Cover image for The octopus and the orangutan : more true tales of animal intrigue, intelligence, and ingenuity
The octopus and the orangutan : more true tales of animal intrigue, intelligence, and ingenuity
Linden, Eugene.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 242 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL785 .L724 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QL785 .L724 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In The Octopus and the Orangutan, Eugene Linden takes readers on another unforgettable journey into the minds and hearts of animals. The Parrot's Lament, his acclaimed previous book, featured extraordinary true stories of animal consciousness and intelligence. Linden's latest book goes beyond our everyday encounters with animals at home and in the zoo in a wide-ranging collection of real-life anecdotes that offer further compelling evidence of their higher mental capabilities and their awareness of the needs and feelings of others. The Octopus and the Orangutanreveals extraordinary new details about animals introduced in The Parrot's Lament, and then finds intelligent behavior in surprising new places, ranging from the octopus's garden to the crow's nest. Amazing feats of stealth, deception, and larceny accompany unexpected acts of kindness and friendship. Animals show they are cagey bargainers and tough negotiators both with their human keepers and with one another. The animals themselves are our guides in this fresh look at the question of animal intelligence. From the beloved pets we think we know to the remarkable survival skills of creatures in the wild, Eugene Linden once again shares his wonder and joy at the infinite variety of animal behavior that continues to inform, amaze, and touch us all.

Author Notes

Award winning journalist Eugene Linden is the author of books, articles and essays about science, technology and the environment. He has written a thought provoking, insightful book, "The Future in Plain Sight: Nine Clues to the Coming Instability" (1998).

In this book, Linden presents the thesis that rapid change is eminent and evident in climate conditions, the spread of infectious disease, volatile economic conditions, loss of biodiversity and other clues. The reader is then projected to 2050 as Linden presents the consequences of this instability. Somewhat of a doomsayer, the author's vision is not a pretty one: lethal plagues, deadly famine, catastrophic storms, economic collapse and more. But in the final analysis, some small hope is offered. "Over the millennia, humanity has proved to be an artful dodger of fate, a defier of limits, a surmounter of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and a master escape artist from traps laid by nature. Only the very brave or fool hardy would assert flatly that our resourceful species has finally exhausted its bag of tricks. Still, it is very late in the game."

Other books by Linden include "Apes, Men and Language" (1974), "The Alms Race: the Impact of American Voluntary Aid Abroad" (1976), "Affluence and Discontent: the Anatomy of Consumer Societies" (1979), and "Silent Partners: the Legacy of the Ape Language Experiments" (1986), a New York Times notable book.

Linden has been writing for Time magazine since 1987. Some of his award winning cover stories are "Doomed" (1995) exploring endangered tigers, "Megacities" (1993), dealing with overpopulation and "The World's Last Eden" (1992) about rain forest destruction. The author is a frequent guest on radio and television shows from Firing Line to Good Morning America and a contributor to a wide range of periodicals from The Wall Street Journal to National Geographic. .

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author of The Parrot's Lament (1999) provides a new crop of stories concerning the intelligence of animals. While we wait for scientists to agree on how to study animal intelligence, credible anecdotes will give us some sense of what's out there; if nothing else, these stories can prompt scientific investigation. Linden's stories are told by zookeepers, veterinarians, trainers--and even scientists--who have access to animals on a daily basis. These tales range in subject from escape, deceit, and empathy to communication, and they cover such species as the titular octopus and orangutan as well as elephants, orcas, and house cats. Linden's chatty writing style, along with the science behind the stories that he occasionally slips in, makes for entertaining and enlightening reading. Nancy Bent

Publisher's Weekly Review

Eugene Linden, writer for Time magazine, revisits the territory of his Parrot's Lament, delving deeper into the animal world, and reemerges with The Octopus and the Orangutan: More True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity. From the observations of trainers and handlers as well as experiences in the wild, Linden presents anecdotes that illustrate the workings of the minds of both domestic and wild creatures-how they use tools, play games and adapt to change. In "When Elephants Cheat," Linden explores animal deception; in "The Starling that Charmed Mozart," the composer's bird is thought to have sung his music. Linden brings readers closer to an understanding of intelligence in general and an appreciation of these creatures with whom we share the earth. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Although admittedly not a scientist, Linden, the author of several books and articles about animal intelligence and environmental issues, infuses this sequel to his successful Parrot's Lament with important scientific concepts and interesting conundrums relating to animal intelligence. Entertaining and captivating anecdotes about sly octopuses, orangutan escape artists, and penguins mimicking football-playing scientists in Antarctica leaven Linden's graceful musings and also make his discussion of potentially daunting concepts such as convergent evolution or Morgan's Canon more digestible to the lay reader. In the end, elements of intelligence such as empathy, deception, communication, cooperation, and imitation between animals and their human keepers led Linden to "focus on what intelligence does." This is much more than a collection of fascinating tales of animals coping with life in human-imposed environments; it is a thoughtful exploration of the nature of intelligence in both humans and animals. Recommended for popular science collections. (Bibliography and index not seen.) Ann Forister, Roseville P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.