I'm professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, and a past Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 I was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior. I'm also an ambassador for Jane Goodall's international Roots & Shoots program, in which I work with students of all ages, senior citizens, and prisoners and co-chair of the Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute. Jane and I co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Citizens for Responsible Animal Behavior Studies in 2000. I'm on the Board of Directors of The Cougar Fund and on the science advisory board for Project Coyote. I've also been part of the international program Science and the Spiritual Quest II and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program on Science, Ethics, and Religion In 2009 I became a member of the Scientific Expert Advisory Panel of Voiceless and in 2009 I was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi Award by the Auckland (New Zealand) SPCA. In 2022 I was recognized as a hero by the Academy of Dog Trainers. I've also served on the Board of Directors for Minding Animals International for many years and am a member of Colorado's Governor's Council for Animal Protection (GCAP).
Research interests and books
For decades my main areas of research have included animal behavior, cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds), behavioral ecology, and compassionate conservation, and I've also written extensively on human-animal interactions and animal protection. My research and writing reflect my on-going and eclectic interests that center on the basic tenets of compassionate conservation, namely, "First do no harm" and the life of every individual matters because they are alive and have intrinsic value, not because of what they can do for us. Treating every individual with respect and dignity is the decent thing to do. You can read more about compassionate conservation and find many references here and here.
I've published numerous essays (popular, scientific, and book chapters) and 30/40 books (depending on how you count multivolume encyclopedias) that have been translated into 21 languages. My books include Species of Mind: The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology (with Colin Allen), Nature's Purposes: Analyses of Function and Design in Biology (edited with Colin Allen and George Lauder), Animal play: Evolutionary, Comparative, and Ecological Perspectives (edited with John Byers), Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, and a book on the lighter side, Nature's Life Lessons: Everyday Truths from Nature . My children's book Strolling with Our Kin was published in Fall 2000 as was The Smile of a Dolphin: Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions. The Cognitive Animal: Empirical and theoretical perspectives on animal cognition (edited with Colin Allen and Gordon Burghardt) appeared in 2002 as did Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart and Jane Goodall and my The Ten Trusts: What we must do to care for the animals we love. I've also edited a three volume Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (2004) and a collection of my essays titled Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Reflections on Redecorating Nature was published in 2006. A four-volume Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships: A Global Exploration of our Connections with Animals and Cara Blessley Lowe and my edited book of readings on cougars titled Listening to Cougars were published in 2007. My book Animals Matter: A Biologist Explains Why We Should Treat Animals with Compassion and Respect also was published in 2007 and Temple University Press published my children's book, Animals at Play: Rules of the Game in 2008.
A summary of my research on animal emotions titled The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter was published in 2007 and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce) was published in 2009. The two-volume revision and expansion of my 1998 Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare was published in 2010 as was The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint. Ignoring Nature No More: The Case For Compassionate Conservation and a collection of my essays from Psychology Today called Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation were published in Fall 2013, and Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of compassion and Coexistence was published in 2014. Jill Robinson (founder of Animals Asia) and my award-winning children's book titled Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears also was published in 2013 and The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall was published in 2015.
Recent books include The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age, Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do, Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible, A Dog's World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans, Dogs Demystified: An A to Z Guide to All Things Canine, The Emotional Lives of Animals (second edition), and Jane Goodall at 90: Celebrating an Astonishing Lifetime of Science, Advocacy, Humanitarianism, Hope, and Peace. A list of my books can be seen here.
My work has been featured on 48 Hours, in Time Magazine, Life Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, New Scientist, BBC Wildlife, Orion, Scientific American, Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, on NPR, BBC, Fox, NaturGEO, in a National Geographic Society television special ("Play: The Nature of the Game"), Discovery TV's "Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry," Animal Planet's "The Power of Play," National Geographic Society's "Hunting in America," and more recently in "What Animals Think" and PBS Nature's "Why We Love Cats and Dogs," "Animal Odd Couples," "My Bionic Pet," and "Animal Reunions." I've also appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, and 20/20.
In 1986 I became the first (and remain the only) American to win my age-class at the Tour du Haut Var bicycle race (also called the Master's/age-graded Tour de France). My hobbies include cycling (road and gravel), nordic skiing, and reading spy novels.
To see my Psychology Today essays please click here.
Boulder Art Behind Bars is part of the Transitions Program at the Boulder County Jail. I've been teaching this class that focuses on animal behavior, behavioral ecology, cognitive ethology, and compassionate conservation for almost 20 years. It allows students to express themselves through writing and art. Some of the artwork can be seen in the photo gallery below. Please visit https://www.boulderjailart.com for more information. Below is a selection of essays about this very unique class.
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