Book Review: The Inner Life of Animals

The Inner Life of Animals • Love, Grief, and Compassion –Surprising Observations of a Hidden World
Peter Wohlleben / Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson / Translated by Jane Billinghurst

272 pages • ISBN 978-1-77164-302-3

Are you one of those who think that animals can feel love, empathy, gratitude, fear, and compassion? Rather, do you think that animals are there for our fun and services without any awareness concerning the world that surrounds them?

If you are on this side, Wohlleben’s knowledge and perspective will help you to build a better understanding of animals and their emotional world. But not only their emotional side since animals can also perform complex tasks involving awareness of their surroundings which presupposes a certain type of intelligence.

But, if you love animals and are intrigued to understand their different and inexplicable behaviors, this book is also perfect for you. Wohllebe divides his book into a series of chapters focusing on a different emotional state of animals and how those states are related directly to us.

He argues that animals have some humanlike qualities, regardless their shapes and sizes, experience unconscious brain activity directly related to how the animal interacts with the world. Every species of animal can think and feel even much beautiful than any human being.

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world alongside Peter Wohlleben’s personal experiences in forests and fields.

With a careful, expert and knowledgeable position, both in theory and in practice, the author suggests that animals are similar to people in the way they interact with other animals, of the same or different species. Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

The Inner Life of Animals is also written for those skeptical people with a more scientific tinge. When it comes to our relationship with animals, it is impossible to have the same experiences and interpretations. The richness of analyzing and understanding the behavior of animals and their emotional world comes from the diversity of explanations and the different academic and personal positions that can be found.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze –and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.

By reading this book, readers are more aware of the treatment they give to the animals that surround them, both in the city and in the lands, and the mistreatment they are subjected to every day in any part of the world. Eating your meat, for example, is a form of mistreatment and lack of awareness.

Peter Wohlleben is the author of New York Times bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees.  He is a natural storyteller who writes on ecological themes. He manages a municipally owned, environmentally friendly woodland in Germany. When he is not writing books or caring for his trees, he looks after the family dog and his small collection of farm animals.

For its part, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestsellers When Elephants Weep and Dog Never Lie About Love. He is fascinated by the richness of the emotional world of animals and by what animals can teach us about ourselves.