Friday, December 24, 2021

On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals by Susan Orlean is a solid book by the author of The Library Book, The Orchid Thief, and Rin Tin Tin among other nonfiction works. On Animals features various animal stories, with Orlean both as a third-party observer and first-party participant, and she notes "all of these creatures serve a purpose, even if that purpose is to have no real purpose other than to give a warm, wonderful, unpredictable texture to my life every day." 

Orlean provides compelling writing on both domesticated and wild or working animals, with some of the chapters that stood out noted below:

The It Bird - on raising chickens and how popular it's become

The Lady and the Tigers - including how there's more tigers in captivity than the wild

Little Wing - on homing pigeons and both that it's unclear how they navigate their way home, and if their owners move, they'll fly back to their original home if not enclosed

Where's Willy? - about Keiko, the orca star of the movie Free Willy, and the effort to release him to the wild, something never previously done with a captive killer whale

Lion Whisperer - about Kevin Richardson and his lions, also covers how little of the African wild is actually wild and the horror of lion hunting and negative effects of lion cub petting businesses

The Perfect Beast - on pandas and how unique they are

Lost dog - on the story of one couple's effort to find theirs

Farmville - on Orlean's life with animals and her moving from the New York countryside to Los Angeles