As a father, Jon Mooallem has watched his daughter's world overflow with animals from toys to her favorite butterfly pajamas. She has inspired him to venture into the field, often taking his daughter with him, to move beyond childlike fascination and make those creatures feel more real. Wild Ones is a tour through our environmental moment and the eccentric cultural history of people and wild animals in America that inflects it-from Thomas Jefferson's celebrations of early abundance to the turn-of the-last-century origins of the teddy bear to the whale-loving hippies of the 1970s. In America, Wild Ones discovers, wildlife has always inhabited the terrain of our imagination as much as the actual land. The journey is framed by the stories of three species: the polar bear, ogled by tourists outside a remote northern town; the little-known Lange's metalmark butterfly, foundering on a small patch of industrialized land near San Francisco; and the whooping crane as it's led on a months-long migration by costumed men in ultralight airplanes. The wilderness that Wild Ones navigates is a scrappy, disorderly place where amateur conservationists do grueling, sometimes preposterous-looking work; where a marketer maneuvers to control the polar bear's image while at the same time Martha Stewart turns up to film those beasts for her show on the Hallmark Channel. Our most comforting ideas about nature unravel and in their place, Mooallem forges a new and affirming vision of the human animal and the wild ones as kindred creatures on an imperfect planet. Wild Ones merges reportage, science, and history into a humane and endearing meditation on what it means to live in, and bring a life into today's world. Amy Standen is a producer for KQED Science. Book signing to follow.
My name is Jon Mooallem. I've been a Contributing Writer to the New York Times Magazine since 2006 and am also writer at large for Pop-Up Magazine, the live magazine, performed on stage, in San Francisco. I've contributed to This American Life, Harper's, Wired, The New Yorker, Radiolab and lots of other magazines and radio shows.