Every day we are learning new and surprising facts about just how intelligent and emotional animals are – did you know rats like to play and laugh, and also display empathy, and the ears and noses of cows tell us how they're feeling? At times, we humans translate that knowledge into compassion for other animals; think of the public outcry against the fates of Cecil the lion or the captive gorilla Harambe. But on the whole, our growing understanding of what animals feel is not resulting in more respectful treatment of them.
Renowned animal-behaviour expert Marc Bekoff and leading bioethicist Jessica Pierce explore the real-world experiences of five categories of animals, beginning with those who suffer the greatest deprivations of freedoms and choice – chickens, pigs, and cows in industrial food systems – as well as animals used in testing and research, including mice, rats, cats, dogs, and chimpanzees. Next, Bekoff and Pierce consider animals for whom losses of freedoms are more ambiguous and controversial, namely, individuals held in zoos and aquaria and those kept as companions. Finally, they reveal the unexpected ways in which the freedoms of animals in the wild are constrained by human activities and argue for a more compassionate approach to conservation.
In each case, scientific studies combine with stories of individual animals to bring readers face-to-face with the wonder of our fellow beings, as well as the suffering they endure and the major paradigm shift that is needed to truly ensure their well-being.
The Animals' Agenda will educate and inspire people to rethink how we affect other animals, and how we can evolve toward more peaceful and less violent ways of interacting with our animal kin in an increasingly human-dominated world.
Marc Bekoff has published thirty books, including The Emotional Lives of Animals. He is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a former Guggenheim fellow. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Jessica Pierce, author of Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets, is faculty affiliate at the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. She lives in Lyons, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a cat.
"Bekoff and Pierce want to create a shift in the human-animal relationship, and those that are ready to do so will want to read this book."
– Library Journal
"Through meticulous research and with a rational and reasoned approach, prolific animal rights advocate Bekoff (Rewilding Our Hearts, 2014) and colleague Pierce advocate for violence-free, more compassionate, and harmonious relations between humans and animals in all situations."
"The call for a science of animal well-being is not only much needed but also long overdue."
– Kim Stallwood, author, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate
"My eyes have been opened as never before, and if we long, as I hope we do, for a more balanced and kinder world, welcome this book, as I do, with open arms, minds, and heart."
– Virginia McKenna, Founder and Trustee, The Born Free Foundation
"An increasing number of compassionate people care deeply about animals. But there are not yet enough of us. We need to change the way the world is run, so that all creatures can enjoy their lives and bring up their offspring without interference. Education is the key; that's why everyone should read The Animals' Agenda. This book will change hearts and minds."
– Brian May, CBE, founding member of Queen and founder of the Save Me Trust
"Bekoff and Pierce are informed, concerned, and provocative thinkers. Their information is solid; their plea is ethical. If you're not there with them when you open the book, their research and logic will give you a lot to think about. If you are already in philosophical agreement, your arguments will be more informed than ever by their richly built book."
– Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
"The Animals' Agenda is a bold and important book that everyone should read, argue over, and think about deeply. Not only does this book expose the obscene abuses of factory farms and lab animals, but it tackles deeper, harder, more complex questions as well. Should humans eat animals at all? Do we have the right to confine animals in zoos or aquariums? Is it morally defensible to let our cats roam free, where they will kill native wildlife, or to frustrate their hunting drive by restricting their freedom? People who love animals may come to different conclusions – but these are questions we should be discussing and debating if ever we are to evolve past the human-centered Anthropocene. The Animals' Agenda brings us closer to the day when our behavior toward our fellow species is determined not by convenience or greed but by compassion."
– Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus and The Good Good Pig
"This wonderful and inspiring book reminds us in particular that we should treat wild animals as our co-citizens on this planet and treat them with respect and protect their natural environment. A must-read by anyone who aspires to morality and justice."
– Matthieu Ricard, author of A Plea for the Animals
"Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce remind us of our unique place in the diverse orchestra of life and of our moral responsibilities to other animals. Human kindness is vital for individuals of other species to survive and to thrive, and vital for our own survival in a challenging and ever-changing world."
– Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of PETA
"This book is at the forefront of our evolving understanding, in science and ethics, of what we must do to protect animals in an increasingly human-dominated world."
– Dale Peterson, author of The Moral Lives of Animals and Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man
"The Animals' Agenda upends the ways we grow up treating and demeaning nonhuman animals and their habitats. The well-documented style makes us want 'to think anew and act anew,' to use Abraham Lincoln's immortal words. Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce make you ponder and extend your own mind and sense of wonder about what the natural world means to us so we can in turn act more sensibly and kindly toward that sine qua non for human existence. The Animals' Agenda is a heartening book for all ages."
– Ralph Nader, author of Animal Envy: A Fable
"Thoroughly grounded in the history of animal protection, Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce have written a manifesto for a science of animal wellbeing, clearly distinguishing it from the science of animal welfare and articulating a vision for how this new science may inform a world in which humans live in community with their fellow creature."
– Dale Jamieson, New York University, professor of environmental studies and philosophy, author of Reason in a Dark Time and coauthor of Love in the Anthropocene
"The things we're learning about animals have moral implications and, as they should, are triggering much-needed changes in human behavior. The translation of human knowledge and understanding into better outcomes for animals couldn't come fast enough, and The Animals' Agenda will greatly accelerate the process."
– Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, The Humane Society of the United States, and author of The Humane Economy