The Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke

The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of WildlifeThe Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife by Lucy Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author is a zoologist and naturalist, but perhaps is better known for her television work on comedy and nature shows. That might explain why this book, which I had thought was a scientific treatment of unusual or little-known animal facts, turned out to be enormously amusing. Certainly her frequent treatment of the sex lives of the featured animals added some spice, but her sardonic wit was evident throughout. I suspect she could make the history of linoleum hilarious. Don’t mistake this for a dismissal of the book as frivolous, for it is very well documented and scientifically sound, at least so far as I can determine. I learned a lot and laughed a lot. It’s difficult to give much higher praise.

I cannot resist one smidgen of constructive criticism (a phrase that strikes fear or loathing into the heart of any author): she spends too much time debunking myths that were debunked decades ago, or even centuries ago. In other words, she tells us some of the ridiculous things people used to write or believe about various animals and then explains when and by whom those ideas were corrected. That really isn’t anything about the animals but merely illustrative of how bad “science” used to be. That’s a tad out of the description of the title, but the author was able to find a lot of humor there as well.

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