I really enjoyed this book. Much like Jane Goodall, Sonja Yoerg writes in a way that both inspires confidence in the author’s knowledge and creates a world of imagery for the reader to immerse themselves in. This book is reader friendly in that you don’t have to be an animal behaviorist to enjoy, appreciate and understand the subject matter. That said, you will most likely learn something while reading this book. It entails a certain amount of effort. If you’re looking for a story to entertain you while you’ve got one eye on the kids and the other on a pitcher of margaritas, you should probably opt for a fictional beach read and save this book for another day.
This book is written to make you think. It doesn’t just discuss animal behaviors and their varying degrees of intelligence. It educates the reader on how intelligence tests are created, the history of methods used by different sects of behaviorists, the inherent flaws of each method – basically this book will challenge your very definition of the concept of intelligence. It made me think of my perceptions of the members of the animal kingdom in an entirely new way. It even made me consider that (gasp!) my Jack Russell might not be quite the genius I thought her to be. (But then she made it quite clear – she is indeed a genius – an evil genius 😉
Joking aside, this book has made a huge impact in the way I think about not just animal intelligence, but also animal equality. As the author suggests, perhaps the Great Chain of Being is wrong. Perhaps an animal is not more intelligent (or worthy) simply because they are considered to have more human-like qualities than another creature. And when you start to consider the impact (or lack thereof) of intelligence on survival? Wow. I will be enjoying the information I learned from having read this book (and the private mental debates stemming from this new info) for a long time to come!