As people come to understand more about animals’ inner lives—the intricacies of their thoughts and the emotions that are expressed every day by whales and cows, octopus and mice, even bees—we feel a growing compassion, a desire to better their lives. But how do we translate this compassion into helping other creatures, both those that are and are not our pets? Bringing together the latest science with heartfelt storytelling, Animals’ Best Friends reveals the opportunities we have in everyday life to help animals in our homes, in the wild, in zoos, and in science labs, as well as those considered to be food. Barbara J. King, an expert on animal cognition and emotion, guides us on a journey both animal and deeply human.. Throughout this journey, King makes no claims of personal perfection. Though an animal expert, she is just like the rest of us: on a journey still, learning each day how to be better, and do better, for animals. But as Animals’ Best Friends makes clear, challenging choices can bring deep rewards. By turning compassion into action on behalf of animals, we not only improve animals’ lives—we also immeasurably enrich our own.
Barbara J. King is emerita professor of anthropology at William & Mary and a freelance science writer and public speaker. The author of seven books, including the new Animals’ Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and in the Wild, Barbara focuses on animal emotion and cognition, the ethics of our relationships with animals, and the evolutionary history of language, culture, and religion. Her book How Animals Grieve has been translated into 7 languages and her TED talk on animal love and grief has now received over 3 million views. Barbara is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient who work has appeared in Scientific American, NPR, Aeon, and Undark, and she regularly reviews books for NPR, the Washington Post, and the TLS. Barbara enjoys science outreach at events like the World Science Festival and the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange “science speed dating” night, and through online discussions with groups interested in topics ranging from compassion for animals to ecological grief. In Virginia, she lives with her husband and rescued cats. She tweets about animals, science, and books @bjkingape.