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Build Me an Ark:
A Life with Animals
This is the story of a life and spirit guided by animals. Brenda Peterson was raised in the High Sierras on a national forest lookout station, and wildlife had a daily, defining influence on her life. Peterson explores her deep connection with animals, from watching grizzlies in Montana's Rockies, to keeping Siberian huskies as pets in New York City, to her work for the restoration of wild wolves. Her lively storytelling bridges the worlds of human and animal, as she fascinates us with intimate stories of her studies of wild dolphins, whales, and orcas. Peterson reveals how animal bonds have enriched her life and led her toward a wider epiphany: As a species we cannot live without other animals.


Praise for Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals
"A lifelong love of animals combined with a jeweler’s eye for multifaceted philosophical meanings provide Peterson with a wealth of fascinating anecdotes and insights in this engaging memoir."
--Publishers Weekly

"The story of a life and spirit guided by animals . . . Build Me an Ark is based in science and very well written."

"Peterson is an engaging, persuasive storyteller . . . Compassionate stories that will surely delight the animal lover . . . A fine addition to the literature on humane natural history"
--Science Books & Films
"It is such empathy for both humans and the natural world that sets this remarkable author apart."
--Bloomsbury Review

"A Peterson essay can take off like a flock of birds . . . She sings to us about ourselves."
"Each passionate story examines the way humans commune or collide with the natural world, so that a pearl of wisdom is always found beneath the surface. Peterson writes with spiritual maturity and environmental authority." Spirituality editor

"Brenda Peterson fashions a sturdy ark of words and images that convince us that we must look out for these fellow travelers and carry them high in our love and esteem."
Spirituality and Health magazine, Selected as a "Best Spiritual Book of 2001"

Listen to an NPR interivew with the author on "The Beat" with Megan Sukys (Seattle's KUOW station)
Brenda and Mauyak, Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma, WA
One of my favorite stories in BUILD ME AN ARK is about the lone, sociable and wild beluga named Wilma who was adopted by an devoted village in Nova Scotia.
One of the reasons I believe that all marine mammals should be left in the wild, is becasue of my first encounter with a captive whale. A beautiful beluga whale, Mauyak with whom I visited several times. Her story is excerpted below from the book EDGEWALKING ON THE WESTERN RIM: New Works by 12 Northwest Writers 
Update: In 2015, Mauyak is in her late twenties and and has given birth to her fifth calf, three of whom are still living with her. She is at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
This chapter from BUILD ME AN ARK "Domestic Happiness with Dogs" was excerpted in BARK magazine and tells the story of my first huskies in New York City and Colorado. I continue to be devoted to Siberian huskies and have walked with my "nieces" Lulu and Ella for the past ten years every day here in Seattle.
Brenda with Ella, 2015
There are so many animals portrayed in BUILD ME AN ARK—from dolphins to humpbacks to wolves; and domestic animals who share our daily lives, a popular chapter is "Cats in the Rain Shadow." It's the astonishing story of two Siamese cat brothers who find each other again after many years. And here are my resident cats, daily muses—Tao, the golden-eyed Tuxedo black cat and his brother, Loki, the turquoise-eyed Siamese.
LISTEN TO A BOOK-IN-PROGRESS as I work with acclaimed photographer, Annie Marie Musselman, on a photo-essay book about the wolves of Wolf Haven for Sasquatch Press. Here's our howl with them in July, 2015.