In What Do Animals Think and Feel?, the biologist Karsten Brensing has something astonishing to tell us about the animal kingdom: namely that animals, by any reasonable assessment, have developed the sophisticated systems of social organization and behaviour that human beings call 'culture'. Dolphins call one another by name and orcas inhabit a culture that is over 700,000 years old. Chimpanzees wage strategic warfare, while bonobos delight in dirty talk. Ravens enjoy snowboarding on snow-covered roofs, and snails like to spin on hamster exercise wheels. Humped-back whales follow the dictates of fashion and rats are dedicated party animals. Ants recognize themselves in mirrors and spruce themselves up before they return home. Ducklings can pass complicated tests in abstract thinking. Dogs punish disloyalty, though they are also capable of forgiveness if you apologize to them. Brensing draws on the latest scientific findings as well as his own experience working with animals, to reveal a world of behavioural and cognitive sophistication that is remarkably similar to our own.
First published in German as Das Mysterium der Tiere in 2017 by Aufbau Verlag.
Karsten Brensing is a German marine biologist, behavioural scientist and author who works as a scientific reviewer and author of popular science books on the welfare of animals, especially dolphins. He is married with two sons.
"A very exciting read"
– General-Anzeiger, Bonn
"Brensing is [...] an idealist, committed to the coexistence of humans and animals"
– Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
"Brensing shows impressively that there is no reason to deny animals an inner life of pain, fear, grief and joy"
– Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung