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The Parrot's Lament: And Other True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2001

    The Parrot's Lament

    The Parrot¿s Lament, by Eugene Linden, is the perfect book for anyone interested in animal behavior. It is 190 pages in length and was published by the Penguin Group in 1999. This book discusses animal behavior and tries to help explain why animals act the way they do. It explores the idea that animals have intelligence parallel to humans and higher levels of thinking. The author is trying to prove to us just how smart animals are. This book gives examples of compassion, egotism, jealousy, and love displayed by animals. Anyone who wants to know more about animal psychology should read this book. This book greatly relates to biology. It attempts to explain why animals do the things they do and uses a lot of anthropomorphism, where one gives human characteristics to animals. The Parrot¿s Lament gives anecdotes about animal behavior and helps explain how it relates to their survival. It gives a window into the mind of an animal. This book proves that animals have a higher level of thinking. My favorite story is that of a parrot who spots another bird outside in bad weather and asks it to come in and eat. The parrot must¿ve understood that the bird outside was not in good condition. It also gives examples of trickery: p.64 ¿Rob Shumaker remembers one female gorilla at the National Zoo who developed strong feelings about various keepers. She was loyal to those she liked, but very aggressive towards those she did not. On one occasion, she casually walked up to the wire mesh that separated her from one of the keepers she did not like. Using a come-hither gesture, she beckoned the man to come closer. When the keeper approached within range, she suddenly pulled out a stick she had hidden behind her back and tried to stab him.¿ Obviously, the gorilla would¿ve had to know who the keeper was, how to get him over to her, and how to hide the stick. It couldn¿t have happened all on pure luck. That act took skill and planning. There are many stories similar to these that prove animals have higher levels of thinking. I think this book is excellent proof that animals are extremely intelligent and capable of more than most humans think. I¿ve experienced incidents similar to many in the book, though on a smaller scale. For example, anytime my guinea pig Lulubelle wants attention, she will let out a high pitched squeak. I always assumed this was just because of her instincts. However, this book explores the idea she knows that by making a loud noise, someone will pay attention to her. This may be her own higher level of thinking, not just a natural response. While some may argue squeaking is Lulubelle¿s innate reaction to a want, The Parrot¿s Lament gives tangible examples of why animals¿ reactions are not all based on instinct. Like the examples I gave above, Lulubelle proves things aren¿t all about what nature gives us. This book has made me think of animals in different ways. Do animals think like humans? We may never know until we can communicate fully with animals, however this book gives substantial evidence they do. For all we know, animals are asking the same question about us. Julie Braker

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2001

    Laura B. Hour 04

    The Parrot¿s Lament, by Eugene Linden, is the perfect book choice for anyone interested in animal behavior. This book is 190 pages in length and was published in October, 1999 by Penguin Putnam Inc.. In a book written for young biology lovers to senior citizens, Linden¿s explorations try to explain why animals behave the way they do. Mentioned several places in the book was the possibility of animals having higher intelligence levels than humans. Any person who would be interested in such material should read the book, The Parrot¿s Lament. The Parrot¿s Lament:a tale of animal intrigue, intelligence, and ingenuity. A pig who saves a drowning kid, a gorilla trading a Frisbee for a grape. An orangutan who plays ¿Simon says¿ for cash, life-saving cats, or pigs with jobs. What are these animals thinking? What are they trying to do? In short:Can animals think as humans do? This is the basis for the book, The Parrot¿s Lament. It biologically describes animal behavior and relates it to their survival techniques. For instance, while in captivity animals will imitate procedures normally done in the wild. For example, the polar bears who pretended to capture seals, or the Timber Wolf who chased his goat friends just for the sake of feeling like a real wolf, minus the meal. Linden gathers anecdotes from zoo keepers, pet owners, primate researchers, and game preserve employees to create a book compiled of over a hundred stories. He suggests the range and depth of an animal¿s ability to plan, reason, invent and form relationships with unfamiliar and even traditionally hostile species. Linden doesn¿t try to be too scientific, but rather provides real life stories about animal behavior to let the reader decide for themselves how close animals are to humans, or vice versa. I can relate to some of the human and animal interactions displayed in the book because I have had numerous pets. Before I read this book I thought that when my dog, Candy barked, it was because she needed something. Therefore, I would ask her, ¿Do you have to go out?¿, ¿Bring me your toy. Do you want to play?¿. But now I realize that this might be her own higher level of thinking, not a natural response. The Parrot¿s Lament explores the fact that Candy might know that by barking, she will get attention, therefore, she barks at me. Linden gives reasonable evidence to show that not all of animal¿s reactions are based on natural instinct. I look at my dog differently now. Besides, how do I know what she thinks of me?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2000

    Absolutely wonderful!

    If you are an animal lover, this book is a must-read. This book is fantastic and definitely a page-turner.

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