Jonathan Balcombe, animal behavior scholar and author

by | Sep 7, 2011

Jonathan Balcombe–animal behavior scholar (he holds a PhD in ethology), animal advocate and author of four books, most recently “The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure,” which features dozens of gorgeous, often-striking photographs of animals in the throes of various kinds of bliss–discusses the factors that led him onto the scientific path of examining, studying and writing about animal behavior.



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He also theorizes about why most of his scientist colleagues have failed to embrace his work in this realm, instead tending to look down their academic noses at it. He also notes that glimmers of evidence supporting the notion that animals do in fact experience pleasure is as nearby as the cats or dogs we have in our living room. He also addresses his methods of assembling the book, combing through all the potential photographs, and dividing those photos into categories (Play, Food, Courtship and Sex, and so on), etc. He also describes the approach to writing the text, as a scientist and scholar, and for a project intended as a trade book, pursuing more depth and sophistication than material aimed at the lay reader. It worked: As The New York Times noted in it’s laudatory review, “Dr. Baclombe’s text is a serious examination of the subject of animal pleasure, a study that ‘remains nascent and largely neglected in scientific discourse.’ ” (

COMEDY CORNER: Jerry Seinfeld’s “Horses” (portion)(

MUSIC: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions’ “Rattlesnakes,” Maceo Parker’s “Elephant’s Foot,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Betty Carter, Kenny Dorham & Wynton Kelly’s version of “Blue Bird of Happiness”

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