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          Source: Economist    2021-05-13  我要投稿   論壇   Favorite  

          Books & arts 


          Book review 


          Interspecies relations 


          Creature discomforts 


          How to Love Animals. By Henry Mance.


          Cat videos are the definition of clickbait, dogs are prized for their companionable qualities, and the most popular cartoons feature bears, rabbits, ducks and pigs. But in an age when so many people profess to be animal-lovers, a remarkable number behave in ways that suggest the opposite — eating meat of dubious provenance or fish that suffocated on the decks of trawlers, controlling pets with chastening strictness and gawping at wretchedly constrained elephants in zoos. 


          As Henry Mance, a British journalist, observes, “animals have worse prospects in the very time that we have supposedly been looking out for them.” His lively first book argues for a profound reassessment of humans’ relationships with other species. It is a polemic framed as a personal quest. He takes a job at a slaughterhouse and graphically reports his efforts to rip the wool off freshly killed sheep. He learns to fish, goes on a fruitless deer hunt and visits a lab where drugs are tested on mice and frogs. He observes at close quarters the effects of both deforestation and re-wilding; he attends a Californian dog-fanciers’ convention where corgis are dressed as sharks while their owners dress as corgis. 


          Some of Mr Mance’s conclusions are unsurprising. Covid-19 has been a sharp education in the cost of disrupting ecosystems. Animals widely regarded as expendable, such as wolves, turn out to play vital roles in keeping other species in check. Though as a child the author adored zoos, marvelling at the tigers and pandas, he now has misgivings about these “soulless, motionless” places, which strike him as “the conservation equivalent of a police line-up”. He is an advocate of veganism, but worries that it may be a “niche pursuit” and “a sign of society fragmenting, rather than animal interests winning”. 



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