Our Symphony with Animals: On Health, Empathy, and Our Shared Destinies By Aysha Akhtar, M.D.
From All-Creatures.org Book, CD and Video Review Guide

Author: Aysha Akhtar, M.D.

Reviews by: Frans de Waal, Jonathan Balcombe, Sy Montgomery, Marc Bekoff, Kirkus Reviews

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Aysha Akhtar
Available on Pegagsus Books and Barnes and Noble
ISBN: 9781643130705.
Release date: May 7, 2019


“In her collection of heart-warming and gut-wrenching stories, Dr. Akhtar draws an indisputable connection between humans and animals. The narrative format of the book provides a beautiful backdrop to the scientific- and research-based information she provides. If anyone ever doubted that animals hold a special place in our hearts, this book would call their beliefs into question...The personal stories are intertwined with research from around the globe, producing a non-fiction book that feels just as compelling and engaging as a fiction novel.”
Vegetarian Resource Group VRG

“In her eye-opening and touching account, Aysha Akhtar takes us from one example to another of animals making our lives better. Being there for us without judgement regardless of the circumstances, animals have an immense healing power that science is only beginning to grasp.”
—Frans de Waal, author of Mama’s Last Hug; Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

“This is a superb, captivating book. Combining memoir, investigative journalism, and science, Aysha Akhtar has produced a marvelous exploration of our troubled, evolving relationship with animals. Themes of vulnerability, injustice, redemption, and love are woven into a moving narrative that drew me in and kept me hungrily turning the pages. “
—Jonathan Balcombe, author of What A Fish Knows

"Our Symphony with Animals is a beautiful, compassionate, and important book. Dr. Akhtar deftly weaves her personal and professional experiences into the scientific story of how humans are designed to bond with animals--and the cost, to us and to the rest of animate creation, of breaking that bond. Her wonderful book is at once intimate and global, and its message is crucial: empathy with our fellow animals is vital for the health of humans and non-humans alike.”
—Sy Montgomery, author of How To Be A Good Creature

"In her deeply personal and highly readable book, full of stories that surely will move readers all over the place, Dr. Aysha Akhtar seamlessly weaves humorous and touching moments along with the latest research on animal-human relationships. She shows why the development of close relationships with other animals that are filled with trust, respect, compassion, empathy, and love are mutually beneficial and a win-win for all. Highly recommended for a global audience."
Marc Bekoff, co-author of The Animals; Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age

"An impassioned and moving argument that empathy with animals deeply affects humans' health….a heartfelt call for compassion for all living species."
—Kirkus Reviews

Excerpt from her book as Aysha posted on Facebook:

With all the recent attention to Ted Bundy, in my book I take a different look at a serial killer. Through my conversations & meeting with Keith Jesperson, who brutally murdered 8 women, I also find surprising moments of humanity. What led to this duality? Find out! From Our Symphony With Animals, chapter 4:

“Did you ever hear a deer cry?” Jesperson asks me, suddenly switching topics.

“No. I didn’t know they could.”

“Deer will actually cry and bawl. . . . You ever hear a rabbit cry?”


“A rabbit will scream, will actually cry or scream.

“Tell me about the deer you heard cry.”

“When I shot the deer, I shot too high and too forward. I had to hunt that deer down for hours before I could get another shot and kill him. It was bawling. It was crying. That’s how I tracked it, because it was crying over the fact that the arrow had gone into the shoulder blade and didn’t go through any vitals. It was limping around on one leg. Sooner or later a coyote would have gotten it or something, but I had to track that deer for hours before I could finally get a good shot at it to put the deer down. I refused to go hunting for deer after that, I just refused to. I refused to go hunting for elk and deer after that happened in Canada in the fall of ’82.”

“Why do you think this affected you?”

“Because I actually heard him cry. I went out there thinking they don’t make sounds, so it’s okay. Hearing the deer bawl was sickening. That moment I heard him and heard that they actually have a voice.”

About the Author:

Aysha Akhtar, M.D. is a double Board-Certified in both Neurology and Preventive Medicine and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She serves as Medical Officer for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration, for which she has Top Secret Security Clearance. She is an Officer (Lieutenant Commander) in the U.S. Public Health Services, in which she deploys to assist with national public health emergencies. She is also a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and is a Consultant Editor for the Journal of Animal Ethics. She is the author of Animals and Public Health and lives in Maryland.

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