Becoming Wild

Pages: 384
Subject: Popular Science, Science
Imprint: Oneworld

Becoming Wild

How Animals Learn to be Animals

Carl Safina

We tend to think of culture as being exclusively human, but do animals have it too?

9781786077240 (9 Apr 2020)
RRP £18.99

The Book

Who are we? What do we value? How do we live here?

Guided by parents, carers, teachers and siblings, we learn to answer these questions as we grow up. But it's not just us. Many animals must learn to answer them too. 

In Becoming Wild, Carl Safina reveals that culture, long thought exclusive to humankind, is abundant in the animal kingdom. Sperm whales in the Caribbean communicate through a system of clicks akin to Morse code, announcing which clan they belong to, which family and who they are individually. Among chimpanzees the obsession with male status may guarantee violence, even war, but they also have many ways to quell tensions. 

As Safina shows, the better we understand the animals with whom we share this planet, the less different from us they seem.

Additional Information

Subject Popular Science, Science
Pages 384
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Carl Safina is an award-winning science writer whose previous books include Song for the Blue Ocean and Beyond Words. He has written for the Guardian, New York Times, TIME and National Geographic, among others. He is the first Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University, and founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He lives on Long Island, New York, with his wife Patricia and their dogs and feathered friends.


‘A smorgasbord of compelling details . . . Becoming Wild could easily become a television series.'

- Fortean Times

'Carl Safina combines his passion for the natural world with absorbing, sometimes breathtaking prose, transporting us into the intimate, nuanced worlds of some of the planet's most charismatic beings.'

- Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows

'Eloquent. . .  This revelatory work sheds as much light on what it means to be human as it does on the nature of other species.'

- Publishers Weekly

‘Dr. Safina is a terrific writer, majestic and puckish in equal measure.'

- New York Times

‘[Safina] is a font of research, his wonder contagious.'

- Elle

'Safina puts forward several eye-opening and previously-overlooked implications of animal culture… a pleasure to read… another jewel in the crown of Safina's work that packs fascinating field studies, interesting theoretical ideas, soul-searching questions, and probing reflections on human and animal nature into a book that is as profound as it is moving.'

- Inquisitive Biologist

'Safina, the ecologist and author of many books about animal behavior, here delves into the world of chimpanzees, sperm whales and macaws to make a convincing argument that animals learn from one another and pass down culture in a way that will feel very familiar to us.'

- New York Times, 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2020