm the coldest heart of Uncle Scrooge — and make him laugh out loud, as well. If you believe a broken heart is painful, pity the plight of the male praying mantis:
“Female praying mantises lure males with pheromones, enticing him to engage in a courtship dance. if his moves impress her, the much larger female consents to mate. But if the male misses a step and his prospective mate isn’t intrigued, she bites his head off and devours his corpse.”
Not just the dangers of relationships — the love, the grief, the mothering, and the empathy of animals is all succinctly told.
Part II of the book is a call to action, exploring the many things we can do to end cruelty and treat animals with the compassion they deserve. Scientific research can be conducted without inflicting pain on animals. Clothing need not come from fur, leather, wool, down, or silk — but many alternatives including cotton and other plant-based materials. Our entertainment can be changed, so that animals are no longer enslaved.
Most significant of all is the revolution about the way we eat. Vegan eating improves our health and saves countless animal lives. The authors write:
“Once your eyes start to open, and you see what goes on behind the scenes, it is vital not to try to turn away, but, as Tolstoy said, to come closer and to try to help.”
This book does the world a world of good. In Animalkind, Newkirk and Stone have expanded the beauty of the word “biophilia”, and given us the clearest possible roadmap for healing, and for creating a new world where all living beings truly live in peace.
For more information about helping animals, visit PETA at https://www.peta.org/.
— Michael Pastore