Balcombe, Jonathan (Jonathan P. Balcombe)

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Balcombe, Jonathan (Jonathan P. Balcombe)


Born in England; immigrated to the United States, 1987. Education: York University, B.S., 1983; Carleton University, M.S., 1987; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ph.D., 1991. Hobbies and other interests: Birdwatching, nature, biking, watercolor painting, piano, vegan cooking.


Office—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20016.


Biologist, writer. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Rockville, MD, researcher, 1991-93; Humane Society of the United States, Gaithersburg, MD, associate director for Education, 1993-2000; Immersion Medical, Gaithersburg, research coordinator, 2001-03; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, DC, senior research scientist, 2002—.


The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives, & Recommendations, Humane Society Press (Washington, DC), 2000.

Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to works by others, including Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, edited by M. Bekoff and C. Meaney, Greenwood (Westport, CT), 1998; A Primer on Animal Rights, edited by K. Stallwood, Lantern (New York, NY), 2002; From Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse, 2nd edition, edited by N. Jukes and M. Chiuia, InterNICHE (Leicester, England), 2003; and Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, edited by M. Bekoff, Greenwood (Westport, CT), 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Evolutionary Ecology, Canadian Field-Naturalist, Animal Behaviour, American Biology Teacher, Society & Animals, Laboratory Animals, British Medical Journal, Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Animals's Agenda, Alternatives in Veterinary Medical Education, AV, HSUS News, and Good Medicine. Author of the column "Beyond Animal Research" for the Web site of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and a blog for


Jonathan Balcombe is an animal behavior researcher who writes about his specialty for both academic and general readers. In his presentations in countries worldwide, he shares his views on alternatives to using animals in research and education.

Balcombe is also the author of books, including Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, in which he studies the scientific literature pertaining to the positive feelings experienced by animals, a subject often left undiscussed within the scientific community that relies primarily on observable behavior. He first defines pleasure and comments on its importance to the study of animals, then addresses various areas of pleasure, including food, touch, play, love, and sex. He notes that pleasure may contribute to natural selection, which is a reason why it is crucial to the survival of animals.

Commenting in BioScience, Marian Stamp Dawkins wrote: "It is a biologically fascinating area, and one that is profoundly important for our ethical treatment of animals. But I also think it should not be done at the cost of abandoning the scientific method altogether, or of underestimating the implications of the fact that we don't understand the physical basis of our own consciousness, let alone that of other species." A Publishers Weekly contributor described Pleasurable Kingdom as "a brisk, erudite and enormously entertaining contribution to the growing genre of books about the emotions of animals."

Balcombe told CA: "While writing is a joy for me, I am also driven to write by the injustices still heaped upon all the creatures who try to share this planet with us. Science is now revealing so much about animals' awareness and sensitivity, yet our treatment of them remains in the dark ages. The ethic of compassion is indivisible; as long as we continue to disregard the interests of animals, the various injustices within human societies will persist."



BioScience, January, 2007, Marian Stamp Dawkins, review of Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, p. 83.

Booklist, May 1, 2006, Nancy Bent, review of Pleasurable Kingdom, p. 58.

Hindu, January 11, 2007, "It Is Unethical to Harm Animals out of Scientific Curiosity"; January 19, 2007, Madhur Tankha, review of Pleasurable Kingdom.

Library Journal, May 1, 2006, Ann Forister, review of Pleasurable Kingdom, p. 115.

News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), August 21, 2006, Ellen Sung, "Look Who's Coming: Jonathan Balcombe" (interview).

Publishers Weekly, March 20, 2006, review of Pleasurable Kingdom, p. 50.

Times of India, January 24, 2007, review of Pleasurable Kingdom.


Animal Consultants International, (May 7, 2007), author's resume.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Web site, (May 7, 2007), biography.

Pleasurable Kingdom Web site, (May 7, 2007).

Popular Science Online, (May 7, 2007), Martin O'Brien, review of Pleasurable Kingdom.

Seattle Times Online, (November 1, 2006), Michael C. Bradbury, review of Pleasurable Kingdom.

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Balcombe, Jonathan (Jonathan P. Balcombe)

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