Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition

Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition


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Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition by Benjamin Kilham

InOut on a Limb, Ben Kilham invites us into the world he has come to know best: the world of black bears.

For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in a vast tract of Northern New Hampshire woodlands. At times, he has also taken in orphaned infants—feeding them, walking them through the forest for months to help them decipher their natural world, and eventually reintroducing them back into the wild. Once free, the orphaned bears still regard him as their mother. And one of these bears, now a 17-year-old female, has given him extraordinary access to her daily life, opening a rare window into how she and the wild bears she lives among carry out their daily lives, raise their young, and communicate.

Witnessing this world has led to some remarkable discoveries. For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary. Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other. They form friendships and alliances; abide by a code of conduct that keeps their world orderly; and when their own food supplies are ample, they even help out other bears in need.

Could these cooperative behaviors, he asks, mimic behavior that existed in the animal that became human? In watching bears, do we see our earliest forms of communications unfold?

Kilham's dyslexia once barred him from getting an advanced academic degree, securing funding for his research, and publishing his observations in the scientific literature. After being shunned by the traditional scientific community, though, Kilham’s unique findings now interest bear researchers worldwide. His techniques even aid scientists working with pandas in China and bears in Russia.

Moreover, the observation skills that fueled Kilham’s exceptional work turned out to be born of his dyslexia. His ability to think in pictures and decipher systems makes him a unique interpreter of the bear's world.

Out on a Limbdelivers Kilham’s fascinating glimpse at the inner world of bears, and also makes a passionate case for science, and education in general, to open its doors to different ways of learning and researching—doors that could lead to far broader realms of discovery.

Kilham and his work have been featured in five internationally televised documentaries. In addition to being on over forty nationally broadcast radio shows including National Public Radio, he has appeared onThe Today Show,Good Morning America,ABC Nightly News,The David Letterman Show, and more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603583909
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2013
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ben Kilham has been researching and living with black bears for nearly twenty years. He has become an expert in black bear behavior, as well as in rehabilitating orphaned and injured bears and reintroducing them to the wild. He is invited to lecture all over the United States and internationally. His previous book is Among the Bears, Raising Orphan Cubs in the Wild Kilham and his work with black bears have been featured in five internationally televised documentaries, including National Geographic and Discovery Channel features, and he has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, ABC Nightly News International, The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News Daytime Edition, Inside Edition, The David Letterman Show, NBC Nightline, CBS Coast to Coast, Canadian Broadcasting Company Nightly News, and various other shows, as well as National Public Radio, and a host of nationally broadcast radio shows. He lives in Lyme, New Hampshire.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

1 Walking with Cubs 1

2 Squirty's World 13

3 Bear Society: Beginning to See the Forest through the Trees 31

4 The Language of Bears 49

5 The Social Code of Bears: Justice and Punishment 77

6 Cognition: What Bears Know 95

7 What Bears Can Teach Us about Our Own Past, Present, and Future 121

8 From Black Bears to Giant Pandas 147

Appendix: The Human-Bear Conflict: How to Understand Black Bear Behavior and Avoid Problems 163

Index 179

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Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MatthewK17815 More than 1 year ago
In some ways this book almost seemed like two different books. I really was fascinated by the observations about black bears and their amazing ways of communication, empathy, working together, punishment and forgiveness. Really amazing stuff and it has very much changed my views of these animals and built my respect for them so much more. In the second half of the book the author attempts to compare these various behaviors of bears to early man and postulated that man's behaviors have developed not from chimpanzees but from this more "bearlike" behavioral pattern. It is a very interesting notion and the evidence provided by the author is solid, but I was not expecting the book to go in this direction and found myself longing for more insights into black bear behavior and cognition. The author did write another book which I have a copy of; possibly I will get my wish for more bear information in that. Well worth the read though and recommended.