By spending deep time with Carl Safina and the sperm whales, scarlet macaws, and chimpanzees he studies, we become armchair travelers, delighting in his knowledge and wonder for these animals. Becoming Wild explores the ways sperm whales care for their young, macaws use beauty, and chimpanzees relate to one another. It reminds us that we cannot trademark these aspects of culture, we are not unique; more importantly, it returns us to our own better natures and asks us to care for the world we’re missing when we center ourselves.
Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth's remaining wild places. It shows how if you're a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt. Becoming Wild offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity.