ZSL PhD student and author Daniella Rabaiotti is bringing together some of the UKs top names in zoology writing and broadcasting for a book event on the 15th of November at ZSL London Zoo. Here she explains why she chose to run an event based on the funnier side of the animal kingdom.
Last year I wrote this blog about my experiences becoming an author. Little did I know what was about to unfold. Since then, my first book ‘Does it Fart?’ has sold over 60,000 copies, becoming an international bestseller and launching us into the New York Times bestseller list. Not only that, but Does it Fart? is currently due to be released in over 15 countries worldwide and has even lead to a spin-off TV show. Our second book, ‘True or Poo?’, which aims to showcase gross, and amazing, animal facts, and set straight some common animal myths, was released last month. People have written to me about how our first book helped their child, dad, or even girlfriend, get interested in the animal kingdom. It turns out that there is a huge appetite for funny animal facts.
Throughout history people have made jokes about animals – literature dating back to the middle ages and beyond is full of animal based jokes. The internet is packed full of animal memes, from ‘lolcats’ to the more recent (and somewhat unlikely) proliferation of moth memes. Events such as the comedy wildlife photography awards and ZSL’s Roar with Laughter have been big hits. Yet the vast majority of writing and broadcasting around the natural world is very dry and serious.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. In other fields it is a well-established coping mechanism for dealing with bad news and grief, such as that which we feel when hearing about biodiversity loss and climate change. Studies have shown that constant negative messaging doesn’t motivate people to give more to conservation causes. Humour, on the other hand, can help us feel better about the state of the planet, and help us appreciate the natural world in all its weird, and often hilarious, majesty. When researching ‘Does It Fart?’ I found that no-one who studies animals doesn’t have at least one ridiculous, and hilarious, story to tell – from the primatologists who locate their study animals from the sound of their farts, to the parrot fish researcher who found that most of the sand in the Maldives has passed out of a parrotfish’s bum.
To celebrate this I have brought together the UK’s funniest natural history presenters and authors for a one of a kind event focusing on the funniest, and foulest, animal facts they have come across in their careers. Join myself, Lucy Cooke - presenter and author of The Unexpected Truth About Animals (nominated for the Royal Society Science Book Prize), Jules Howard - presenter and author of Sex on Earth and Death on Earth, and Darren Naish - host of the Tetrapod Zoology podcast and author of Dinosaurs: how they lived and evolved, among many other zoologically themed books, for an evening of fun, and sometimes foul, animal facts.
From stoned sloths to farting fish takes place at 18:00 on the 15th of November in the Huxley lecture theatre at ZSL London Zoo. Tickets are £5 and can be purchased below.
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