Margo DeMello on Stories Rabbits Tell

This week’s show should be excellent. Rabbits are amazing animals; find out why.

Who: Margo Demello, co-author of the book Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature.

What: (from the Lantern Books website) Susan E. Davis and Margo DeMello explore the relationship between rabbits and people throughout time, from the perspectives of natural history, cultural anthropology and the current debate over animal consciousness.

More Info: (Lantern Books) Revered as a symbol of fertility, sexuality, purity and childhood, beloved as a children’s pet and widely represented in the myths, art and collectibles of almost every culture, the rabbit is one of the most popular animals known to humans. Ironically, it has also been one of the most misunderstood and abused. Indeed, the rabbit is the only animal that our culture adores as a pet, idolizes as a storybook hero and slaughters for commercial purposes.

Stories Rabbits Tell takes a comprehensive look at the rabbit as a wild animal, ancient symbol, pop culture icon, commercial “product” and domesticated pet. In so doing, the book explores how one species can be simultaneously adored as a symbol of childhood (think Peter Rabbit), revered as a symbol of female sexuality (e.g., Playboy Bunnies), dismissed as a “dumb bunny” in domesticity and loathed as a pest in the wild. The authors counter these stereotypes with engaging analyses of real rabbit behavior, drawn both from the authors’ own experience and from academic studies, and place those behaviors in the context of current debates about animal consciousness. In a detailed investigative section, the authors also describe conditions in the rabbit meat, fur, pet and vivisection industries, and raise important questions about the ethics of treating rabbits as we do.

The first book of its kind, Stories Rabbits Tell provides invaluable information and insight into the life and history of an animal whom many love, but whom most of us barely know. As such, it is a key addition to the current thinking on animal emotions, intelligences and welfare, and the way that human perceptions influence the treatment of individual species.

Listen right now:

or download an mp3 of the show.

About the authors:

Margo DeMello is the President and Executive Director of the House Rabbit Society, an international rabbit rescue and education organization. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and is the author of Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community. She has been rescuing animals for twelve years, and is a nationally known expert on rabbit behavior, lecturing and giving interviews on the topic around the country.

Award-winning journalist and editor Susan E. Davis has written for a wide range of publications, including Sports IllustratedMademoiselleThe Nation and The Washington Post. Her previous books include The Sporting Life and Baby Play. She is a national educator with the House Rabbit Society and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two children, two rabbits and miscellaneous other small creatures.

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