How Animals Grieve

By Barbara J. King
(University Of Chicago Press, Hardcover, 9780226436944, 208pp.)

Publication Date: May 2013

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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For years, we have assumed that among the most fundamental lines between humans and other animals is the way we respond to death.  But with videos of scrub jay funerals, accounts of elephant mourning, and baboon's carrying their dead, the science of animal grief has opened the proverbial floodgates.  And there is no better guide to the kingdom of animal grief and mourning than Barbara King.  In this book she takes us to the Serengeti, to duck farms, and sanctuaries, and into the homes and hearts of those who have watched their pets mourn loss.  The stories and science she shares range from chimpanzees to sea turtles, to horses and dogs, and her compassion and curiosity bring to life a range of emotions, in the animals and in those who will read this book. The human experience of grief may still be unique, but this book shows that around loss lies yet another connection between us and the living world around us.

About the Author

Barbara J. King is professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary. She is the author or editor of many books, including Being with Animals. She blogs regularly for National Public Radio and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement.

Praise For How Animals Grieve

"A beautifully written book that will appeal to animal lovers."

“Barbara J. King has pulled together anecdotal and scientific data on grief and love in animals in her excellent book How Animals Grieve. With her engaging story telling she opens up our eyes to the possible inner lives of some surprising species. We expect big-brained chimpanzees and elephants to express their feelings, but her tales of rabbits, goats, birds, turtles and others force us to look again at the emotional content of animal lives.”
-Cynthia Moss, author of Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Ele

“Poignant, thoughtful, and sometimes heartbreaking. King once again elevates the discussion of animal emotion. She tackles a tricky subject with a scientist's care and an animal lover's grace.”

-Jennifer Holland, author of Unlikely Friendships

"I must admit that I was skeptical that an entire book could be written on the subject of animal grief, because the scientific literature in this area is so painfully thin. But Barbara King has succeeded beautifully. She has collected an incredible database of stories about various kinds of animals, and taken together they offer more than enough substance to sustain this book. It is as if she has created a mosaic for her reader. She has collected bits and pieces--individual stories about one animal or another--which by themselves might be little but trifles. But King pastes them together with masterful skill, and the result is a compelling picture of animal grief. We get the feeling that there are still a lot of blank spaces on the canvas, as our scientific understanding is far from complete, but it is only a matter of time before these spaces will begin to fill in. How Animals Grieve is a fascinating book which will interest and inform animal lovers and scientists alike."
-Jessica Pierce, author of The Last Walk

"In this deeply moving and beautifully composed treatise that is sure to anger some, but inspire many, Barbara King methodically presents her powerful evidence that many animals possess thoughts, feelings and emotions, including the profound sense of loss following the death of a family member or close companion. Consider, for example, the female dolphin who carries her dead calf for several days, loath to part with her beloved child. What else is she doing but grieving? It might be a controversial, minority viewpoint that some animals mourn the death of others, but King's profound and well-documented work has left me firmly in her camp."
-David Kirby, author of Death at Sea World

"Humans and other animals experience love and fear, and form deep emotional bonds with cherished companions. We mourn when a close friend dies, and so do other animals, as Barbara King's poignant book illustrates in compelling detail. How Animals Grieve helps us to connect and to better understand the complex social lives of other animals and of ourselves."
-Gene Baur, president and cofounder of Farm Sanctuary

"Let me begin by saying I recommend this book to anyone who doubts that animals grieve. The evidence presented is overwhelming."

"How Animals Grieve is not the definitive work on animal grief, but rather a stepping-stone to further investigation, observation and understanding. King hopes others will continue to look with fresh eyes, expand our knowledge and better understand all animals."

"Admirably, carefully, and cautiously reviews and synthesizes a topic that is of great interest to numerous people, including those who are fortunate enough to live with nonhuman companions, those who are lucky enough to study them, and those who are interested in other animals for a wide variety of reasons."
-Marc Bekoff

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