The Pig Who Sang To The Moon

ISBN: 0099285746
ISBN 13: 9780099285748
By: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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About this book

This is a book about farm animals - chickens, cows, sheep and goats - and what they think and feel. As with his previous bestsellers on animal emotions, Jeffrey Masson reveals that these creatures, so often despised or abused, feel complex emotions - among them love, loyalty, friendship, sadness, grief and sorrow.The domesticated animals which live on our farms are very little removed from their wild ancestors, and keep the emotions that belong to those animals when they lived free. This means that the confinement farm animals are subjected to is painful and that those enduring factory farm conditions are suffering little less than torture.Thinking about the wild ancestors of farm animals allows us to answer many questions that were once considered unanswerable. Those answers, however uncomfortable, are at last providing insights into the personalities and needs of the animals on whom we depend.

Reader's Thoughts

Mary Crabtree

From the author who wrote When Elephants Weep. Masson turns from exotic wild animals to farm animals and through anecdotal experience makes you consider the lives we commit animals to in standard farm practices. I think it's a book that can make one consider vegetarianism but it also is a book that gives consideration to those people who don't want to change their protein sources but may be able to see how much humane farming practices can add to the life of animals. I really liked it and especially liked the story of the "pig who sang to the moon".


Let me preface this review by saying that after a decade of working with all sorts of animals, I fervently believe that most, if not all vertebrates, possess the same complexity of emotions that humans beings are blessed with. I believe that what we do to farm animals is tortuous and cruel and that humane farming MUST be a part of our plan for the future.....but this book is horrible. Even agreeing wholeheartedly with his point of view, I found him infuriating. If you do not wholeheartedly agree with him, you will utterly and outright dismiss the point he is trying to get across. Masson uses no scientific data or studies, even going so far as to make a point of saying how uncomfortable it made him to call a herd someone's cows because no living being can be rightfully owned. Garrr!Read Dominion and don't bother with this book. Seriously. Particularly if you have mixed emotions about the topic because you will not be able to really examine the issue at hand and will assume all animal rights activists are lunatics.

Joy Carson

For anyone who loves farm animals and knows they are thinking , feeling beings.

Moira Clunie

if i were to give you a reading list to help you understand why i'm vegan, this book would be on it. when i first read these stories, i'd been vegetarian for more than a decade and had already stopped eating dairy and eggs. even so, the book completely changed my perspective on pigs and other farmed animals, animal rights and compassion as a reason for vegetarianism. comparing the situation of farmed pigs, cows, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens with animals in sanctuaries and similar species in the wild, masson illustrates the effect of farming practices on animals' behavioural range and emotional lives. his argument is not anthropomorphic, but simply assumes that an animal is happy when it can live according to its nature; the institution of animal agriculture doesn't allow for animals to follow their instincts and express normal behaviours. chickens like to dust-bathe, cows like to raise their baby calves. one particular pig who lives in a beach community north of auckland likes belly scratches and singing to the moon. i'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the wellbeing of animals, and especially anyone who cares about animals but eats animal products.

Lisa Bennett

I really enjoyed reading this book because it is anecdotal. Sometimes our understanding of animals comes from what we know instinctively; from our interactions and experiences with them. This is something that science really cannot measure. We can never *know* what a member of another species is thinking or feeling - we can only guess based on their actions. I think it is the arrogant fool who assumes that because they cannot understand the thoughts and feelings of a different species, or because science cannot define them, that they do not exist. For those willing to see, I think animals can and do communicate with us in very obvious ways.I did learn some new things about the behaviours of farmed animals discussed in this book, but mostly it just affirmed what I believe - that they are individuals with moral value, emotions and desire to live a live free of the cruelties that we inflict on them. If you are looking for a lot of scientific studies and irrefutable facts, you will probably find better sources than this book. But for those that can accept animals for who they are, there are some wonderful observations within these pages.

Lisa Vegan

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I often don’t like animal rights books with little anecdotal stories because I’m afraid they won’t be believable. But I loved all the stories of the animals in this book. It’s not a gruesome hard hitting type of book and can be enjoyed by everyone, in my opinion.


I might have to seriously consider going vegetarian, or vegan. The animals (or their by-products, such as eggs, milk and cheese) we eat are put through torturous procedures to fatten them up, or to make them produce more eggs and milk than is natural. Not to mention, that eating animal fats in any form is not good for you.But this book is also about the emotions of animals, namely cows and pigs, chickens, ducks and geese, to name a few.Not my usual kind of book, by far, but I found it quite interesting.

Russell Warfield

Significantly less robust and more anecdotal and speculative than I was expecting it to be, and often to its detriment when he lapses into wild non sequiturs, denting an 'argument' which never really takes shape. At several points, it feels as if a more fitting title would be something more like 'I Have Spent Some Time With Cows'. Having said that, taken for what it is, it's a charming piece of observation and empathy, with many of its disquieting passages supporting my recent decision to go vegan this new year - particularly in relation to dairy cows. Also redemptive it its more philosophical, concluding chapters which speak more self consciously and unashamedly from the heart, while bringing up some interesting concepts. If like me you were expecting a research-led investigation into the emotional life of animals, offering some verifiable conclusions from which we could draw some clear sighted ethical conclusions, this isn't it. But taken as a personal meditation on Masson's experiential knowledge of the subject, it's a fine enough read. And as a lot of other user reviews would appear to attest, a lot of readers are moved and convinced by its fevered tone, presumably resulting in a good number of new veggie/vegan recruits, so it's also to be commended for that of course, if nothing else!

Ira Therebel

In our time people still deny that animals are having emotions, especially when it comes to farm animals. Here even people who think that their dog feels emotions prefer to turn away and not think of them as living beings.My issue with this book is that I was hoping for more research. There is some included, but not enough. This isn't really author's fault. Most research on animal emotions I read didn't involve farm animals, who as I said in my paragraph are usually set aside and ignored. Other than that I enjoyed the anecdotes as well as his conversations with a variety of people. They are not all for animal rights, many are meat eaters, farmers so it isn't just a collection of opinions of people who all think alike. Again, though I wish there was more done in animal behavior science on this topic.I still really liked the book. I don't think it is good at all to convince anyone whose mind is set otherwise. But I already agree with him, so for me it was simply a great book on observations of animal behavior. and I did learn more about chickens and ducks, since birds are usually not what I read too much about

Tracy Ann

Nice style of writing, easy to read, and interesting! It appeals to all ages, and makes you think.


Life changing. I returned to being veg overnight after reading this. Went vegan several months later. Grateful it exists.


This 2003 book by Masson, author of When Elephants Weep, is pretty self-explanatory. The author gives much anecdotal evidence that pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, goats, and ducks have much more to them than meets the eye - especially these animals that "live" (that may be too strong of a word) on factory farms. Warning: reading this book may lead to vegetarianism! For myself, I was eating vegetarian most of the time with exceptions allowed on occasion. Masson inspired me to eliminate those exceptions!


More like a collection of one off incidences and seemingly scientific proofs without any proper statistics nor citing of source.


The subtitle says it all. After reading this, I doubt I will ever eat flesh again. I already knew of the terrors of factory farming, but this takes it to a whole new level with countless tales about how emotional animals are. My favorite: a woman had a pet pig who lived with her inside her house. The woman had a heart attack or something. The pig squeezed himself through the doggy-door (losing some bacon along the way), went out the road and played dead in the middle of the street in order to stop a car. He then brought the driver back to the house to save the lady. wow. Unless you're like me - obsessed with living on a farm and having a pet cow - this book is probably overkill (no pun intended).


This is not at all what I was expecting from the warm and fuzzy title. It is moralistic, and academic in the sense that it is full of references. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. I was expecting anecdotal tales about animals being anthromophized. I could not have been further from the real content. It is about how humans treat animals (poorly in this author's opinion.) I think it is best for vegetarians.

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