Pleasurable Kingdom marshalls the latest evidence that animals, like humans, enjoy themselves. It debunks the popular perception that life for most is a continuous, grim struggle for survival. Instead it suggests that creatures from birds to bats to baboons may feel good thanks to play, sex, touch, food, anticipation, comfort, aesthetics and more. Combining rigorous evidence, elegant argument and amusing anecdote, leading animal behaviour researcher Dr Jonathan Balcombe proposes that evolution favours sensory rewards because they drive living things to stay alive and reproduce. Animal pain and stress, once controversial, are now acknowledged by legislation in many countries. Likewise the possibility of positive feelings in creatures other than humans has important ramifications for science and society and is thus ripe for informed debate, Balcombe concludes.
JONATHAN BALCOMBE is Animal Behaviour Research Consultant for the Washington DC-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has published numerous scientific papers and magazine articles on, among other things, bat communication, turtle nesting and bird breeding. His first book, The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives and Recommendations was published by Humane Society Press in 2000.