“Thanking the Monkey” is an eye-opening animal welfare classic just like “Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer. Written in an incredibly engaging style and visually-intriguing illustrations, this book offers something interesting for readers both in content and images. What I find particularly interesting is the author’s boldness to cover areas of animal welfare that I had never even considered. Karen Dawn’s message is not simply that we should be kind to animals. It is that we need to analyze our relationship with animals in a more comprehensive and active way. We need to consider whether eating factory-farmed chicken that are so stuffed with antibiotics that they can’t sit upright and have their beaks chopped off. She asks us to consider whether we need to kill and skin dozens of animals for just one individual to make a fashion statement. She also questions whether we should have animals subjected to frivolous tests (cosmetic testing, smoking tests) when there are non-animal alternatives that are readily available. She also questions whether we should subject chimpanzees to smoking tests while pregnant, even though we already know that this damages a fetus.
Karen Dawn isn’t content to stay there, however. She analyzes animal welfare organizations, from Greenpeace to the World Wide Fund, openly questioning some of their recent decisions to allow hunters and other animal-harming supporters into their fold in order to raise funds. She also criticizes the organic and open-range movement. While stating in several places that free range and organic farming, she questions the brutality and treatment of animals in these environments that are supposed to be more “humane”.
This book was truly an eye-opener because I always considered myself knowledgeable about animal welfare issues, but this book showed me how much I lacked. I didn’t even consider the fact that the only way we get from a cow is if they are pregnant. I never considered what happened after the bullfight is over in the “Running of the Bulls”. I also never considered what happens to animals that perform in the movies after they are retired. Her book cause me to really re-evaluate my common assumptions about modern man’s interactions in many situations. We have been really cruel and careless to animals for a very long time in a lot of different ways!
I highly (emphasis) recommend this book if you are interested or involved in animal welfare on any level, this will deepen your interest and desire to help animals. This book is not for the squeamish, however, Karen Dawn has no problem going into the gory details to prove a point!