Five Questions with Marc Bekoff


February 25, 2013

Dr. Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. He’s written numerous books in his discipline, has been on television many times, and is considered one of the foremost writers in the realm of animal welfare. He was also kind enough to write the foreword for my co-edited book, A Faith Embracing All Creatures (which, automatically, makes it even more awesome-er)
Check Marc out at his blog as well as at his shared page with our oh-so best representative we’ve had in our species in a long, long time: the lovely Jane Goodall (Ethological Ethics).


1-Please, for the love of all things good, beautiful and true–end this debate between me and my fiancee (who is a zoologist no less, so I realize I should defer to her authority). Which is cuter? Baby rhinos or cuttlefish?

 Instead of asking “Which is cuter?” I’d ask “WHO is cuter?” for a starter, and you know why I’m making this change! Both rhinos and cuttlefish are sentient beings, so they’re “whos” not “whiches” or “thats”. Now that the mini-academic lecture is done, I’d say they’re both cute and that cuteness is surely in the eyes of the beholder. 


2-If you were to do a revised edition of The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding our Compassion Footprint, and decided to add a 7th reason, what would it be?

 We’re screwed if we don’t.


3-Jane Goodall wrote a foreword for one of your books (The Emotional Lives of Animals), and you wrote a foreword for one of my books (A Faith Embracing All Creatures). Does that mean Jane and I are now good buddies?

For some reason this reminds me of the fallacy of the undifferentiated middle: All dogs are mammals, all cats are mammals, therefore, all dogs are cats.  Now, being serious for a millisecond, if you’re a nice and compassionate person, then I’d imagine you and Jane could be friends, but that would, of course, be up to her.


4-Speaking of Jane Goodall, you co-authored The Ten Trusts with her. Do you consider this book to be a “decalogue” of animal ethics?

 In many ways I do. Just like the six reasons I offered for expanding our compassion footprint in The Animal Manifesto, the 10 trusts we offer set the stage for a more compassionate and peaceful world for all beings. 


5-Since you’re an ethologist, I was wondering if you might answer this particularly perplexing question: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because it was there!




For some reason, I just can’t get away from placing hardcore tunes with these kind of interviews. To quote Ian MacKaye, “And why not?”

This one was tricky. I could have chosen any number of bands with a love of all creatures big and small. Bands such as: Good Clean Fun, Earth Crisis, Propagandhi, Gorilla Biscuits, Oi Polloi, Goldfinger, Anti-Flag, Chokehold, Good Riddance, Citizen Fish and freakin’ Youth of Today (ah, “No More!”). After much inner debate, I finally went with the little ditty below. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Rise Against. They are just too darn pretty for me. Pretty. But, in their defense, it is a lovely video. And the three seconds between 2:35-2:37 helps me with my own weakness. So, here you go. And maybe, with any luck, Christian theologians/ethicists (or whatever silly titles they assume for themselves these days) will actually do some work in an area of which they could make a difference. An actual substantial, tangible difference.

Imagine that.

(I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. I’m not sure have the necessary imaginative capabilities.)