Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Two Books exploring human relationships with animals

What I Don't Know about Animals by Jenny Diski is a fascinating investigation into the relationships humans have with animals. Jenny Diski starts from her own self admitted limited experience of animals to explore farming, meat eating vs vegetarianism, zoos, pets, conservation, animal experimentation, pest control and cultural representation of animals (from literature to cuddly toys).

In the course of researching the book, Diski spent time on a sheep farm in winter, learned to ride a pony and spent time hanging out with her cat (who features in the author photo). She also has done a lot of research into the historical relationships between humans and various animals and the wider natural environment. The result is a wide-ranging, thought provoking book that is part memoir, part philosophy and part travelogue.

Ultimately animals are, to a large extent, unknowable to us, as their modes of living and experiencing the world are so different from ours. This book will give you lots to think about, even if you think you know a lot about animals.

What I Don't Know about Animals by Jenny Diski published by Virago

Henry Nicholls fucoses on just one species of animal in The Way of the Panda. This book explores the fascinating natural history of the panda and also how it has been used by humans.

The Chinese have used pandas as diplomatic tools for years,including recently loaning two pandas to Edinburgh Zoo. At the same time, the country has set up a network of panda reserves and breeding centres to help to preserve the animal in the wild and to ensure a good captive population to support the wild population.

The panda has long been used as the symbol for the World Wide Fund for Nature and has become a poster species for animal conservation in general.

The book explores all aspects of our relationship with this well known yet still mysterious black and white bear and considers what the future might hold for it.

The Way of the Panda by Henry Nicholls published by Profile Books.

This book is an ideal companion to Panda : Back from the Brink published by Saraband Books, which I reviewed here

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

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