Book review: Quetting’s “Papa Goose”

For some reason I have started reading books about people who take care of animals. One of my favourites was Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg. It is a book about a researcher who trains an African Grey Parrot to speak to showcase its reasoning and thinking abilities. I don’t like the idea of animals in captivity but that book is really good evidence of how smart animals can be.

The book I just finished by Michael Quetting is Papa Goose, which is also a story about a researcher who raises seven Greylag Geese. This time the purpose of this endeavor is to strap small sensors onto geese, both to study them, their flight, and the weather. I thought the last motivation of studying the weather was kind of weird though, because I don’t think animals should be appropriated for helping us predict the weather.

The book itself is a quick and entertaining read. I wish I could raise a few geese, because it sounds like it really was an amazing experience. The author raised them from before hatching by talking to the eggs, to bringing them out to fly on his ultralight airplane.

The main part of the book is basically about how the author managed to live with seven geese in a trailer until they grew up and had to go live by themselves. During this time, the author almost transforms into a goose himself, reflecting on the differences between the human world and living with geese. I feel like I resonated with the author in that life these days for us is too complicated, and we would learn a lot if everyone had to raise geese.

I really enjoyed this book. Where it really left me wanting more was that there was very little detail of the science behind the study. Quetting and colleagues did manage to collect data from their sensors, but any conclusions and interesting facts from this data were just not in the book!

However, purely from the purposes of cuddly geese, I highly recommend reading this book.

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