O'Brien's story of her profound friendship with a barn owl is
strange, exciting, lovely and important. A much-needed corrective to our
sanitized, human-centric view of animals as instinct machines or as pets that can be
trained to perform stupid tricks, Wesley the Owl reasserts the powerful
and sometimes icky otherworldliness and breathtaking complexity of nature.
Prepare to be enlightened, disgusted, delighted and humbled.
O'Brien is a thoroughly animal-oriented person. Her friends keeps goats, horses and dogs and spend their time studying owls, vultures, or rotting sea mammal carcasses. She and her fellow biologists pride themselves on their ability to suppress disgust and on their constant and enthusiastic interest in the minutiae of nature. Describing her time working in the owl labs at Caltech, O'Brien notes a biologist whose body has become a permanent ...
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