Carl Safina, author, scientist, MacArthur Fellow

by | Aug 12, 2015

Dr. Carl Safina — a prize-winning author, scientist and MacArthur Fellow—discusses his new book, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel,” which in the broadest of strokes, involves three big sections, in which Safina is observing the behavior of elephants at Amboseli National Park, wolves in Yellowstone National Park and killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, alongside top experts who’ve worked in each of those areas for decades.wolf We start the conversation focusing on wolves, with my reading him a passage from the book (“Wolves may not have words. What they have is: recognition, motivation, emotion, mental images, a mind map of their landscape, a roster of their community, a bank of memories and learned skills, and a catalog of scents with meanings attached as definitions”) and asking him to expand on that. Safina also addresses the singular figures with whom he did that key observing, in Yellowstone (Rick Beyond Words Jacket FINAL.inddMcIntyre), in Amboseli (Cynthia Moss), and the Pacific Northwest (Ken Balcomb) and the extraordinary body of research and other information they’ve generated during the decades they’ve devoted to studying their respective animals. He touches on the furor triggered by the killing of Cecil The Lion, and issues swirling around that furor, including information that’s been raised about trophy hunting and the true economics of conservation in those areas of the world. He explains why 8697_carl_safina_by_michael_lutch_lgrhe repudiates the aversion to anthropomorphism that has long characterized animal behaviorists and other scientists. And, in acknowledging the interview fell on World Elephant Day, Safina closes out the conversation with a succinct, poignant observation about elephants. (


COMEDY CORNER: Kyle Kinane’s “Cat Sneeze” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Syd Barrett’s “Effervescing Elephants,” Maceo Parker’s “Elephant’s Foot,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk”


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