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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Mar 23, 2023

The news about wildlife is dire — more than 900 species have been wiped off the planet since industrialization. Against this bleak backdrop, however, there are also glimmers of hope and crucial lessons to be learned from animals that have defied global trends toward extinction. Bear in Italy, bison in North America, whales in the Atlantic. These populations are back from the brink, some of them in numbers unimaginable in a century. How has this happened? What shifts in thinking did it demand?

Drawing on compelling personal stories from the researchers, Indigenous people, and activists who know the creatures best, writer and professor Christopher Preston weaves together a gripping narrative of how some species are taking back vital, ecological roles. Observing different landscapes — farms, prairies, rivers, forests, oceans — Preston offers a philosophical shift in how humans ought to think about animals, passionately advocating for the changes in attitude necessary for wildlife recovery.

Tenacious Beasts touches on different facets of ecological restoration from Indigenous knowledge to rewilding practices, and offers a road map — and a measure of hope — for a future in which humans and animals can once again coexist.

Christopher J. Preston is a writer and professor based in Missoula, MT. His work at the University of Montana centers on wildlife, technology, and climate change. His new book, Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think About Animals investigates a number of species back from the brink of extinction. He meets the scientists, indigenous leaders, and activists responsible for their return and uncovers what these tenacious species have to teach.

Christopher has written for The AtlanticSmithsonian MagazineDiscoverThe Conversation, Aeon,, and the BBC. His award-winning book, The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World, has been translated into six languages. He also gives talks in state parks, libraries, and breweries across Montana to campers and other audiences interested in conservation and technology. In early 2023, he won an annual award from the International Society for Environmental Ethics for his work as a public philosopher.

Tenacious Beasts
Third Place Books