Packed with wonderful photos, Jonathan Balcombe’s book is a captivating look at animal pleasure, says Robert Phillips
Can animals feel emotions like we do; and more specifically can they feel enjoyment and pleasure? Balcombe’s oeuvre offers up page after page of glossy photos of animals taking a moment to chill out or just have a great time. The theory of anthropomorphism (attribution of human characteristics to non-humans) is hotly debated. Traditional perceptions of nature have been of a harsh and unforgiving place where animals act instinctively and purely for survival. Balcombe , however, disagrees and is a firm believer in animal happiness - even suggesting that invertebrates can experience pleasure. To make his case, he draws on a wide variety of contented animals captured on camera as well his personal experiences, which gives the book a pleasantly personal touch. From polar bears engaging in a playful romp to Tufted Titmice indulging in a relaxing spot of sunbathing; Balcombe proves that animals aren’t always engaged in a battle for survival but will frequently do things for nothing more than the feeling of satisfaction.