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The Parrot's Lament, and Other True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
A gorilla shrewdly sells back a missing key chain to the highest bidder. An orangutan picks a lock to let himself out of his zoo enclosure and two elephants adopt a tag-team strategy to keep their handlers from putting them back into theirs. In The Parrot's Lament, noted environmentalist Eugene Linden offers more than one hundred true anecdotes about animal acts of coopera ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Plume (first published 1999)
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Jun 12, 2009 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Linden relates anecdotal evidence that animals, when faced with actual situations, can be as conniving and as thoughtful in solving problems as a young child. These are observations taken from people who work professionally with animals so are familiar with typical behaviors. In relating these stories as evidence of animal cognition there is a high degree of reliable observation that is not anthropomorphizing. Later Linden follows up with supporting experimental results but these are simple cont ...more
Dakota McCoy
Dec 30, 2016 Dakota McCoy rated it it was amazing
One of the most excellent books on animal cognition that I have read in many moons. The grieving orca story is astounding!
Oct 14, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
I'm persistently disappointed with this book. The title and introduction promise a series of stories without the attempt to add scientific questions and theorizing. That's what seems to be promised. And there are a great many interesting stories, some of which I haven't encountered in other books. But the scientific drivel that you have to wade through between stories is tedious at the best of times. The book doesn't present itself as a scientific study, and it really isn't, and yet the author a ...more
Anna Engel
Dec 28, 2016 Anna Engel rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating not-so-scientific look at animal behavior beyond survival of the fittest. Rather than spending all their time finding food, mating, and sleeping, it turns out that animals are more complex than traditionally thought. We constantly anthropomorphize animals – especially our pets – and it may not be completely wrong. Overall, I enjoyed the book, particularly the anecdotal evidence provided by the author and his scientific research.
Tippy Jackson
Nov 14, 2009 Tippy Jackson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animalia, alex
This is one of my all time favorite books, especially books about animals. Eugene Linden does a fantastic job of sharing wonderful, fascinating and mind boggling stories about animals. Some of the things described could be purely coincidental and others are so exact I don't see how they could. A lot of purely anecdotal observations, but so what? They are still observations and important to record and completely intriguing. The author states that this is what he's doing. He doesn't consider this ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Peacegal rated it really liked it
Parrot is a smart and fun read that animal lovers will enjoy. The author skillfully weaves scientific fact with serious moral questions and full-out humor. (I dare you not to laugh out loud when you read about Chantek the orangutan’s first encounter with a tiger.) While most of the animals Linden writes about are in captivity, he is also not afraid to discuss the both positives and negatives of keeping wild animals in human-controlled environments.

Perhaps Linden is less aware when he highlights
Oct 20, 2007 Speedtribes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I got hold of this book mainly for the intriguing cover of a cheetah nonchalantly sitting on a rowboat as a man ferries her and her cub across a body of water. I really wanted the hear the story of that image.

This book is chock full of so many anecdotes and stories about animals, their intelligence and their ability to reason about their surroundings. I was a little disappointed, however, to discover that the author mainly covered about Chimpanzees and parrots. (But mostly the chimps.) I had hop
Dec 21, 2011 Stacey rated it really liked it
I'm really glad I read this book. I enjoyed Eugene Linden's "The Octopus and the Orangutang" because it was very educational and a little humorous as well.

For one, this book gave me more insight as to how captive animals (mostly zoo animals) may be feeling about their surroundings. I like the humorous stories and examples that accompany Linden's research/findings. It is very insightful too. I think his books are a good premise for me before I get into my Biology degree.
I really like that the a
Mar 12, 2010 Brittany rated it liked it
This was a fascinating (and self-described unscientific) look at the intelligence of animals. More than anything it is a collection of anecdotes of extraordinary animal behavior and musings upon their possible explanations. It's exceeding entertaining; the type of book that compels you to read bits of it aloud to anyone who's sitting near you at the time.

It includes some fascinating stories of great ape and parrot behavior, as well as other stories of animals in zoos and captivity. It will ench
Malcolm Logscribe
Feb 28, 2016 Malcolm Logscribe rated it it was ok
This gets a star for funny/sweet/interesting anecdotes, but otherwise it's a mess. Totally into big cats being hand-reared in living rooms, totally into direct human contact with pretty much any animal, defensive about zoos, defensive about marine animals being kept in captivity, condescending about anthropomorphism but ignores any interesting questions about human vs nonhuman consciousness, condescending about everything. I didn't make it all the way through, which is a shame, as some of the an ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I have read a lot of books about emotions in animals and they are all very interesting. This book was by no means a bad book. It was interesting but not the most well-written. it was just a collection of anecdotes. There was an attempt at organization but it wasn't as well organized as it could be. Often you could forget what the chapter was about because the author would go on tangents that had little to do with what the chapter was really supposed to be about.
Dec 05, 2007 Marissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
This was Eugene Linden's first book on animal Intelligence. Since I read it out of order some stories seemed liek rehashing of previous topics. Still an excellent attempt to reopen the definitions of intelligence. Who says we are the most intelligent beings on earth?- we do? Does that mean there aren't other kinds of intelligence that we can't understand, yet? Of course... Excellent stories to illustrate his arguements- highly recommended!
Aug 22, 2008 Kendra rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I liked this book because I am interested in animal communication and behavior. It had some interesting stories that anyone would enjoy, but be forewarned it does read a little bit like a textbook. It took me a while to finish it even though it's not a very long book. I enjoyed it, but it's definitely not for everyone, only someone very interested in the subject or wanting to learn more about the subject.
Aug 17, 2011 Vivian rated it it was amazing
Great book which gives insights into the world of animals and how they interact with their surroundings, other animals, and people. Every action has a reaction and this book details the activities of animals, humsns, and environmental happenings along with the psychological elements.

This is worth reading for anyone who likes animals, is interested in psychology and psychiatry, as well as pet owners and trainers. The scientists may enjoy reading this too.
Oct 16, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it
Wow. I have rarely read a book on this subject in which I agreed so wholeheartedly with the authors opinion on animal intelligence. Yes, most of his evidence is anecdotal, but only because not enough real research has been done on the topic. I do wish he'd included more stories, though- he seemed to repeat a lot of them through different lenses. Still, I hope to find more of Linden's books.
Oct 26, 2014 Trina rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's a bit dry since it is written by a scientist (an environmentalist) who can't discount hundreds of true stories about animal intelligence and emotions. I enjoyed some of the tales he shares despite his constant disclaimer that it amounts to nothing more than anecdotal evidence. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone that animals do feel and are smart!
Jun 14, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Sooo interesting. The author says it's impossible to really know what's going on with somebody (someanimal) else, so arguing over what's intelligent and what's not is very difficult. So... let's just tell all these great true stories and see what impressions we're left with.
Oct 18, 2011 Diana rated it really liked it
Interesting! And funny! True animal stories. I received this as a gift from my sister, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Made my husband read the intro for the story of the cover photograph. He loved it.
Jan 31, 2014 Barb rated it it was amazing
This book reaffirmed my belief that we must treat animals as sentient beings, not just possessions for our entertainment or enrichment.

Please read this, then afford all the creatures you meet with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Jun 18, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it
Shelves: animal, non-fiction
Unscientific. Definitely reads in emotion that is not present. It probably would have been ranked higher with me, except that several people in this book have relationships with animals that make me uncomfortable - interacting freely with large cats, dealing with orcas, etc.
Mar 03, 2011 Ariana rated it really liked it
I liked the sequel, the Octopus and the Orangutan, more. I still really want to visit Camp Leakey in Borneo to hang out with the orangutans. Some day. . . Great, funny stories of animal intelligence.
Jun 02, 2007 Christine added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers
The author of this book is a serious reporter who has compiled the stories he heard and experienced over the years about animal behavior that shows intelligence, wit and other attributes that the scientific community is reluctant to grant. Great material.
Nov 02, 2009 Nancy rated it it was ok
The author took what was probably better published as an article and stretched it into a book. He had an interesting way of writing, but I got tired of reading about great ape escapes and antics.
Oct 04, 2016 Camilla rated it really liked it
A must for any animal lover. Especially if animal behaviour interests you. A little more science based in format than the second book (the octopus and the orangutan).
Jan 10, 2007 Adriane rated it it was amazing
Talks about animal behavior without idealizing or being anthropomorphic. A curious, and charming book that will make you re-evaluate the way you look at animals.
Apr 03, 2013 Beka rated it liked it
Some very interesting anecdotes on animal cunning and intelligence. Unfortunately, to get to those anecdotes, you also have to wade through a fair amount of erroneous conclusion based on evolution.
Jun 21, 2008 Jenel rated it really liked it
Love the stories relating animal behavior. The juxtaposition between the behavior of animals in captivity vs. the wild is compelling.
Aug 08, 2012 Lori rated it it was amazing
This is a very enjoyable and interesting book about the cognitive abilities of animals; their motivations and their feelings. Loved it!
Jason Landau
Mar 25, 2008 Jason Landau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
wonderful wonderful book for you animal lovers out there. True accounts of observations on animals. non-fiction.
Jun 25, 2012 Miranda rated it really liked it
This book is a joyful read about animals and their lives. Anecdotes will make you smile, laugh and occasionally wonder about how much we don't know about the lives of non-human animals.
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“The keepers would give the gorillas an assortment of fruits and vegetables each afternoon, and on this particular occasion, Judy Sievert tossed Nina an apple, which rolled away. Instead of going to get it, Nina just 'sat there sadly,' in Judy's words. Judy continued her rounds, handing out yams and apples to the other gorillas, but Nina sat there looking appleless and downtrodden. Taking pity, Judy tossed her another apple. As soon as Nina had it, she got up and went over to where the first apple had rolled away, taking it too.” 3 likes
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