*** The Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke

The long subtitle of The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife is truth-in advertising for this hilarious, delightful, entertaining, and instructive compendium about all sorts of animals, starting with the sloth. The author is, really, the founder of The Sloth Appreciation Society, and manages to make the reader admire the slow everything of sloths, including very slow bathroom habits — which seem to play an essential role in their not-so-slow love lives.

We also learn about Peruvian pick-me-up smoothies made of pulverized frogs, a slew of amazing scientific errors including fantastical theories about disappearing birds since no one could quite grasp, or observe, bird migration until the 20th century (until a clever man invented the bird tag), the eating habits of vultures, who are so specialized that they need to work together to properly devour a dead animal, and how castoreum is the polite way to talk about beavers’ anal secretions, and is often noted as “natural vanilla flavor” on prepared foods. Yuck!

My favorite story of the book is probably that of the hippos imported by Pablo Escobar (yes, the drug lord) into Columbia, who have since thrived and now terrorize the locals. Apparently they run quite fast. (They also manufacture their own sunblock, fun fact.) A treat for any nature lover.



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