How Animals Grieve

How Animals Grieve book cover

How Animals Grieve

Book review by Kristy Webster
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

"We must look at animals' actions with fresh eyes and thoughts unconstrained by expectations." --Barbara King

How Animals Grieve; Barbara King (University of Chicago Press, 2013).  With her down to earth analysis and presentation of scientific observation, Barbara King brings us a fervently researched and documented immersion into the enlightening, wide scope of grief in the animal kingdom. From cats to elephants, baboons and apes to goats and horses, the accounts of grieving among animal families are touching, sometimes baffling, but always astoundingly revelatory.

So why should we study animal grief? It is imperative that we understand the depths of the interpersonal, family and inter-species relationships of animals in the wild and in captivity, not only to satisfy our own scientific curiosity but to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the emotional life of other species with whom we are fortunate enough to share this world.

With a clear headed approach, Barbara challenges her own assumptions, remaining skeptical but open minded to stories surrounding animal grief. She does not allow herself to project her own meanings on the experience of death among animals. Rather, she gathers proof and makes her assertions based on meticulous observation. Time and time again, evidence supports initial claims of animals grieving not only the loss of members of their own species, but that of other species and animal families, including the human family.

Aside from initiating my return to a vegetarian diet, this book's biggest accomplishment is revealing the dangerous arrogance present in so much of humanity through our dismissal and unbalanced subjugation of animal life.