We’ve all heard the stories – pods of dolphins with complex social hierarchies, elephants that mourn their dead. But what of animals a little closer to home?
Two new books books have arrived on our shelves to expose the hidden genius of animals you don’t have to pay to see in a zoo.
Peter Wohlleben manages an ecologically sustainable woodland in Germany where he spends a great deal of time among our feathered and furry counterparts.
He was recently propelled onto the world stage with his incredible book, The Hidden Life of Trees, an examination of how trees communicate in an interconnected network, sending and receiving nutrients from one another in family groups.
In his new book, The Inner Life of Animals, Wohlleben sheds light on the animal kingdom with dozens of stories of the creatures that inhabit his world – ravens, pigs, fauns, squirrels and more. He demonstrates how animals communicate, experience emotion, dream and thinks creatively.
This, it seems, happens right across the animal kingdom.
It’s not just large, long-lived mammals like whales and elephants that feel complex emotions and it’s not just apex predators like lions or bears that come up with ingenious solutions to find sustenance.
Wohlleben will introduce you to pigs that learn their own names and hedgehogs who have nightmares, and he’ll teach you why you should never try to rescue a baby deer that’s been left behind by its mother.
The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young is one of my new favourite books.
It came about when author Rosamund Young and family took a particularly organic approach to raising cattle on their farm in Gloucestershire. They named their cows as individuals and allowed them as much or as little human interaction as they wanted. The cows were given free rein over their many acres to graze when, where and with whom they liked.
Just how these VIP cows chose to go about their relatively free lives astonished Young and her whole community. She quickly learned that within her cohort of bovines was a sophisticated group of individuals with their unique preferences and relationships with one another. In her affectionately told collection of stories, you’ll meet Fat Hat, Gemima, Chippy Minton and more. You’ll learn of their rivalries, their bad habits and their finest moments and see you’ll how cows play, form bonds and are affected by tragedy.
Not only will you find out a whole lot of stuff on cows, but you might also learn a thing or two about humans as well and for that this book’s worth its weight in gold.