17 September 2010

Day 174: Ape House

Ape House by Sara Gruen. ISBN: 9780385523219 (ARC - published Sept. 7, 2010).

Even though there aren't many of them, I loved the interactions with the apes in this book.  Gruen made them so dynamic and engaging that I just wanted to know what they would do next.  I've always been fascinated with animals.  I could watch ants until my eyes bled, just observing different sections of the colony and how it all functions together.

Animal behavior is so intriguing because it feels like I can almost figure out what they're thinking and why they do it.  But then I have to keep in mind that some of it is bound to be instinctual and there's the mystery of exactly how much is and how much isn't.

We've all had pets who were to dear to us because their behavior seemed so human and empathetic on one level, and inexplicably animal on the other.  I think it's why we sometimes trust our animals more than our best friends.  I think we still would even if those animals could communicate in a human language.  I've had cats that would curl up with me when I was crying or upset about something.  I practiced my French on Simon, and my room mate's cat thinks I'm a chew toy and more or less hates my guts most of the time.  Probably because I end up clipping his nails all the time, whereas my room mate is the one who gives him gooshy food.  You would think the liberal doses of catnip would even it out, but no.

Rocky was excellent at being almost human.  Rocky was my first cat, and I was in love with him in the way that only a five year old girl can be in love with her first pet.  He was very good at knowing exactly when I needed his company, going so far as to join me on anger fueled walks.  Sometimes he trotted ahead of me, seeming to scout the area and turning back to "mreowch" at me to make sure I was still following.

It really makes me wonder how we can possibly treat our animals the way we do.  I don't necessarily mean pets.  And I do understand the necessities of animal testing, but there is a level of understanding of what it means to have these animals.  It is particularly distressing to me when animals higher in cognizance than mice are used, because I'm deeply afraid on some level that they know what is being done to them and why, even if they don't know details.  And I think I worry that one day we'll have to answer for what we've done to them.

My review can be found on Goodreads.


  1. I loved Water For Elephants so I need to pick this up. My favorite character was Rosie the elephant. It wasn't until the end that I read Gruen based her on an actual circus elephant which I thought was fascinating. She seems to do her research well when writing about animals.

  2. I do tend to like Gruen's non-human characters better. I need to pick up Water for Elephants now. Half the reason I made sure to get this at ALA is because of all the wonderful things I've heard about that title.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...