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Becoming Wild

How Animals Learn to be Animals

Carl Safina

New York Times Notable Book of 2020

‘Bracing and enlightening’ Science

Culture is something exclusive to human beings, isn’t it?

Not so, says intrepid researcher Carl Safina.

Becoming Wild reveals the rich cultures that survive in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. By showing how sperm whales, scarlet macaws and chimpanzees teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity, and how we’re all connected.

Becoming Wild demands that we wake up’ Telegraph

  • Publication date: April 7, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781786079633
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 384
  • Publication date: April 9, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786077240
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 384
  • Publication date: April 9, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786077257
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 384


‘[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.’


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

New York Times

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


‘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

Carl Safina

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.

Author page

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