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By: Chilla Bulbeck
312 pages, Illus, tabs
The first serious empirical examination of why people seek out animals in their natural environment, what the desire for this experience tells us about the meanings of animals, nature, authenticity and wilderness in contemporary industrialized societies, and whether visitors change their environmental perspectives and behaviour, as the custodians of parks would like them to.
The main body of this survey of attitudes toward animals consists of information the author systematically gathered through surveys from visitors to zoos, reserves, and wildlife tourism destinations in and around Australia. Women's studies professor Bulbeck (Univ. of Adelaide) found a wide variety of views, most of them, given the context, favorable toward animals. Ideas of animals and human-animal relationships ranged from the 'cute and cuddly' to the heroic (people in wilderness) to materialist (meat). People loved dolphins and pitied disappearing marsupials. Bulbeck grounds the book in recent philosophy, especially feminism and ecofeminism, thus bringing in a much wider and deeper range of views. She recounts debates on the 'authenticity, ' 'naturalness, ' and emotional impact of animal experiences but does not include much biological grounding; this is a book of ideas, not zoology. Bulbeck concludes that humans have to take care of the Earth, now clearly bent to human use and under full human management essentially everywhere; however, she refrains from taking sides or spell out narrow agendas. Useful to anyone interested in seeing the range of viewpoints; oriented to professionals, but accessible to general readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries.--E. N. Anderson, University of California, Riverside in CHOICE
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