What Animals Can Teach Us About Love

There is a delightful new book, Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals, written by Laurie Zaleski, who runs the Funny Farm Animal Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary located in southern New Jersey. The book weaves a remarkable narrative about animals that – get this – get along, and often much better than their human counterparts.

Among the current Funny Farm residents, we learn of a goose named Airplane who follows Emily the emu wherever Emily goes. Jethro the donkey hangs out with Lorenzo the llama. Cooper the alpaca found his soulmate in Yogi the steer.

Okay, there are notable exceptions in the wild to the placid utopia found on the Funny Farm. Some predatory and territorial animals wouldn’t necessarily warm up to a friendly cottontail rabbit seeking cross-species companionship. A ravenously hungry mountain lion couldn’t be counted on to lie down with a docile lamb, per the apocryphal biblical image.

But the lesson gleaned from Zaleski’s insightful book is that many animals can and do get along, and they often behave better than some humans. We can similarly learn from such animal bondings to “love one another” even if others are vastly different from us. By overlooking those vast differences, we could turn our current human funny farm into a more paradisiacal home for us all.

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