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?

9781786079633 (7 Apr 2022)
RRP £10.99
9781786077240 (9 Apr 2020)
RRP £18.99

The Book

New York Times Notable Book of 2020

Deep reporting from nature

A bestselling author brings readers close to three non-human cultures: what they do, why they do it, and how life is for them.

How do animals raise families, communicate and solve conflicts?

It's easy to think culture is strictly a human phenomenon. But not so. This beautifully written book reveals cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth's remaining wild places. It shows how if you're a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you have traditions. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity, and how we're all connected.

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] bracing and enlightening book… Safina's writing on the watery depths and its denizens is sublime… [challenging] us to be more acutely aware of species whose social lives have much to teach us.'


‘In this superbly articulate cri de coeur, Safina gives us a new way of looking at the natural world that is radically different.'

- Washington Post

‘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

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

- Fortean Times

‘Fascinating… [Becoming Wild] gives the reader a sense of being near these creatures and experiencing some of the most seductive environments on Earth… Safina's prose achieves the elusive goal of being both informative and luminously evocative.'

- Wall Street Journal

‘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

‘Few readers will doubt that these magnificent creatures need urgent attention. Enthralling.'

- Kirkus, starred review

‘[Safina] turns the human view of animal cultures on its head… Becoming Wild demands that we wake up and realise that we are intrinsically linked to our other-than-human neighbours.'

- Telegraph

‘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