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Q & A: The Faces Behind the Numbers

Books showcase the side of farm animals the public rarely sees

A New York City bus may seem like an odd place to start thinking about farm animals, but that’s where Amy Hatkoff was when she spied a sign depicting their suffering. It prompted an “aha moment,” she says, steering her to write about animal welfare for the first time.

Across the country in California, a similar idea hatched as Diane Leigh watched her friend Marilee Geyer’s chickens frolic in a yard, strutting and scratching and clucking and cooing. Leigh commented that people would be amazed to see the animals in such a happy state.

From those epiphanies have emerged two books that show the beauty of farm animals, highlighting their intellectual and emotional complexities and subtly making a case against the inhumane practices of factory farms.

Hatkoff’s The Inner World of Farm Animals: Their Amazing Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Capacities, published last year, shares a similar format with Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs, edited by Geyer, Leigh, and Windi Wojdak and published this May. Both feature striking photos of pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, roosters, and other animals in natural settings, accompanied by stories of their rescues.

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