February 12 marked the 200th birthday of two great humanitarians: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Both men hated slavery and inhumanity, and Darwin's attitudes fueled his theory of human evolution.
Now a present-day humanitarian and renowned scientist, Dr. Temple Grandin, explores how humans and animals evolved together in her new book, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals (Harcourt, 2009, with co-author Dr. Catherine Johnson). Animals "are part of who we are," Dr. Grandin writes, as she explains the core emotions that animals and humans share.
In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly said Dr. Grandin's new work is "packed with fascinating insights [and] unexpected observations," and "ably challenges assumptions about what makes animals happy."
Dr. Grandin teaches animal science at Colorado State University. She is acclaimed for her designs of humane animal handling facilities and advises the livestock industry and others on animal welfare issues. Her other books include Emergence, Thinking in Pictures, Genetics and Behavior of Domestic Animals, Humane Livestock Handling, and Animals in Translation.
Dr. Grandin also has autism, a condition that has contributed to her unique perspective on animal behavior. "Autism made school and social life hard, but it made animals easy," she wrote. She told neurologist Oliver Sacks that, around neurotypical people, she feels like an "anthropologist on Mars" -- a description that became the title for a Sacks bestseller. She has been honored for her tireless autism advocacy. HBO is now making a movie based on her life, Temple Grandin, with Claire Danes in the title role.
Dr. Grandin recently sat down at a University District caf