Can horses feel shame? Do deer grieve? Why do roosters deceive hens?
We tend to assume that we are the only living things able to experience feelings but have you ever wondered what’s going on in an animal’s head? From the leafy forest floor to the inside of a bee hive, The Inner Life of Animals opens up the animal kingdom like never before. We hear the stories of a grateful humpback whale, of a hedgehog who has nightmares, and of a magpie who commits adultery; we meet bees that plan for the future, pigs who learn their own names and crows that go tobogganing for fun. And at last we find out why wasps exist.
German forester and author Wohlleben follows The Hidden Life of Trees by turning his attention from flora to fauna, thoughtfully exploring questions about the range of emotions experienced by animals. In 41 short chapters, he considers examples of animals exhibiting humanlike feelings, including love, courage, desire, grief, regret, and playfulness, weaving a web of delightful and stirring anecdotes drawn from personal observations and scientific studies. The mating rituals of Wohlleben's family's billy goat may be attributed to instinct, but his descriptions of more complex emotions, such as the embarrassment he says the younger of their two horses shows if they reprimand her in front of an older horse or the gratitude demonstrated by crows, are more intriguing. Wohlleben's anecdotes are enjoyable and thought-provoking, and take on a certain heft when shared alongside examples he takes from published scientific research, such as Koko, a female gorilla who learned to use sign language with help from a researcher at Stanford University. Wohlleben quickly whisks readers from one example to another, but they will find the brief encounters and Wohlleben's musings enchanting and enlightening.