224 pages, colour photos
Nature documentaries often depict animal life as a grim struggle for survival, but this visually stunning book opens our eyes to a different, more scientifically up-to-date way of looking at the animal kingdom. In more than one hundred striking images, The Exultant Ark celebrates the full range of animal experience with dramatic portraits of animal pleasure ranging from the charismatic and familiar to the obscure and bizarre. These photographs, windows onto the inner lives of pleasure seekers, show two polar bears engaged in a bout of wrestling, hoary marmots taking time for a game of chase, Japanese macaques enjoying a soak in a hot spring, a young bull elk sticking out his tongue to catch snowflakes, and many other amusements.
Biologist and best-selling author Jonathan Balcombe is our guide through the images, interpreting them within the scientific context of what is known about animal behavior. In the end, old attitudes fall away as we gain a heightened sense of animal individuality and sentience, and of the pleasures of life on planet Earth.
"An exuberant look at animal pleasure."
– New York Times
"An irresistible new photo book."
– New York Post
"Intersperses glorious images of animals preening, grooming and gallivanting with snippets of studies suggesting such behaviours belie an overly utilitarian interpretation."
– New Scientist
"Here is a book to put a spring into anyone's step. The Exultant Ark is a celebration of animal behaviour at its most uplifting."
– BBC Wildlife Magazine
"This visually stunning book opens our eyes to a different, more scientifically up-to-date way of looking at the animal kingdom [...] Old attitudes fall away as we gain a heightened sense of animal individuality and of the pleasures that make life worth living for all sentient beings."
– The Guardian / Birdbooker Report Blog
4 Courtship and Sex
8 Other Pleasures
Conclusion: Implications of Animal Pleasure
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Jonathan Balcombe is formerly Senior Research Scientist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. His books include Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals and Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good.