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The truth about animals isn’t always pretty

A new book digs up surprising stories about wildly misunderstood wildlife

By
8:00am, April 1, 2018

TRUE STORY  In The Truth About Animals, zoologist Lucy Cooke clears up misunderstandings about sloths and other creatures.

The Truth About Animals
Lucy Cooke
Basic Books, $28

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Pliny the Elder reported that hippopotamuses find relief from overeating by piercing their skin in a hippo version of bloodletting. Eventually, scientists learned that the oozing red stuff Pliny described isn’t even blood but a secretion that may have antibacterial and sun-blocking properties. While chasing down the truth for herself, Lucy Cooke scooped the goo from a hippo and smeared it on her own skin — if nothing else, her hand was “noticeably silkier,” she writes in The Truth About Animals.

Cooke, a zoologist and documentary filmmaker, has a storehouse of such tales of animal adventure. She’s also the

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