Zoobiquity: Humans’ Unprecedented Link with Animals

Humans and animals share more than you might imagine according to a research study called Zoobiquity. The results suggest that veterinarians and medical doctors should collaborate to cures illnesses and find new scientific advances.

Professor of Cardiology of Medicine Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and journalist Kathryn Bowers talked to college students in the Clausen Hall Building on May 13, 2015 about their book entitled “Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health.”

The term “Zoobiquity” originates from the creation of two different languages. “Zoo,” which is the Greek word for animal, and “ubiquity,” which is Latin for everywhere. The authors created a word from two different languages to represent the similarities between human and animal medicine.

Natterson-Horowitz, a cardiologist at UCLA for over 20 years, has had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles Zoo and conduct cardiac ultrasounds on animals with cardiovascular problems.

“Until I went to the zoo, all I knew about veterinarian medicine was what I learned at medical school, which was that the primary connection between animal and human health was infectious diseases such as pathogens like rabies, Ebola and the West Nile Virus,” Natters-Horowitz said. “But I when I was going to the zoo, I was hearing veterinarians talking about diabetes and anxiety disorder and breast cancer and leukemia and arthritis and concussions. I started wondering how is it that despite practicing medicine for 20 years I had no idea that there was a parallel universe, dealing with the same conditions that I have encountered with human patients at UCLA.”

The book includes chapters such as “Roar-gasm,” “Fat Planet,” and “The Koala and the Clap.” Natterson-Horowitz and co-author Kathryn Bowers examine many similarities and differences between species like sex patterns, obesity and diseases that are not only psychological but physiological as well.

Overconsumption of food, for example, is not unique to humans.

“There is a lot we can learn about eating from just looking at how animals eat. In one of our chapters we decided to look at obesity,” Bowers said. “We learned that there are a number of animal species that will over-consume when they are stressed or under-consume like humans.”

After the panel discussions, members from the audience asked the authors questions about possible topics linked with both animals and humans such as individualism, mental illnesses, disabilities and even homosexuality.

“Zoobiquity is a new take on comparative science that has happened for a long time,” Bowers said. “So the idea of looking at animals and humans together is not brand new, but zoobiquty has a new way of looking at behavioral and body health.”

Through “Zoobiquity,” scientists can use profound research to see a common connection between living things. As technology advances, the link between humans and animals can possibly identify and treat patients no matter what species or animal kingdom they belong to. There are annual conferences on “Zoobiquity,” happening every year.

Alexandra Maeck, chair of the LACC College Book Program says she is grateful for the writers and scientists who have opened students’ eyes to a new subject.

“Science writers tend to be generous and enthusiastic about their research,” Maeck said. “We have had some of the best writers visit this semester. Students can see that scientists are people too, but they ask a lot of questions and they are really passionate and curious in what they love.”


“Zoobiquity” was written in 2012 and continues to attract readers. Some awards include being a “New York Times” bestseller, “Discover Magazine” best book of 2012, “China Times” 2013 best book for translated title and award finalist for “AAAS Science Book.”

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