Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good

Jonathan Balcombe, Author . Macmillan $24.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-4039-8601-6

When birds take a dip in the water, is it to clean their feathers, or is it just plain fun? The author addresses such questions in a brisk, erudite and enormously entertaining contribution to the growing genre of books about the emotions of animals. Balcombe, an animal behavior research consultant for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, presents an excellent, approachable introduction to the basic issues in animal behavior, with the potential to gain a much wider reception than such classics as Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy's When Elephants Weep . By presenting evidence "from both scientific study and anecdote, that the animal kingdom is rich in pleasure," Balcombe balances a general philosophical look at the prevalence of pleasure among animals (he rejects the view that all behavior must be explained in terms of adaptation for survival) with detailed anecdotal evidence of how specific animals experience pleasure in play, food, sex, touching and love. But what may most attract readers to Balcombe's powerful argument "that animals have minds and feelings" is the cover photo: two smiling pigs nuzzling each other in an inescapably endearing pose. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/20/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-1-4039-8602-3
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-230-55227-2
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