Cindy's Reviews > Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
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's review
Apr 04, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in March, 2009

An interesting and thought-provoking book by an autistic scientist, a Ph.D. in animal science, who is a professor at Colorado State University. This book was written in collaboration with another scientist, also a Ph.D., who specializes in neuropsychiatry and who is also the mother of two of three sons with autism.

It is clear throughout the book that autism has provided Grandin with extraordinary insights into animals and (perhaps) extraordinary patience with animals. In one example, she takes a week to condition a group of prey animals (llamas or gazelles) in a zoo to the presence of a new door or a differently colored sign. I couldn't wait 24 hrs to introduce a new pd to my resident pet pds.

In another example, Grandin easily identifies why cattle are suddenly spooked by an entryway by slowly following the path of the cattle through the entryway and absorbing perceptions so detailed they would be almost imperceptible to the average person.

It appears her autism provides her with the ability to tap into different modes of perception, nonspecific (human) and specific (autistic and animal). Her treatment with modern antidepressants has provided her with the ability to cope with an overwhelming anxiety disorder and the opportunity to achieve, among other things, a Ph.D.

She works primarily with feed animals--consulting with private corporations on humane policies and practices for raising and killing animals for food. She also consults with zoos on habitat, behavior, and quality of life issues. She has a philosophical acceptance of certain practices, i.e., hunting, as a byproduct of the ability to maintain wild populations.

The subtitle of the book is "Creating the best life for animals," which was of particular interest to me as a pet owner of domestic mice (two "colonies" of many mice) and six wild prairie dogs (pds).

Grandin actually mentions research on pds that attempts to decode their fairly sophisticated language. They have specific calls for different predators and the complexity to communicate the location and immediacy of threats.

I acknowledge my emotional and often irrational sentiments regarding animals and wild animal populations. I grew up with Bambi. I care about polar bears. I acknowledge I am also a carnivore. I love rare steaks. I can accept black-footed ferrets eating pds, but I don't want to see them in action. I respect hunters. But I also think people who shoot pds for sport using rifles with long-range telescopic sights are not hunters, per se.

I would like to read more of Grandin's work.

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Appreciated your thorough discussion of this book. I heard her on a radio interview quite a few years ago, and have always meant to find out more about her. I was a tiny bit puzzled that your review sounded quite positive, but you only gave it three stars.

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