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Prologue

As a joke, Jessica Williamson posts a fake “CAT FOUND” poster with pictures of a possum instead of a cat. To her surprise, she gets hundreds of phone calls that ultimately shift her view on humanity.

Prologue

Ira goes out birding with birder extraordinaire Noah Strycker, who tells the dramatic story of the bird that changed his life: the turkey vulture.

Act One: Don’t Chicken Out

Carmen Milito tells Ira the story of a date she went on as a teenager, and the bird her mom brought to the occasion.

Prologue

Linda Lutton and her eleven year old daughter Pirecua explain what happened the year Pirecua begged for a gift that she turned out to be allergic to. Linda is a reporter at our home station, WBEZ Chicago.

Act Two: A Notion Apart

Producer Lilly Sullivan used to feel such a strong kinship with “the loneliest creature on earth” that one of her first radio pieces seven years ago was about him. (9 minutes) You can read Lilly's 2013 report about this whale.

Act One: The Youth In Asia

When a pet dies, to what degree can it be replaced by another? And to what degree can pets replace people in our lives? David Sedaris tells this story of cats and dogs and other animals.

Act Two: Polly Wants More Than A Cracker

Veronica Chater explains the conflict in her house between her love for her pet macaw—a kind of parrot—and her love for her husband and three kids. The macaw wreaks a sort of low-level chaos in the house, because it wants Veronica all to itself.

Act Four: Resurrection

Writer Brady Udall with another story about what animals can take the place of, in our lives and in our homes—this one involving an armadillo. This work of fiction originally appeared in the Autumn 1999 issue of Story magazine.

Act One: Beaching and Moaning

Even when an animal is not a pest, not chewing up homes or spreading disease or biting average citizens, even when it is universally loved, it can still wreak havoc when it arrives in our world. James Spring has this example from a community of harbor seals in La Jolla, California, near San Diego.

Act Three: Weeknight at Bernie's

In Anchorage, many people take pride in being able to co-exist side-by-side with wild animals. Jon Mooallem has the story of one animal that became a resident of the city in a way that few non-humans ever do.