In wildlife conservation work, rewilding – to make wild once again – refers to the creation of corridors between preserved lands that allow declining populations to rebound. Marc Bekoff, one of our most engaging animal experts and activists, here applies the concept to human attitudes. He argues that unless we rewild ourselves, becoming profoundly reconnected to nature and fundamentally shifting our consciousness, our conservation efforts will have but limited impact. Bekoff shows that when we make the effort to not just see, but to empathetically become "the seen," our perspective on animals and their habitats changes in profound ways. As we shift to acting from the inside out, our efforts move beyond simply reacting to current crises and become powerfully proactive. Ultimately, Rewilding Our Hearts invites readers to become re-enchanted with our world, and by dissolving false boundaries, to truly connect with both nature and ourselves.
Marc Bekoff is professor of biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of many books, including Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions and Heart, and is a former Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. Bekoff is also regional coordinator for Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program, which promotes environmental awareness and community involvement of young people, senior citizens, and prisoners in over seventy countries through education and hands-on activities.
"This inspiring book is impossible to put down. Page after page bristles with stories, examples, challenges [...] Like other great sages [Bekoff] offers hope and encouragement to take small steps; it is tiny acts of compassion that count and bring a deep joy to those who live out rewilding."
– Celia Deane-Drummond, professor of theology, University of Notre Dame
"A practical way for people to reconnect with natural landscapes and animals through understanding and compassion."
– Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, United Nations Messenger of Peace
"I wish the ideas of Rewilding Our Hearts would become an integral part of all scientific conferences, university conservation courses, animal shows on TV, children's books, etc."
– George Schaller, PhD, wildlife biologist and vice-president of Panthera
"Marc Bekoff is one of the leading compassionate reformers of our time [...] This is a book for anyone who is interested in nurturing themselves and healing our alienated relationships with each other, other animals, and the beautiful planet we all call home."
– Lori Gruen, PhD, professor of environmental studies, Wesleyan University
"Dr. Marc Bekoff's latest work of art – of compassion in action – is a deeply philosophical, extraordinarily accessible, and powerfully composed message for our times [...] A simply brilliant work!"
– Michael Charles Tobias, president, Dancing Star Foundation
"Marc Bekoff is a leading voice in the effort to ignite a rewilding social movement grounded in love, compassion, and the recognition that we are inhabitants of a magnificent planet that is calling us home."
– Eileen Crist, coeditor of Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth
"Rewilding is a trendy term for the revival of an ancient concept: showing respect for the natural world, including the other animals sharing it. Bekoff [...] reminds us that in a sense we remain great apes and cannot operate outside nature and emphasizes that while humanity may be the dominant species, it is not the most important ecologically. [...] Verdict: Bekoff's perspective is far from the North American norm, but his arguments are strong. Readers may find themselves agreeing with some of the author's points and may even do some soul searching about our treatment of animals."
– Library Journal
"In this wise and passionate book, Marc Bekoff brings a lifetime of scientific research and deep personal reflection to bear on our deepening environmental crisis. In his characteristically insightful and engaging style, Bekoff advocates for compassion as the basis of new understandings of ourselves and prompts us to reimagine the kinds of relationships that we might yet have with the rest of our living world. Rewilding Our Hearts is a tragically honest and yet powerfully uplifting response to the challenges of our time."
– Thom van Dooren, environmental philosopher, University of New South Wales, Australia, and author of Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction
"As one has come to expect from Marc Bekoff, this is a wonderful book of scientific stories about animal minds, consciousness, and emotion. But Rewilding Our Hearts goes beyond this, showing how wildness in nature, animals, and our hearts are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. This book will bring a new audience to Bekoff's work."
– Dale Jamieson, director of the Animal Studies Initiative and professor of environmental studies and philosophy, New York University
"This is a book to make us all think. Drawing as only he can from a wide range of scientific research and personal experience, Marc Bekoff argues that we need to rethink our relationship to animals. Rewilding Our Hearts asks humans to give up a little control, act with a little humility, and recognize the connections we have to the rest of nature. Bekoff's examples and illustrations remind us that sharing our planet with other species is a source of resilience as well as delight and that caring for the natural world is essential for human well-being."
– Susan Clayton, PhD, Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology and chair of environmental studies at the College of Wooster
"Sadly, most of our relations with other animals are dominionistic – transactions between masters and slaves. In Rewilding Our Hearts Marc Bekoff argues persuasively that such top-down interactions are bad for creatures, bad for nature, and bad for humans. The key, Bekoff asserts, is to rewild ourselves and to respect the individuality of other beings and their homes. When we are unkind to individual creatures, we demean them and hobble our own moral development. Being the most powerful creature, he concludes, does not give us the license to ruin a spectacularly beautiful planet, its wondrous webs of nature, and its magnificent nonhuman residents. Who could disagree with that?"
– Michael Soulé, research professor emeritus in environmental studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, and coeditor of Conservation Biology: An Evolutionary-Ecological Perspective
"Rewilding Our Hearts is about healing – healing our self-destructive attitudes toward the Earth by adopting a more compassionate and ethical treatment of animals [...] Read Rewilding Our Hearts and you will whoop, smile, and definitely gain a new respect for all life, including your fellow travelers on the planet."
– George Wuerthner, ecological projects director, Foundation for Deep Ecology
"Marc Bekoff has been a great pioneer in the scientific study of animal emotion. Now, in Rewilding Our Hearts, Bekoff beautifully and simply articulates a philosophical attitude to guide us in the restoration of nature, which has suffered so terribly from human assaults upon it. What's more, Bekoff shows how a new attitude toward nature can help us develop compassion and humility in our own lives. Bekoff's message offers hope for genuine healing, of both our natural environment and ourselves."
– William Crain, professor of psychology, City College of New York, and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Children: Insights from a Farm Sanctuary
"Marc Bekoff writes about how to harness compassion in a frantic world full of concrete and steel, neon and commerce; a world in which nature is crumbling around us. Finding this book is like finding a pot of glue with which we can fill the hole in our hearts and the ozone."
– Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
"Calling for a reawakened caring for nature and animals that is both passionate and informed, Rewilding Our Hearts provides the healthy challenge we need in today's critical and confusing times. And Marc Bekoff – mountain man and noted academic – is the right man for this job. A lively, inspiring, and unsettling book that helps us reconnect with our inner wisdom and remember the deeper truths about our shared life on this fragile Earth."
– Will Tuttle, PhD, author of the bestselling book The World Peace Diet, recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award, and cofounder of Circle of Compassion
"This book is a reminder that all living things are our family, and we cannot live a spiritually rich and happy life unless we acknowledge and act on our connections. Marc Bekoff suggests compassionate and practical actions, small and large, that we can take to repair our bond with all other species."
– Louise Chawla, professor, environmental design program, University of Colorado, Boulder