Check It Out: Learn how animals rate, and a few things about deathDecember 1, 2019
• “Animals Reviewed: Starred Ratings of Our Feathered, Finned, and Furry Friends,” by Association of Zoos & Aquariums (Timber Press, 179 pages)
When you want to buy a new refrigerator or dishwasher, it’s always a good idea to review the ratings in Consumer Reports. If you want to find a good hotel or try out a new restaurant, you’ll probably search Yelp or Trip Advisor for customer ratings and reviews. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s going to be a review for it somewhere because this is what humans do: we rank, score, like, badge and star anything and everything.
No wonder then that the Association of Zoos & Aquariums decided to jump on the rating bandwagon as well. After all, having a way to assess a new arrival could be very helpful … or very funny. “Animals Reviewed: Starred Ratings of Our Feathered, Finned, and Furry Friends” is a delightful, tongue-in-cheek collection of species ratings created by AZA and other conservation organizations.
Here’s just a sample of the wittiness. I don’t know if you remember my recently acquired obsession with beavers (here’s another plug for “Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter” by Ben Goldfarb — it’s wonderful!), but I have to share the Oregon Zoo’s five-star rating of the American Beaver: “So Much Fun — Cuts through standing water like butter. Perfect for lakes and ponds. Setup is easy, and it won’t flip. Variable speed. No mount for GoPro.” Another favorite of mine is about an animal I’ve never heard of — a Sichuan takin — but he sounds like a very interesting fellow. From the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y.: “Not As Described — Still not sure what I purchased — resembles a combination of a goat and a moose? The ears appear to be installed upside down. Climbed up on the roof and won’t come down.”
Take a look for your favorite wild animal and see if it rates enough to be included in this humorous read. For all you gardeners out there, the Slender-tailed meerkat: “Five stars — Excellent Product. Dug the holes I needed (and some I didn’t realize I needed) in an hour and a half. Bonus: haven’t seen a bug in days. Highly recommended.”
• “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death,” by Caitlin Doughty (W.W. Norton, 222 pages)
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” — Woody Allen
OK. So, we’re all going to die — someday. Bummer. Well, there’s no point in getting all gloomy about it, but it might be wise to ask some questions before that day arrives. How do I make a will? How do I pre-plan for my funeral or memorial service? If I die alone in my house, will my cat eat my eyeballs?
Whether you want to admit it or not, you’ve…