WILD ANIMALS, GENTLE WOMEN by Margery Facklam

WILD ANIMALS, GENTLE WOMEN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Women who study animals are the separate subjects of Facklam's ten chapters. Included, inevitably, are Leakey's primate-watchers who were more fully chronicled in Kevles' Watching the Wild Apes (1976); here Goodall is introduced observing the famous chimpanzee tool-making incident, Dian Fossey's unanswered questions about gorilla behavior add some interest to her chapter, and Birute Galdikas offers some homey examples of her resident orangutans' intelligence. Facklam also looks in on a pair of Canadian beluga-watchers, an ichthyologist who works with sharks, a porpoise trainer, and two untrained but observant, more humanitarian types, who keep and care for beavers and owls, respectively. (The latter, discovering that her charges needed the calcium in the small rodents they normally consumed, fed them ground bone and other calcium sources sculpted into Schnauzer-furred mice for eye appeal.) Unfortunately Facklam's opening sketch, of Belle Benchley who directed the San Diego Zoo until 1953, lacks focus, and her second, on Ruth Harkness who acquired three baby pandas in Tibet in the 1930s, fails to face up to the questions raised about her procedures; moreover, neither fits Facklam's ""animal watchers"" designation. Other sections, too, with their summarizing detours on the species involved, are a bit slack, and so are Facklam's explanations of such concepts as operant conditioning; however, the subjects have obvious role model interest and their work a wide armchair appeal.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1978
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich