Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Kathryn Bowers
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In the spring of 2005, cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz was called to consult on an unusual patient: an Emperor tamarin at the Los Angeles Zoo. While examining the tiny monkey’s sick heart, she learned that wild animals can die of a form of cardiac arrest brought on by extreme emotional stress. It was a syndrome identical to a human condition but one that veterinarians called by a different name—and treated in innovative ways.
This remarkable medical parallel launched Natterson-Horowitz on a journey of discovery that reshaped her entire approach to medicine. She began to search for other connections between the human and animal worlds: Do animals get breast cancer, anxiety-induced fainting spells, sexually transmitted diseases? Do they suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, addiction?
The answers were astonishing. Dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer. Koalas catch chlamydia. Reindeer seek narcotic escape in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Stallions self-mutilate. Gorillas experience clinical depression.
Joining forces with science journalist Kathryn Bowers, Natterson-Horowitz employs fascinating case studies and meticulous scholarship to present a revelatory understanding of what animals can teach us about the human body and mind. “Zoobiquity” is the term the authors have coined to refer to a new, species-spanning approach to health. Delving into evolution, anthropology, sociology, biology, veterinary science, and zoology, they break down the walls between disciplines, redefining the boundaries of medicine.
Zoobiquity explores how animal and human commonality can be used to diagnose, treat, and heal patients of all species. Both authoritative and accessible, offering cutting-edge research through captivating narratives, this provocative book encourages us to see our essential connection to all living beings.
killed seven people and caused sixty-two known cases of encephalitis. In the years since it first emerged, it’s believed to have caused nearly thirty thousand people to get sick and more than a thousand to die. Then there are the animal casualties: thousands of wild and exotic birds—and quite a number of horses—that died from the virus, silently and uncounted. But the misdiagnosis was a turning point of sorts for public health in the United States. In a report to Congress detailing the outbreak
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with relatives and immature members of the group occurs in primates and many other vertebrate and invertebrate species; some evolutionary biologists think that the parent-child clashes we associate with adolescence may have emerged to protect newly sexualized animals from early mating attempts by their own relatives. And interspecies sex—known as bestiality when humans engage in it—has been occurring for an extremely long time, possibly as long as sex itself has been going on. Respectable
cocaine peddled to and used by today’s human addicts differ significantly from naturally found plant sources of these psychoactive agents. The alcohol available to human consumers is much more refined and intense than what Mother Nature can make on her own. Furthermore, for scientists it’s frustrating that most examples of wild animal substance use and its effects are based on observation and anecdote. Indeed, the few papers that do examine wild animal models of intoxication bemoan this fact and
they frequently mutate, the animal STDs of today can become the human food-borne illnesses of tomorrow. Given chance encounters with human genitals and time to evolve there, those food-borne illnesses can then mutate into the next human STDs. This is not just an idle theory. It’s exactly what happened in the case of the deadliest STD currently stalking our planet. It is now generally believed that HIV evolved from SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), a pathogen of chimpanzees, gorillas, and