Laura's Reviews > The Training of Wild Animals

The Training of Wild Animals by Frank Charles Bostock
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's review
Aug 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: animals, circus, nonfiction, zoo

It's hard to rate this one; as a training resources, it is not particularly detailed or practical (and focuses almost exclusively on large cats), but as a peek into the history of exotic animal training, it is perfect. My copy is actually the original 1903 edition, and is the earliest complete work on the subject I've read. The difference in attitude toward animals and training is fascinating.

The author frequently states that fear and cruelty are poor and ineffective methods in training animals, yet the techniques he describes are fairly harsh, relying a good deal on domination (and I deliberately use this term instead of "dominance"). He often comments on the amazing strength of the special power that man holds over animals. He describes many accidents and makes mention that it is virtually inevitable that animals will "go bad" after a few years, it is simply their nature (though in reality it probably has more to do with his techniques). Most interesting to me was the chapter on how they captured animals in the wild -- the offhand way in which he describes how many die in the process, and necessary killing of the mother to get to the cubs, etc.

All this being said, his writing itself is amazing. He is beautifully articulate and has an edge of humor that makes the book a very entertaining read as a whole.

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