Animal Smarts


48 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-895688-67-1
DDC j591.51





Illustrations by Pat Stevens
Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the former executive director of the Canadian Museum
of Nature.


Animal Smarts is a broad and zesty overview of animal intelligence.
Drawing on current and diverse research, Funston presents many aspects
of behavior in species ranging from octopuses and bees to whales,
primates, and birds, including Alex, the famous African gray parrot.
Topics include brain size, memory, social effects, and problem solving.
Particularly valuable are the sections on counting, transitivity, and
the use of tools, signs, and symbols. The material on domestic pets
helps to anchor behavior to familiar animals. Many issues in animal
intelligence, such as instinct and thinking, remain problematic, even in
writing for the young, who may well ask difficult questions at this

Funston style is direct and conversational, and the amount of
information she packs into the tight text is astonishing. The
user-friendly format and color photographs and drawings add to the
book’s appeal. The picture of a robotic bee is especially valuable for
indicating an experimental method. While there is an index, a list of
further reading would have been welcome. Highly recommended.


Funston, Sylvia., “Animal Smarts,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,