Talk to the Animals

For animal lovers, there may be no one more heroic than Dr. Dolittle, the title character of Hugh Lofting’s charming children’s books and Richard Fleischer’s schmaltzy movie (one of my childhood favorites). Dolittle’s patients are people, at first, until they get fed up with his growing number of house pets — rabbits, mice, pigeons, a duck, an owl, and a baby pig, among others. (One lady inadvertently sits on a hedgehog sleeping on the sofa.)

Soon Dolittle has major money troubles, and is squandering his savings on food and care for all those animals. The future is bleak. Then one morning his parrot, Polynesia, teaches him how to speak bird. After some study, he can understand all

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