31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched

Kicked Bitten and ScratchedKicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World’s Premier School for Exotic Animal TrainersKicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers by Amy Sutherland by Amy Sutherland

An engrossing look at what goes on in the premier school for animal training – Sutherland brings you along and lets you vicariously experience what it’s like to learn to care for and train animals of all sorts.

I’ve never had any desire to work in a zoo or train animals to star on TV or in movies, so I never once felt twinges of “wish I had gone there and done that” (as opposed to reading accounts of culinary school in Paris, where I could almost wish I’d experienced that beyond the pages of the book.) Nevertheless, I was captivated by the program and how they teach their students all that goes into the jobs they think they want.

If you’re a soft-hearted animal lover, you may not like this book – she pulls no punches at times, such as describing how some of the carnivorous animals get fed. Hint: it’s not a good time to be a pigeon. A caveat if you’re debating if the book is for you.

Publisher’s Description:
A rare and absolutely enchanting look inside the Harvard of wild animal wranglers

As is obvious to anyone who has read her most e-mailed New York Times article of 2006, “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,” Amy Sutherland knows a thing or two about animals. In Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, she takes readers behind the gates of Moorpark Community College, where students are taught such skills as how to train a hyena to pirouette and coax a tiger to open wide for a vet exam. As she follows the faculty, student body, and four- footed teaching aides at Moorpark’s Exotic Animal Training and Management program, Sutherland produces a true walk on the wild side, filled with wonder, comedy, occasional heartache, and transcendent beauty.

31 Days of Great NonfictionI haven’t read it, but Sutherland has also spun her experiences at Moorpark into a companion work, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their TrainersWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland. I’ve read the New Yorker article that sparked this (slim) book, and it has me very enthusiastic about reading the book.

Also, in the comments section of my recent post about the book Ungarnished Truth, someone recommended Sutherland’s book Cookoff: Recipe Fever in AmericaCookoff: Recipe Fever in America by Amy Sutherland. I definitely want to read that soon, because she had great things to say about it, and it sounds like one I’ll like.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


  1. This sounds like an interesting read. I never thought about the training that animal trainers need to go through. Thanks for the pick.

    • I hadn’t really thought about it either, and certainly didn’t realize there was a community college that focused on it.


  1. […] Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched by Amy Sutherland […]

  2. […] Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched by Amy Sutherland […]

Leave a Comment