The hidden genius of animals is revealed in these two new books

by |November 1, 2017

The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben
The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

Reviews by Ben Hunter

The Secret Life of Animals by Peter Wohllenen.Ben Hunter: We’ve all heard the stories – pods of dolphins with complex social hierarchies, elephants that mourn their dead. But what of animals a little closer to home? Two new books have arrived on our shelves to expose the hidden genius of animals you don’t have to pay to see in a zoo.

Peter Wohlleben manages an ecologically sustainable woodland in Germany where he spends a great deal of time among our feathered and fury counterparts. He was recently propelled onto the world stage with his incredible book, The Hidden Life of Trees, an examination of how trees communicate in an interconnected network, sending and receiving nutrients from one another in family groups.

In his new book, The Inner Life of Animals, Wohlleben sheds light on the animal kingdom with dozens of stories of the creatures that inhabit his world – ravens, pigs, fauns, squirrels and more. He demonstrates the ways in which animals communicate, experience emotion, dream and think creatively. This, it seems, happens right across the animal kingdom. It’s not just large long-lived mammals like whales and elephants that feel complex emotions and it’s not just apex predators like lions or bears that come up with ingenious solutions in order to find sustenance. Wohlleben will introduce you to pigs that learn their own names and hedgehogs who have nightmares and he’ll teach you why you should never try to rescue a baby deer that’s been left behind by it’s mother.

But what of cows?

The Secret Life of CowsThe Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young. is one of my new favourite books. It came about when author Rosamund Young and family took a particularly organic approach to raising cattle on their farm in Gloucestershire. They named their cows as individuals and allowed them as much or as little human interaction as they wanted. The cows were given free rein over their many acres to graze when, where and with whom they liked.

Just how these VIP cows chose to go about their relatively free lives astonished Young and her whole community. She quickly learned that within her cohort of bovines was a complex group of individuals with their own unique preferences and relationships with one another. In her affectionately told collection of stories you’ll meet Fat Hat, Gemima, Chippy Minton and more. You’ll learn of their rivalries, their bad habits and their finest moments and see you’ll how cows play, form bonds and are affected by tragedy.

Not only will you find out a whole lot of stuff on cows, you might learn a thing or two about humans as well and for that this book’s worth its weight in gold.


About the Reviewer

Ben Hunter works at Booktopia as a web merchandiser and lives in Sydney’s Inner West. When he’s not reading or creating collections and emails for Booktopia, you’ll find him playing frisbee, eating pastries or watching Meg Ryan movies with his mum. He’s an avid recycler and a poor speller. He sometimes tweets @itsbenhunter.

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About the Contributor

Tanaya has been a lover of books for as long as she can remember. Now, her book collection is a little out of control, mostly consisting of YA fiction and pretty hardcovers. When she’s not reading, she spends a lot of her time taking photos of books for her bookstagram account, @prettypagesblog. She also has a love of Disneyland, bullet journaling and cats.

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