Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel

176p. bibliog. index. photos. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250144638.
RedReviewStarGr 4–9—In this young readers adaptation of the author's 2015 book, Safina contemplates the inner life of the largest land mammal, the elephant, and the largest dolphin, the orca. He writes of his travels to Kenya to observe elephants and interview scientists and conservationists who study them and attempt to protect them. After an interlude connecting the two species, he relates his travels to the Pacific Northwest, where he spent time with Ken Balcomb, who for 40 years has studied orcas. In beautiful, accessible, often heartbreakingly poignant prose, the author explains how many have proven, anecdotally and scientifically, that animals exhibit complex emotions and thought processes. Both elephants and orcas have strong and complicated family bonds and experience joy and grief. Safina also hammers home the real threat that the animals, especially elephants, face—poachers and habitat loss for elephants and food source loss for orcas. This well-researched volume contains many black-and-white photos, 10 pages of source notes, and a thorough bibliography.
VERDICT This excellent, documentary-style account will captivate budding animal behavioral scientists.

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