How to Be Animal: Lessons in evolution for the human animal

Perhaps it is human nature to rank things. We rank cities and states and countries. We have the best restaurants and best movies; we even have best friends. And when it comes to our relationships with animals we share this planet with, there is a fair amount of ranking there as well, with the human …

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Writing for deer; writing for animals

Summer in Ashland, Oregon, means fawns following their mothers through the streets of our small town. The local deer are, sadly, a contentious issue. Many residents resent their appetites for rose bushes and other flora. Others have accused deer of assault (typically a mother deer’s instinct to protect her fawn). But a major reason we …

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Book Review: Phoenix Zones by Hope Ferdowsian

Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives by Hope Ferdowsian, MD, is among the many compassionate, powerful, inspiring books the world needs now. This slender book about trauma and healing portrays the lives of human and nonhuman animals from myriad parts of the world, examining the ways in which suffering—and healing—is universal across  borders …

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In Animal City our painful past is still painfully present

If I asked you to picture a “cow town,” you would probably picture a small town, surrounded by pasture, set far away from the big city. Yet in the 1800s, cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco were also cow towns. It was not unusual to see herds of cows squeezed through downtown streets, …

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Eager: The fall and rise of the North American beaver

Pity the keystone species. Those animals upon which the health of so many ecosystems depend — wolves and jaguars, sharks and sea otters, to name just a few. Due in large part to their outsized impact on our planet, they are often blamed for getting in our way. Wolves take our cows and sheep. Sea otters take our …

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Book Review: The Dog Merchants

Most dog lovers consider their canines loyal companions, best friends, or beloved family members. (Count me in that last category.) The American legal system considers them property. Journalist Kim Kavin, in her new book, The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers, suggests that we view dogs in a more provocative …

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Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors

The Laysan albatross is known as Mōlī in Hawaiian. It is difficult not to speak in superlatives when describing the albatross. The bird has a wingspan longer than most humans are tall. Albatross far outlive most other birds — with one active albatross now 64 years old. They spend most of their lives  at sea, gliding just a few inches above …

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Book Review: Landfill Dogs

In Landfill Dogs, photographer Shannon Johnstone pays homage to shelter dogs with images that capture their indelible spirit, but also the tenuousness of their existence. Johnstone awoke to the twin issues of shelter overpopulation and euthanasia several years ago when she began volunteering at her local animal shelter, North Carolina’s Wake County Animal Center. The …

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