Animals

The title of this book, Guilty Pigs, is a reference to the medieval practice of bringing animals and insects to trial and/or punishing them for their conduct, such as killing humans, or destroying orchards, crops, and vineyards, or, in one case, chewing the records of ecclesiastical proceedings. The behaviour of the animal or insect determined whether proceedings were brought in secular or ecclesiastical jurisdictions. A charge of homicide would be initiated in secular tribunals, where domesticated animals such as pigs, cows, and horses were tried and punished, invariably by pronouncement of the death penalty. When animals and insects such as rats, mice, locusts, and weevils invaded houses, fields, or orchards, proceedings were brought in ecclesiastical courts, which eschewed the death penalty, instead excommunicating the hapless defendant.

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Family histories are always complicated. Delia (‘Mickie’) Akeley and her monkey, JT Jr, are the titular family in this intriguing book, but its story includes the grand global family of colonial museums, and the personal families of Theodore Roosevelt and the author, Iain McCalman.

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What does it mean to really know an ecosystem? To name all the plants and animals in a place and understand their interactions? To feel an embodied connection to Country? To see and hear in ways that confirm and extend that knowledge?

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David Attenborough turned ninety last year. In a short animation celebrating his birthday, two Aardman penguins muse on their first meeting with the famous naturalist. ‘There’s something just about him,’ says the first penguin. ‘I don’t know why you wouldn’t love David Attenborough,’ declares the second. Indeed, it is hard to ...

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The Australian Bird Guide edited by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack, and Kim Franklin

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October 2017, no. 395

With five illustrated field guides, two e-guide apps, and at least three photographic guides available to help people identify birds in Australia, some would question the need for yet another. The first field guide to Australian birds, written and illustrated by renowned bird artist Peter Slater, was published in 1970 and 1974 (two volumes) ...

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Zoological gardens are conflicted institutions. They provide a miraculous opportunity for close-ups with exotic and native animals one might never otherwise encounter. Yet they do so by keeping those very animals captive. The creaturely contact that zoos hope and claim can help transform citizens into advocates for animals and the environment is discomfited, if not ...

A sea change has occurred in the way we regard pets. In recent decades the West has fervently embraced pet keeping. Australia has one of the world's highest levels of pet ownership ...

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Australia’s wild dog, the dingo, probably generates the most diverse human responses of any of our fauna – from a determination to exterminate to passionate conservation advocacy. This book is a bold attempt to cover this diversity and asserts that the dingo is a unique wild animal worthy of conservation for its intrinsic value, ...

Animal Death edited by Jay Johnston and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey

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June–July 2014, no. 362

As Carol Freeman notes in a footnote to her chapter in Animal Death, ‘what the term “animal studies” defines is still being debated’. The seventeen chapters of this edited volume range across historical, scientific, cultural, and artistic animal-related subjects. They reflect a self-conscious commitment on the part of editors Jay Johnston and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey to the transdisciplinary nature of this inchoate field of scholarship. Although the title and unifying theme of Animal Death might seem to betoken a narrow focus on confrontational questions surrounding the killing of animals by humans – which are at times addressed unflinchingly – in actuality the book’s compass is far wider. It is a text that will be of great value to novices and experienced animal studies scholars alike: the kind of book a reader should be wary of opening with a pencil in hand, lest she find herself underlining the whole thing.

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In an age of YouTube piglets and puppies, when animals are images and those images are everywhere, the interior lives of animals have scant authority. The triumph of the animal welfare lobby has been to widen, in the public imagination, our definition of what types of bodies can suffer. But who can guess what goes on inside animals’ heads? Only poets are pet ...

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