DRAWING THE LINE: Science and the Case for Animal Rights

Steven M. Wise, Author . Perseus $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7382-0340-9

Whether or not one accepts Wise's premise that certain animal species meet the law's criteria for personhood, his book is a fascinating examination of animal behavior and intelligence. Crammed with data, case studies and reports from the field, it engages the reader in a thoughtful debate about the place of animals in a world dominated by humans. Not only does Wise (Rattling the Cage) know how to build a logical argument for legal rights for some animals, he also knows how to tell a good story. From early morning forays in Ugandan mountain forests, where he observes the complex behavior and social structure of chimpanzees, to the MIT Media Lab, where he chronicles the astounding mental agility of its resident parrot-scholar, Alex, Wise strengthens his case and intrigues the reader with his tales. The narrative includes creatures both exotic (the loving family groups of elephants in Kenya) and common (our beloved companion dogs)—and there's even the occasional animal celebrity (Wise visits Koko the gorilla and her teacher, Penny Patterson, and has a somewhat stilted but still very incredible conversation with the primate). Readers who have in the past dismissed the arguments for animal rights as trivial or foolish may not be persuaded to the opposite view, but they will find some of their assumptions strongly challenged. For those who already champion animal rights, this book will further convince them of their just cause. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/20/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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