Not Just for Christmas

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Earlier this year I acquired a stuffed toy, a fluffy foot-long sea otter that I named Athena. I usually fall asleep with her tucked under my chin. Living alone, and with a travel schedule that keeps me from getting a real companion animal, I welcome the ‘company’ and ‘affection’ provided by this surrogate pet. Although […]

All Atwitter

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

On a May day in 1784, Mozart was passing a Viennese bird shop when he heard a melody he recognised – the allegretto theme of his new piano concerto (number 17 in G major). A starling was singing it, note perfect but for two sharpened Gs. We know this because Mozart immediately jotted down the […]

Baboon Companions

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The next time you are at the zoo or a natural history museum, take a little time out for some social anthropology. Look at the people and which animals they are crowded around. Chances are it won’t be the noble lungfish, despite its 300-million-year evolutionary pedigree; also cold-shouldered will be a range of very interesting […]

Clever Claws

Posted on by David Gelber

An alien zoologist on an expedition to collect samples of intelligent life on Earth would probably take a few of us back for further observation. But what other species on Earth would also be on the alien’s specimen shelves? Our extraterrestrial Attenborough’s choice would probably very much surprise us: while many of us would like […]

Cataholics & Catophobes

Posted on by David Gelber

These two books appear at a time when Larry (the Number 10 cat, in the tabby and white corner) and Palmerston (the Foreign Office cat, in the black and white corner) have made headlines by fighting like ragamuffins all over Downing Street. They are billed as ‘mousers’, but surely what Westminster needs is a really […]

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RLF - March