The Smile of a Dolphin

The Smile of a Dolphin
Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions
Edited by Marc Bekoff
Discovery Books, New York, October 2000
224 pages; 120 illustrations; $35 ISBN 1-563-31925-X

Highly recommended

Marc Bekoff, a professor of Organismic biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a prolific author and editor. In Smile of a Dolphin, he has struck a groundbreaking collaboration with Discovery Books, which has provided his book with the most magnificent illustrations of an enormous variety of animal emotions-actually 120 in number. He has categorized these under the headings of Love, followed by Fear, Aggression and Anger, then Joy and Grief and, finally, Fellow Feelings-a strikingly similar series of categories to that of Charles Darwin's 1871 bestseller, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

In 1967, the Animal Welfare Institute issued a 54-page publication entitled Animal Expressions: A Photographic Footnote to Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Photographs were arranged under six categories: Affection; Joy; Contentment; Pain, Anger, Anxiety and Depression; Astonishment; and Terror.

Now Discovery Books has developed animal photography so splendid that a wholly new light has been shed on Darwin's powerful insight into the continuum of emotions felt and expressed by the human and great numbers of other species. But Darwin gets a bad review in Stephen Jay Gould's Foreword, which stresses the "Darwinian observers" and "Darwinian motor" and-worst of all-"Darwin's or anyone else's restricted human philosophy." Despite this hostile sendoff, Bekoff's Introduction gives Darwin's thinking full credence as do his section introductions, and the body of the book contains fascinating contributions.

David Macdonald, the Oxford University expert on foxes, describes the gentle teachings of an old vixen to a single cub who learns how to capture earthworms, a staple of fox diet. Macdonald says, "Infrared binoculars revolutionized my study of Red Foxes." He called these glasses "the hot eye."

"On a moonless night, I stalked across a favored worming pasture with the hot eye. After many minutes of silent footsteps, I reached a ridge, raised the binoculars and peered over. There I saw Toothypeg standing not thirty meters from me, accompanied by her leggy cub. Toothypeg, so called because only one worn canine tooth remained in her antique muzzle, was my oldest radio-collared fox, then approaching her ninth birthday...Several days later, I saw Toothypeg and her cub again. Experience still weighed in the old vixen's favor; she caught four worms each minute to her cub's one. But by the time our paths crossed again a month later, he'd graduated with distinction and was catching as proficiently as his mother. It's an observation I've never repeated, but it was sufficient to convince me that worm-catching for foxes is culture passed on from mother to cub."

Deborah and Roger Fouts of the Great Ape project and the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, Central Washington University, wrote a powerful summary based on their 30 years' study of chimpanzees. "...we've come to believe that we share all our emotions with them. Such differences that exist are merely of degree."

The description of the five chimpanzees', Washoe, Moja, Tatu, Loulis and Dar, joy when their ideal new quarters were finally built is inspiring: "As Washoe stared out of the window onto her sunlit garden, she began to scream with delight usually saved for Christmas morning. She hugged Loulis and ran toward the glass doors and signed OUT, OUT. Our plan had been to give the chimpanzees two weeks to acclimate to their new home, but they spent those first days begging to go OUT. So on the third day, after breakfast, we told them, TODAY YOU GO OUT. Washoe leaped up and parked herself by the hydraulic door that leads to the outside upper deck. She waited there for more than an hour, with Loulis right behind her. He seemed a little nervous and needed his mother's reassurance.

"Finally, the door slid up, Loulis swaggered, then seemed to think better of it and sat back down. Washoe waited for him patiently, but Dar squeezed by and exploded out the door and down the stairs to the ground. He raced across the grass field with an ecstatic movement that looked like quadrupedal skipping. He headed directly for the far terrace, climbed to the top of the thirty-two-foot-high fence, and gazed out over Ellensburg. Then he turned toward us and let out a loud pant-hoot of happiness. Washoe was the next one out. She stood upright and surveyed the terraces, the garden, and the familiar human faces at the observation window below. Stretching out her leg, she touched her toes to the first step and then pulled them back. Then she noticed Debbi was standing near the fence. Washoe walked over with a spring in her step, reached through the fence, and kissed Debbi through the wire. This was clearly her way of saying thank you, and Debbi was moved to tears by Washoe's thoughtful gratitude."