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Author David Toomey tries to figure out why animals play

As any English major knows, dream sequences are a staple of many great works of literature. They’re often used as a way to help the reader understand the inner workings of a character’s mind.

Professor David Toomey teaches English at UMass Amherst, but in his latest book, Toomey examines a real-life phenomenon that’s barely been studied at all: animal dreams.

For the book, “Kingdom of Play,” Toomey takes a deep dive into the fascinating world of ethology — the study of animal behavior. Like humans, animals do all sorts of things that don’t make rational sense, including dreaming and plain old goofing around.

Toomey spoke with The Show about the three forms of play that ethologists have identified in animals.

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Sam Dingman is a reporter and host for KJZZ’s The Show. Prior to KJZZ, Sam was the creator and host of the acclaimed podcast Family Ghosts.