Monday, January 5, 2009

Temple Grandin Discussed "Animals Make Us Human" on NPR

Animal advocate Temple Grandin was just on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, to discuss her new book, "Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals."  The book looks at common notions of animal happiness and concludes that dogs, cats, horses, cows and zoo animals, among others, have an emotional capacity similar to humans. Grandin explains how to fulfill their needs, such as how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising.

For those not familiar with her work, Grandin, who is autistic, is totally fascinating. As one of the nation's top designers of livestock facilities, she audits and advises company's, including McDonalds, on implementing humane conditions for housing animals - and for slaughtering them. 
Her previous books include Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior and Thinking in Pictures.

Grandin discussed the connections between animal behavior and autistic behavior. She also explained how overbreeding has lead to structural and emotional issues in farm animals. For example, manipulating chickens o produce more eggs has resulted in chickens that are hype-rexcitable. The result of over-breeding pigs so they produce more meat has caused leg deformities, such as legs that are too straight, and dew claws that are too long. She advises the industry how to breed the animals so they are structurally and mentally sound.

Grandin, who has written extensively on her life with autism as well as other books on animals, says she doesn't like physical contact with people, but enjoys physical contact with animals.  "I really enjoy stroking an animal," she said on NPR, describing them as firm strokes like mother's tongue, and enjoys stroking cattle on the neck. "I do get pleasure from stroking an animal and seeing that animal be happy."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone interested to see Temple Grandin can catch her talking about her new book, ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN at these area locations:

January 6, 7 p.m.
B&N (1076 Post Road East, Westport, CT)

January 7, 7:30 p.m.
New Canaan Library (151 Main St., New Canaan, CT)

January 8, 7 p.m.
B&N (911 Haddonfield Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ)

January 8, 7 p.m.
B&N (425 Marketplace Blvd, Hamilton, NJ)

January 12, 7 p.m.
B&N Union Square (NYC)

January 19, 7:30 p.m.
92nd St. Y (NYC)