The Parrot's Lament

The Parrot's Lament

And Other True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity

Paperback - 1999
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Award-winning environmentalist and nature writer Eugene Linden offers a compelling case as he documents true stories from the next great frontier: the exploration of animal consciousness. That animals think, "talk," and feel has long been denied by the general scientific establishment. Yet zoo keepers, field biologists, and even pet owners everywhere know differently. More than two hundred separate anecdotes show how our furry and feathered next of kin experience and engage in strategy, deception, game-playing, humor, heroism, love, compassion, and even grief. Highly readable, this is a must-have volume for any animal lover.
Publisher: New York : Dutton, 1999.
ISBN: 9780525944768
Branch Call Number: 591.5/LIND
Characteristics: 204p. 23cm.


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Dec 27, 2016

Very readable, and interesting, animal stories.

Feb 28, 2016

This gets half 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 anecdotes were seriously great.


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Aug 28, 2010

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 controlled settings so lack the ingenuity even if they offer corroborative evidence of cognitive analysis in solving situational problems by animals.
The anecdotes are gathered across a wide spectrum from zoo keepers, pet owners, game preserve employees, and primate researchers and covers a range of animals from the titular parrot to various apes, cats, horses and a captive orca pair. The obvious is that animals recognize themselves and others and form patterns of relationships that require intent to perform the actions we read about. Linden leaves the reader to form their own opinion at first because this is just anecdotal hearsay. Only at the end, with experimental evidence, are the cognitive functions explored and analysed in detail.
This book was not about proselytizing a view point but rather offering qualified observational evidence followed by a sampling of simple experimental settings in order to provoke awareness of what intellect is, whether in animal or in human form


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