The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. Contents, images, notes, references, bibliography, index. 214 pp. $34.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780520260245
Some years ago, my wife and I were hiking along the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in central Colorado when a group of ravens suddenly appeared in front of us and began surfing the updrafts on the canyon walls. We watched them for a half hour as they swooped and whooped in the air currents like the kayakers at the white-water play spot in the river a few miles from my house. I could think of no explanation for the birds’ behavior other than sheer joy. In The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure, Jonathan Balcombe combines anecdotes of similar events, recent discoveries in animal behavior, and stunning photographs to make the case that other species experience pleasure. The result is both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying.