Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book: Wild Animal Neighbors by Ann Downer

Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World by Ann Downer. Minneapolis, MN; Twenty-First Century Books; 2013. 64 Pages.

This book asks the question about how our lives as humans have affected the wildlife that previously roamed free around the areas that we now call home, areas that we have turned from forests and meadows into cities and suburbs. The book introduces readers to the urban wildlife conundrum with a story of a black bear that despite being removed from Cape Cod by wildlife officials, it soon returned to a populated suburb of Boston.The biggest question throughout the book is why? Why do wild animals continue returning to populated cities or choose to try and make their home in a place clearly different from their natural habitat?

The concept of the city as an ecosystem is introduced next to readers, covering the many reasons an urban area may be seen as a potential home to wildlife. The book dissects "artificial cliffs" created by skyscrapers that become inviting to hawks as well as the "heat island effect" which basically states that cities, with their concrete and metal barriers, are often warmer than the surrounding wilderness, and thus a more pleasant place to raise young. Divided into roughly seven stories that show examples how wild animals have been spotted amongst the hustle and bustle of cities. Wild Animal Neighbors uses raccoons, mountain lions, crows, coyotes, flying foxes, turtles, and alligators as examples of wildlife that has been spotted in territories now claimed by humans. The book discusses the reasons that an animal may decide that it prefers a more urban setting than its natural habitat, stating reasons that make its foray successful in terms of survival. Also covered are the ways that animals change their behaviors and become urban citizens.

Wild Animal Neighbors combines short and interesting stories of how animals have crept out of their natural habitats into our more densely populated areas along with facts that are presented in an appealing way. The photographs included are pulled directly from the reported stories themselves, creating a book that will have readers turning the pages to learn more about our new neighbors.