Becoming a tiger: how baby animals learn to live in the wild
By Susan McCarthy
Published by HarperCollins, 2004
ISBN 0066209242, 9780066209241
From the co–author of the New York Times bestseller When Elephants Weep comes a book that uses true stories backed by scientific research to explore the way young animals discover their worlds and learn how to survive.
How does a baby animal figure out how to get around in the world? How much of what animals know is instinctive, and how much must they learn?
In Becoming a Tiger, bestselling author Susan McCarthy addresses these intriguing matters, presenting fascinating and funny examples of animal behaviour in the laboratory and in the wild. McCarthy shows us how baby animals transform themselves from clueless kittens, clumsy cubs, or scrawny chicks into efficient predators, successful foragers, or deft nest–builders. From geese to mice, dolphins to orang–utans, bats to (of course) tigers, McCarthy\'s warm, amusing, and insightful examinations of animal life and developments provides a surprising window into the mental worlds of our fine fuzzy, furred, finned, and feathered friends.
oReaders will be fascinated by a close look at animal intelligence, learning, and family life.
Although all animals come into the world with certain innate behaviors, such as sneezing, most life skills do need to be learned, says McCarthy, even things as simple as cramming fingers into one\'s mouth. Take Cody, an eight-week-old orangutan: \"He wanted to put his fingers in his mouth and suck on them, but it was hard to get them to the right place,\" writes McCarthy, coauthor of the bestselling When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Life of Animals. After \"waving his hand around, jamming it in his ear, [and] making expectant sucking noises with his mouth,\" he seemed confused. Baby animals like Cody, McCarthy explains, learn in a variety of ways, like trial and error, copying adults and conditioning. She divides the book into broad categories, such as finding food (\"How to Make a Living\"), avoiding predators (\"How Not to Be Eaten\") and communicating (\"How to Get Your Point Across\"), and then uses hundreds of examples gleaned from scientific journals, books and wildlife rehabilitators who care for orphaned animals to show how animals learn. McCarthy writes clearly and her penchant for humor (she explains early on that imprinting \"will be discussed in scandalous detail later\") makes the book an easy read, both for students of learning and those who can\'t get enough of television\'s Animal Planet. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Susan McCarthy is co-author (with Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson) of the New York Times bestseller When Elephants Weep. She holds degrees in biology and journalism, writes regularly for Salon.com, and has contributed to Best American Science Writing. She lives in San Francisco.