posted by Megan, selected from The Bark Oct 23, 2009 11:12 am
By Marc Bekoff, PhD, The Bark
One of the hottest questions in the study of animal behavior is, “Do animals have emotions?” And the simple and correct answer is, “Of course they do.” Just look at them, listen to them and, if you dare, smell the odors that pour out when they interact with friends and foes. Look at their faces, tails, bodies and, most importantly, their eyes. What we see on the outside tells us a lot about what’s happening inside animals’ heads and hearts. Animal emotions aren’t all that mysterious.
When I first began my studies three decades ago -asking the question, “What does it feel like to be a dog or a wolf?” researchers were almost all skeptics who spent their time wondering if dogs, cats, chimpanzees and other animals felt anything. Since feelings don’t fit under a microscope, these scientists usually didn’t find any, and, as I like to say, I’m glad I wasn’t their dog!
But now there are far fewer skeptics; prestigious scientific journals publish essays on joy in rats, grief in elephants and empathy in mice and no one blinks. The question of real importance is not whether animals have emotions, but why animal emotions have evolved. Simply put, emotions have evolved as adaptations in numerous species. They serve as a social glue to bond animals with one another and also catalyze and regulate a wide variety of social encounters among friends and foes.
Emotions permit animals to behave adaptively and flexibly, using various behavior patterns in a wide variety of venues. Research has shown that mice are empathic rodents, but it turns out they’re fun-loving as well. We also read accounts of pleasure-seeking iguanas; amorous whales; angry baboons; elephants who suffer from psychological flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD- elephants have a huge hippocampus, a brain structure in the limbic system that’s important in processing emotions); grieving otters, magpies and donkeys; sentient fish; and a sighted dog who serves as a seeing-eye dog for his blind canine buddy. Today, the paradigm has shifted to such an extent that the burden of ‘proof’ now falls on those who still argue that animals don’t experience emotions.
Many researchers also recognize that we have to be anthropomorphic (attribute human traits to animals) when we discuss animal emotions, but that if we do it carefully, we can still give due consideration to the animals points of view. No matter what we call it, researchers agree that animals and humans share many traits, including emotions. Thus, we’re not inserting something human into animals; rather, we’re identifying commonalities and then using human language to communicate what we observe. Being anthropomorphic is doing what’s natural and necessary to understand animal emotions.
We might expect to find close, enduring and endearing emotional relationships between members of the same species, but improbable relationships also occur between animals of wildly different species, even between animals who are normally predator and prey! Such is the case for Aochan, a rat snake, who befriended a dwarf hamster named Gohan at Tokyo’s Mutsugoro Okoku Zoo, and a lioness in northern Kenya who adopted a baby oryx (usually an appetizer before a larger meal) on five different occasions.
It’s bad biology to argue against the existence of animal emotions. Scientific research in evolutionary biology, cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds) and social neuroscience support the view that numerous and diverse animals have rich and deep emotional lives. (Here I focus on mammals, although there are data showing that birds and perhaps fish experience various emotions as well as pain and suffering.)
Charles Darwin’s well-accepted ideas about evolutionary continuity that differences among species are differences in degree rather than kind - argue strongly for the presence of animal emotions, empathy and moral behavior. Continuity allows us to connect the evolutionary dots among different species to highlight similarities in evolved traits, including individual feelings and passions. All mammals (including humans) share neuroanatomical structures, such as the amygdala and neurochemical pathways in the limbic system that are important for feelings.
Mirror neurons help explain feelings such as empathy. Research on these neurons supports the notion that individuals can feel the feelings of others. Mirror neurons allow us to understand another individual’s behavior by imagining ourselves performing the same behavior and then mentally projecting ourselves into the other individual’s shoes.
To what degree various species share this capability remains to be seen, but there is compelling evidence that humans are not alone in possessing it. Diana monkeys and chimpanzees help one another acquire food, and elephants comfort others in distress. Mirror neurons also help explain observations of rhesus monkeys who won’t accept food if another monkey suffers when they do so, and empathic mice who react more strongly to painful stimuli after they observed other mice in pain.
The borders between “them” and “us” are murky and permeable, and the study of animal emotions helps inform the big question of just who we are. Another big question for which answers are revealed by studying animal passions is, “Can animals be moral beings?” In my development of the phenomenon that I call “wild justice,” I argue that they can. Many animals know right from wrong and live according to a moral code.
When people tell me that they love animals because they’re feeling beings and then go on to abuse them, I tell them that I’m glad they don’t love me. I often ask researchers who conduct invasive work with animals or people who work on factory farms, “Would you do that to your dog?” Some are startled to hear this question, but if people won’t do something to their own dog that they do daily to other dogs or to mice, rats, cats, monkeys, pigs, cows, elephants or chimpanzees, we need to know why. There’s no doubt whatsoever that, when it comes to what we can and cannot do to other animals, it’s their emotions that should inform our discussions and our actions on their behalf.
Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them, and so do other animals. We must never forget this. When it comes to animal welfare, we can always do better. Most of the time, “good welfare” is not good enough.
Note To My Critics:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Posted by Patty Ann at 5:38 PM
From: Talk To The Paw
The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. dedicated a habitat built for feral cats rescued from San Nicolas Island today, and thanked DoGreatGood.com for their generous help with the project.
"This project is a testament to the commitment of multiple agencies to find common ground and develop solutions for feral cats in areas with threatened or endangered species. The cats from San Nicolas Island deserve the opportunity to live a full and happy life, and we're proud to provide that at our sanctuary," said Betsy McFarland, The HSUS' Companion Animals senior director.
The HSUS has helped rescue more than 50 feral cats who would otherwise have been euthanized on San Nicolas Island — the outermost of the Channel Islands of California. This happy ending for the cats is the result of close cooperation between The HSUS, multiple state and federal agencies and corporate sponsors. The island is owned by the U.S. government, which has used it as a missile telemetry site for the U.S. Navy since the 1950s. Unsterilized cats taken to the island, who were allowed to roam or escaped, are the ancestors of today's island population of cats.
"The partnership with The Humane Society of the United States is providing a more secure future for the feral cats, and making San Nicolas Island a safer place for nesting seabirds and their young," said Jane Hendron, public affairs division chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Federal and state agencies joined with the U.S. Navy to remove the feral cats from San Nicolas Island, in order to improve the nesting success for seabirds who rely on the island. Removal of the cats also benefits other native species on the island, including the unique San Nicolas Island fox and federally threatened island night lizard. All of the cats would have been euthanized had it not been for the efforts of The HSUS and the Fund for Animals, which stepped up to provide them with a permanent home. The new, natural outdoor habitat at the Wildlife Care Center was constructed thanks to the financial support of DoGreatGood.com.
It was a stressful transition for the cats from being trapped on the island and flown to the wildlife center, but they are doing well and adjusting beautifully to their new outdoor habitat. Cats are climbing the trees that were incorporated into their enclosure and are rubbing against one another in greeting. The cats relax in the sun and play with one another.
"We're excited to have been a part of rescuing both the cats and the native wildlife at San Nicolas Island," said Stacy Ybarra, senior director of corporate communications at DoGreatGood.com. "We're proud that DoGreatGood.com was able to give these cats a second chance to live at this new habitat."
The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center is closed to the public, but was open to press for the event and by appointment. The wildlife center is a wildlife rehabilitation center, and does not accept feral domestic animals or domestic animals from the public.
Learn more about DoGreatGood at
Posted by Patty Ann at 9:26 AM
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Lie People Tell About Animals
Vivisectors, hunters, butchers and farmers excuse the cruel way they treat animals by claiming (falsely) that animals don't have feelings.
This is a lie.
A big fat wicked lie which excuses a thousand cruelties.
The truth, as anyone who is capable of reading and observing will know, is that animals are sentient and exhibit many of those qualities which racists like to think of as being the preserve of the human race. (I think it is perfectly fair to describe those who claim that all good' qualities are the exclusive property of the human species as racist').
One of the absurdities of the argument about hunting which has raged for recent years in Britain has been the sight of apparently intelligent people arguing about whether or not animals which are hunted suffer physical pain and/or mental anguish when they are being pursued. How can there possibly be any doubt about this? Those who do express doubt about this are telling us a great deal about their own innate lack of understanding and compassion and their inability to learn from simple observation. If observation is not enough there is more than enough scientific evidence to show that birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and crustaceans all have nervous systems and all suffer pain.
Darwin showed that fear produces similar responses in both humans and animals. The eyes and mouth open, the heart beats rapidly, teeth chatter, muscles tremble, hairs stand on end and so on. Parrots, like human beings, turn away and cover their eyes when confronted with a sight which overwhelms them. Young elephants who have seen their families killed by poachers wake up screaming in the night. Elephants who are suddenly separated from their social group may die suddenly of broken heart syndrome'. Apes may fall down and faint when suddenly coming across a snake. If a man shouts at a dog he will cower and back away in fear.
Animal abusers sometimes assume that it is only humans who can communicate with one another. And yet bees can communicate the direction, distance and value of pollen sources quite a distance away. Animal abusers generally dismiss animal noises as simply that (noises) but scientists who have taken the time and trouble to listen carefully to the extraordinary variety of noises made by whales have found that there are patterns of what can only be described as speech which are repeated from one year to another.
It is generally assumed that parrots merely repeat words they have heard without understanding what they mean. This is not true. Masson and McCarthy report how when psychologist Irene Pepperberg left her parrot at the vet's surgery for an operation the parrot, whose name was Alex, called out: Come here. I love you. I'm sorry. I want to go back.' The parrot clearly thought that he was being punished for some crime he had committed. Another parrot, in New Jersey, US saved the life of its owner by calling for help. Murder! Help! Come quick!' cried the parrot. When neighbours ran to the scene of the crime they found the parrot's owner lying on the floor, unconscious, bleeding from a gash in his neck. The doctor who treated the man said that without the parrot's cries he would have died. The same parrot woke his owner and neighbours when a fire started in the house next door.
How arrogant the animal abusers are to assume that human beings are the only species capable of communicating with one another, and of formulating a formal system of language. Vivisectors frequently laugh at the animals they torture and abuse. The concentration camp guards in the Second World War laughed at their victims and called them lice and rats. The vivisectors talk about sending a mouse to college' when they want to raise funds for experiments.
We have the power to do what we will with creatures of other species. But no one has given us the right.
Animals feel complex emotions. But the animal abusers claim that because animals do not satisfy our human criteria for intelligence then animals do not deserve any sympathy or understanding. It is but one step from this to arguing that unintelligent humans can be used for experiments.
Human beings who have taken the time to do so have found that they have been able to communicate well with chimpanzees and numerous other animals. Primates will often strive to make the peace after a hostile encounter. And uninvolved primates may help begin and cement the reconciliation........... And yet vivisectors are given legal licences allowing them to do horrific things to these animals. Who gave human beings the right to hand out licences to torture?
Capable Of Love
Animals, like people, are capable of loving their partner, their families, their children, their leaders, their teachers, their friends and others who are important to them. An ape will show exactly the same signs of love and affection when dealing with her baby as a human mother will when dealing with her baby. Both will look longingly, tickle and play with their baby. Both feed their young, wash them, risk their lives for them and put up with their noise and unruly behaviour.
Anyone who doubts that animals love their young should stand outside a farm yard when a calf has been taken away from a cow and listen to the heart breaking cries of anguish which result. Who knows what inner anguish accompanies those cries from a creature who does not normally vocalise in the same way that other animals do.
Even fish will risk their lives to protect their young. In his seminal work The Universal Kinship' (first published in 1906 and now largely forgotten) J. Howard Moore described how he put his hand into a pond near the nest of a perch. The courageous fish guarding the nest chased Moore's hand away several times and when Moore's hand was not removed quickly enough would nip it vigorously several times.
Lewis Gompertz, who lived from 1779 to 1861 and was a potent champion of the rights of blacks, women and the poor (and, indeed, all oppressed human beings) was also a powerful champion of animals and was a founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (His credibility is, I feel, dramatically enhanced by the knowledge that quite early on he was forced out of the society). In his book Moral Inquiries On the Situation Of Man And Of Brutes' Gompertz wrote: From some birds we may learn real constancy in conjugal affection, though in most instances their contracts only last for one season, but how strict do they keep this. They have no laws, no parchments, no parsons, no fear to injuring their characters, not even their own words to break in being untrue to each other: but their virtue is their laws, their parchments, their parsons, and the reputation; their deeds are their acts, their acts - their deeds: and from their own breasts do they honestly tear down to line the beds of their legitimate offspring.'
Gompertz described an incident illustrating the wisdom of blackbirds. I observed a male blackbird flying about in an extreme state of agitation,' he wrote. And on my going to discover the cause of it, the bird retreated from me as I followed it, till it stopped at a nest containing a female bird sitting upon her eggs, near which there was a cat: in consequence of this I removed the cat, and the bird became quiet. After that, whenever the cat was about the place, the blackbird would come near my window, and would in the same manner direct me to some sport where the cat happened to be stationed.'
Gompertz also wrote about a male blackbird which had attacked a cat which had caught its female partner and wrote about three true incidents which illustrated animal kindness and wisdom. The first concerned two goats which had met one another on a narrow path between two precipices. There was no room for the two goats to turn or pass and so one of the goats lay down, allowing the other to walk over it. The second incident involved a horse who had been hurt by a nail when he had been shod. Finding it painful to walk he had gone back to the farrier and shown him his hoof. The third incident involved a sheep dog who jumped into freezing cold water and successfully rescued another dog which had been floating on a lump of ice. I would now fain ask,' wrote Gompertz, if all this does not show reason and virtue?'
J. Howard Moore described how monkeys may adopt the orphans of deceased members of their tribe and how two crows fed a third crow which was wounded. The wound was several weeks old and the two crows had clearly been playing good Samaritans' for that time.
Darwin wrote about a blind pelican which was fed with fish which were brought to it by pelican friends who normally lived thirty miles away. Strong males in a herd of vicunas will lag behind to protect the weaker and slower members of their herd from possible predators.
Many creatures have memories which humans might envy. Ants retrace their steps after long journeys and can recognise friends after months of separation. When a limpet has finished roaming it will return to the exact spot on the same rock where it had been settled previously. Birds fly back year after year to the same nesting spots - to within the inch. Fish, too, return to the same stretch of water to hatch their young. Horses used in delivery routes frequently know exactly where and when to stop - and for how long. Squirrels who have buried nuts months before can find them without hesitating.
J. Howard Moore reported that an elephant obeyed all his old words of command on being recaptured after fifteen years of freedom in the jungle and a lion recognised its keeper after seven years of separation. A snake which was carried a hundred miles away from home managed to find its way back.
There is plenty of evidence, too, to show that many creatures other than human beings have powerful imaginations. Spiders will hold down the edges of their webs with stones to steady them during gales which have not yet started. Does this show an ability to predict the weather or imagination? Cats, dogs and horses and many other creatures dream. Parrots talk in their sleep.
Horses frequently stampede because they are frightened by objects (such as large rocks or posts) which are no threat to them. This must show a sense of imagination because the horse, like a child, has created a terror out of nothing.
A cat playing with a ball of wool is imagining that it is playing with its prey.
We always tend to think the worst of animals (and other creatures). We assume that they are stupid and our interpretation of their behaviour is based upon that ill-founded prejudice. It is, for example, generally assumed that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand in the assumption that when it cannot see the rest of the world, the rest of the world cannot see it. But where is the evidence for this theory? Could it not be equally possible that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand because it cannot bear what there is to view in the world around it? When a human being covers his or her eyes to avoid looking at a horrific accident we do not say that they believe that they can't be seen.
Before slavery was abolished black people who fell in love were regarded as enjoying simple animal lust' as a result of animal attraction'. Who on earth (or, indeed, in heaven) gave us the right to make such judgements about black people or animals? When black people formed life long pairs this was dismissed as nothing more than an a response to an instinct'. The same thing is said about animals (with just as little evidence to support it). Who gives humans the right to argue that animals do not show emotions? Animal abusers sneer and say that animals which seem to show love are merely acting according instinct. But who says? Where is the evidence for this claim? Why do animal abusers have the right to make statements with no evidence whatsoever in support? Why don't the animal abusers follow a consistent line and argue that human mothers who show love for their human babies are merely following their instincts? (Of course, people change their views when it suits them. Even vivisectors and hunters, who claim that animals have no feelings, will often claim to be loved by their companion dogs and cats.)
There are numerous well authenticated stories of animals risking their lives to save their loved ones. And animals will put their own safety second to protect their friends. One herd of elephants was seen always to travel unusually slowly. Observers noted that the herd travelled slowly so as not to leave behind an elephant who had not fully recovered from a broken leg. Another herd travelled slowly to accommodate a mother who was carrying her dead calf with her. When the herd stopped to eat or drink the mother would put her dead calf down. When they started travelling she would pick up the dead calf. The rest of the herd were accommodating her in her time of grief. Gorillas too have been seen to travel slowly if one of their number is injured and unable to move quickly. Remember this unquestioning generosity next time you are trapped in the midst of a crowd of humans travelling by car, train or aeroplane.
Animals don't just show love; they frequently exhibit behaviour that can only be described as altruistic. Old lionesses who have lost their teeth and can no longer bear young are, theoretically, of no value to the rest of the pride. But the younger lions will share their kills with them. Young, agile chimpanzees will climb trees to fetch fruit for their older relatives. Foxes have been observed bringing food to adult, injured foxes. When one fox was injured by a mowing machine and taken to a vet by a human observer the fox's sister took food to the spot where the injured fox had lain. The good Samaritan sister fox made the whimpering sound that foxes use when summoning cubs to eat (even though she had no cubs).
Animals have been known to give food to hungry humans. Koko, the gorilla who learned to communicate with humans through sign language, gave medical advice to a human woman who complained of indigestion. Koko told the woman to drink orange juice. When the human revisited ten days later and offered Koko a drink of orange juice Koko would not accept the drink until assured that the woman felt better. Whales have been observed to ask for and receive help from other whales. J. Howard Moore describes how crabs struggled for some time to turn over another crustacean which had fallen onto its back. When the crabs couldn't manage by themselves they went and fetched two other crabs to help them. A gander who acted as a guardian to his blind partner would take her neck gently in his mouth and lead her to the water when she wanted to swim. Afterwards he would lead her home in the same manner. When goslings were hatched the gander, realising that the mother would not be able to cope, looked after them himself. Pigs will rush to defend one of their number who is being attacked. When wild geese are feeding one will act as sentinel - never taking a grain of corn while on duty. When the sentinel geese has been on watch for a while it pecks at a nearby goose and hands over the responsibility for guarding the group. When swans dive there is usually one which stays above the water to watch out for danger. Time and time again dogs have pined and died on being separated from their masters or mistresses. Animals can suffer, they can communicate and they can care.
A Border collie woke a young mother from a deep sleep and led her to her baby's cot. The baby was choking on mucus and had stopped breathing. What is any of this but compassion? How can animal abusers regard themselves as sentient when they mistreat animals who can feel this way?
Konrad Lorenz described the behaviour of a gander called Ado when his mate Susanne-......................Elisabeth was killed by a fox. Ado stood by Susanne-........................................................Elisabeth's body in mourning. He hung his head and his body was hunched. He didn't bother to defend himself when attacked by strange geese. How would the animal abusers describe such behaviour other than as sorrow born of love? There is no survival value in mourning. It can only be a manifestation of a clear emotional response - love.
A badger was seen to drag another badger which had been killed by a car off the road, along a hedge, through a gap and into a burial spot in nearby woods.
Coyotes form pairs before they become sexually active - and then stay together. One observer watched a female coyote licking her partner's face after they had made love. They then curled up and went to sleep. Geese, swans and mandarin ducks have all been described as enjoying long-term relationships.
Animals have also been known to show vanity, self-..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................consciousness, embarrassment and other allegedly exclusively human emotions. Masson and McCarthy reported that chimpanzees have been observed using a TV video monitor to watch themselves make faces - the chimpanzees were able to distinguish between a live image and taped image by testing to see if their actions were duplicated on the screen. Chimpanzees have even managed to use a video monitor to apply make-up to themselves (this is a difficult trick to learn for humans). One chimpanzee has been reported to have used a video camera and monitor to look down his throat - using a flashlight to help the process.
As for vanity: .males (baboons) with worn or broken teeth yawn less than male baboons with teeth in good condition - unless there are no other males around in which case they yawn just as often,' wrote Masson and McCarthy.
One gorilla who had a number of toy dolls used sign language to send kisses to her favourite puppets and dolls. But every time she realised that she was being watched she stopped playing.
When a bottlenose porpoise accidentally bit her trainer's hand she became hideously embarrassed', went to the bottom of her tank, with her snout in a corner, and wouldn't come out until the trainer made it clear that she wasn't cross.
Jane Goodall has reported that wild chimpanzees can show embarrassment and shame and may, also, show off to other animals whom they want to impress. (One chimpanzee who fell while showing off was clearly embarrassed).
Many people who live with cats will have noticed that if the cat falls off a piece of furniture it will appear embarrassed - often beginning to wash itself as though making it clear that the embarrassing incident didn't really happen at all. Elephant keepers report that when elephants are laughed at they will respond by filling their trunks with water and spraying the mockers. And many dog owners have reported that their animals have made it clear that they know that they have done wrong. For example a dog which feels it has done something wrong may go into a submissive position before the owner knows that the animal has done something bad'.
There are many myths about animals and the animal abusers tell many lies in an attempt to belittle the skills that animals have. It is, for example, sometimes said by animal abusers that animals cannot see in colour. This is a nonsense. Four sheep who lived with me, who were accustomed to being fed from an orange bucket would come running across a field if they saw the orange bucket. When I tried using a blue bucket they showed absolutely no interest. The colour was the only significant difference between the buckets. A chimpanzee has been observed staring at a beautiful sunset for fifteen minutes. Monkeys prefer looking at pictures of monkeys to pictures of people and prefer looking at animated cartoons rather than at still pictures.
Gerald Durrell wrote about a pigeon who listened quietly to most music but who would stamp backwards and forwards when marches were being played and would twist and bow, cooing softly, when waltzes were played. Dogs will alter their howling according to the other sounds they hear. One gorilla enjoyed the singing of Luciano Pavarotti so much that he would refuse to go out of doors when a Pavarotti concert was being shown on television. Animal abusers have for years dismissed bird song as merely mating calls. Who can say that birds do not sing to give themselves and others pleasure?
An Indian elephant in a zoo used to split an apple into two and then rub the two halves onto the hay to flavour it.
Numerous apes have painted or drawn identifiable objects while in captivity. And when a young Indian elephant was reported to have made numerous drawings (which were highly commended by artists who did not know that the artist was an animal) other zoo keepers reported that their elephants often scribbled on the ground with sticks or stones. When one Asian elephant got extra attention because of her paintings nearby African elephants used the ends of logs to draw on the walls of their enclosure.
The animal abusers invariably try to think the worst when considering animal behaviour. When a bird takes bright objects to decorate its nest the animal abusers will claim that the bird doesn't really know what it is doing. When a human being collects bird feathers to decorate a room they are said to be showing artistic tendencies.
Vivisectors, and others who abuse animals, are blind to all this because they want to be blind to it. Animal abuse is driven by economic need and there is no place for sentiment and compassion when money is at stake. Vivisectors tear animals away from their partners, their friends and their relatives with no regard for their feelings - or for the feelings of the animals they have left behind.
When animals are born in zoos the keepers and jailers claim that this is evidence that the animals are happy. Would they also claim that the fact that babies were born in concentration camps is evidence that concentration camp inmates were happy?
What trickery the animal abusers use in their sordid attempts to excuse their brutality. Animals in captivity often die far younger than they would die if they were allowed to roam free. At one oceanarium a famous pilot whale was actually thirteen different pilot whales.
Many other species - from families as varied as ants and dolphins - are smarter, kinder and better at creating societies which work than are human beings.
A survey showed that almost half of all the women in one US city had been raped or subjected to attempted rape at least once in their lives. Just think of the torture performed by humans on other humans.
Animal abusers will leap on every example they can find of apparent bad behaviour' by animals and use that example to draw far reaching conclusions about all animals. They ignore the fact that the bad behaviour' to which they refer may well have been triggered by human aggression.
Do the animal abusers who leap upon one example of bad animal behaviour as significant also suggest that because one human murders, tortures or rapes we must all be judged by that individual? Are all human beings to be judged to be as barbaric and evil as vivisectors?
As I have described in my book Why Animal Experiments Must Stop experimenters have deliberately planned and executed experiments designed to make animals feel depressed. When they have succeeded in making animals depressed they have written up their experiments as though proud of themselves for having succeeded in their evil aims. What possible purpose can there be in creating depression when there is already so much of it in the world? (And, incidentally, does not the ability of the experimental scientists to make' animals feel depressed provide yet more proof that animals are sentient creatures?)
Enjoying The Suffering
No animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately performed experiments on another. No one animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately tortured another being.
Human beings are the only species who abuse one another (and members of other species) for pleasure. Human beings are the only species who torture. Only human beings chase and attack living creatures for fun - and for the pleasure of watching the suffering.
Contrary to myth, cats do not play' with animals for fun - it is part of their learning and training process. Cats like to chase, to catch and then to kill. They kill so that they can eat and they need to practise their chasing skills. It is, however, important to remember that a cat or a kitten will be just as happy chasing a ball of paper or a piece of string (particularly if it is manipulated in an effective and lifelike manner). This shows that the cat doesn't chase and catch because it enjoys the suffering which is produced - how much fun' could there possibly be in torturing' a ball of paper or a piece of string?
Foxes are often criticised (by those who hunt them) on the grounds that they sometimes kill large numbers of hens. The implication is that the fox kills for pleasure. The truth, however, is that, like other predators who may kill more than they can eat when they have the opportunity, foxes store the food they have killed.
In their excellent book When Elephants Weep Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy report how a man called John Teal, who was working with endangered musk oxen, was at first alarmed when some dogs approached and the musk oxen snorted, stamped and thundered towards him. Before Mr Teal could move to escape, the oxen formed a defensive ring around him and lowered their horns at the dogs. It turned out that the musk oxen were protecting their new human friend in exactly the same way that they would protect their calves from predators.
Animals have even been reported to have pets of their own. A chimpanzee who was thought to be lonely was given a kitten as a companion. The chimpanzee groomed the kitten, carried it about with her and protected it from harm. A gorilla called Koko had a kitten companion which she herself named All Ball. An elephant was seen to routinely put aside some grain for a mouse to eat. Race horses who have had goat companions have failed to run as expected when separated from their friends.
Human beings are not the only animals to have a sense of humour and fun and to enjoy playing.
Masson and McCarthy, in When Elephants Weep, report that foxes will tease hyenas by going close to them and then running away. Ravens tease peregrine falcons by flying close and closer to them. Grebes tweak the tails of dignified swans and then dive to escape. I have watched lambs play their own version of King of the Castle' (and many other games customarily played by children). A monkey has been seen to pass his hand behind a second monkey so that he could tweak the tail of a third monkey. When the third monkey remonstrated with the second monkey the first monkey, the practical joker, was clearly enjoying himself.
When scientists examined the dung of lions the lions dug up the latrine the humans had been using - and inspected the contents. Ants, fish, birds, cats, dogs, sheep, horses, monkeys, porpoises and many other creatures play.
Animals frequently make friends across the species barriers. There is much evidence showing that animals have helped animals belonging to a different species. Why do we have to be the only species to abuse all other creatures? Is our cruelty to other creatures really to be regarded as a sign of our wisdom, superiority and civilisation? What arrogance we show in the way we treat animals. Where is our humility and sense of respect? Animals have passionate relationships with one another, they exhibit clear signs of love, they develop social lives which are every bit as complex as our own. By what right do we treat them with such contempt? Those who torture and kill animals have to claim that animals have no feelings - otherwise they would be admitting that they themselves have acted cruelly.
But how they can continue to do this when there is so much scientific evidence to prove that they are utterly wrong? Those who torture and kill insist on being allowed to continue to torture and kill because they know that if they stop they will have to admit that they have spent their lives in the barbaric abuse of sensitive creatures.
No one with any intelligence or sensitivity of their own can possibly doubt that animals are capable of suffering. Animal experimenters and abattoir workers degrade us all and diminish our worth as a species.
The animal abusers will frequently argue that since human beings can speak foreign languages and do algebraic equations they are inevitably better' than animals. What nonsense this is. Does this mean that humans who cannot speak foreign languages or do algebraic equations are not entitled to be treated with respect? And who decides which are the skills deserving of respect? If we decide that the ability to fly, run at 30 mph, see in the dark or swim under water for long distances are the skills worthy of respect there wouldn't be many human beings qualifying for respect.
Cats can find their way home without map or compass when abandoned hundreds of miles away in strange territory. How many human beings could do the same? How many humans could spin a web or build a honeycomb?
We owe it to animals to treat them with respect and, at the very least, to leave them alone to live their lives on this earth free from our harm. Darwin wrote that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties'. He also argued that the senses and intuition, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason etc of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or sometimes even well-developed condition in the lower' animals.'
Turtles have been observed learning a route from one place to another. To begin with they make lots of mistakes, go down cul de sacs and miss short cuts. But after a while they can reduce their journey time dramatically. Birds, which might normally be alarmed by the slightest noise, learn to ignore the noise of trains and cars when they build their nests near to railway lines or busy roads. Even oysters are capable of learning. Oysters which live in the deep sea know that they can open and shut their shells at any time without risk. But oysters which live in a tidal area learn to keep their shells closed when the tide is out - so that they don't dry out and die. This might not quite rank alongside writing a classic novel but how many human beings can write classic novels?
Animals use reason and experience to help them survive and they exhibit all of the skills which the animal abusers like to think of as being exclusively human.
All animals accumulate information which helps them to survive and live more comfortably. Moreover, they do it just as man does - by discriminating between useful and useless information and by memorising information which is of value. A puppy who has been burnt on a hot stove will keep away from it just as surely as a child who has suffered a similarly unpleasant experience. Older fish learn to be wary of lures - and become far more difficult to catch than young ones. Rats learn how to avoid traps, and birds learn where telephone wires are strung (so that they don't fly into them). Arctic seals used to live on inner ice floes to avoid the polar bears but after man arrived and proved to be a worse enemy they started living on the outer ice floes. Many animals know that they can be followed by their scent and act accordingly. A hunted deer or hare will run round in circles, double back on its own tracks, go through water and leap into the air in order to lose its pursuers.
Flocks of parrots will send an advance scouting party ahead to check out that all is well.
There is no doubt, too, that animals actively teach their young in order to pass on skills which the animal abusers generally regard as being nothing more than instinct'. I have watched an adult cat giving lessons to orphan kittens for which he had taken responsibility. The adult cat, teaching the art of stalking, would edge forwards and then stop and look over his shoulder to see if the kittens were following in the correct style. After the lesson had gone on for some time the kittens started playing behind the adult cat's back. They got away with it for a couple of times but on the third occasion the adult cat saw them. He reached back and gave them both a clip with an outstretched paw. The kittens weren't hurt but they paid attention again.
We tend to ignore the actions of other creatures because we don't have the time to watch what they do. But even the seemingly lowly ant has a complex and sophisticated life style. Ants can communicate with one another and recognise their friends. They will clean one another, they play, they bury their dead, they store grain, they even clear land, manure it, sow grain and harvest the grass which they have grown.
When animal abusers hear about this sort of behaviour they dismiss it as nothing more than instinct. But is it? If a Martian looked down on earth and watched us rushing about on our routine daily work would he perhaps be tempted to describe us as incapable of original thought and responding only to instinct? We may not like it but many races of non human beings have a much greater influence on their environment than we have. There are still tribes of men who live almost naked in very crude huts and whose social structures are relatively primitive when compared to, say, the beavers who cut down trees, transport them long distances, dam rivers, construct substantial homes and dig artificial waterways. Ants plant crops and build roads and tunnels. Birds build astonishingly beautiful nests from the simplest of materials.
Animal abusers claim that man is the only animal to use tools. But this simply isn't true. Even insects use tools - using small stones to pack the dirt firmly over and around their nests. Spiders use stones to keep their webs steady when the weather is stormy. Orangutans and baboons use sticks and stones as weapons. Monkeys use stones to help them crack nuts. In one zoo a monkey who had poor teeth kept (and guarded) a stone hidden in its straw for nut cracking. That monkey had a tool which it regarded as its own property. Chimpanzees drum on hollow logs with sticks. Monkeys know how to use sticks as levers. The Indian elephant will break off a leafy branch and use it to sweep away the flies. Ants know how to keep grain in a warm, moist atmosphere without the grain sprouting. The honeycomb and the bird's nest are wonders of architecture. Insect communities practise true and decent socialism.
The wonders are unending.
Animals are often curious and determined and hard working; loving and loyal and faithful. (But they do not harm themselves with tobacco and alcohol.)
We do not understand how a cat which has been taken a hundred miles away from its home (in a closed bag) can find its way back again.
But animal abusers will sew up the cat's eyes, plant electrodes into its head and subject it to unimaginable pain and suffering in their search for personal glory.
The eagle and the vulture have eyes as powerful as a telescope. The swallow will travel thousands of miles every spring, only to be trapped and shot by a Maltese hunter when it dares to land for water.
Many animals, birds and insects can predict the coming of storms far more effectively than our allegedly scientific weather forecasters.
Weight for weight the tomtit has more brain capacity than a human being.
The animal abusers claim that animals cannot reason. But it is clear that it is the animal abusers who find reason a difficult concept.
The facts are abundantly clear: animals are sentient creatures. As J.Howard Moore put it: The human species constitutes but one branch in the gigantic arbour of life.'
How cruel and vicious a species we must look to lobsters who are boiled alive, to donkeys who are beaten beyond their endurance and to all farm animals. Not all men are humane.
Man is the most drunken, selfish, bloodthirsty, miserly, greedy, hypocritical being on the planet. And yet we think ourselves so damned superior. Man is the only being on the planet to kill for the sake of killing; to dress up and turn killing into a social pastime.
The animal abusers sneer at hyenas but they do not kill for fun.
Only man gloats over the accumulation of material goods which he does not truly need.
No creature is as immoral as the animal abuser. Only man needs an army of lawyers to fight over what is right and wrong. Only man has forgotten the meaning of natural justice.
We have created a hell on this earth for other creatures. Our abuse of animals is the final savagery, the final outrage of mankind in a long history of savagery and outrage. We have colonised other species in the same way that White Northern Europeans colonised other parts of the world. Instead of learning from other animals, instead of attempting to communicate with them, we simply thrash around wickedly, abusing, torturing, tormenting and killing. We destroy the relationships of animals with one another, with their environment and with our own race. We diminish ourselves in a hundred different ways through our cruelty and our ignorance and our thoughtlessness. Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn and his inhumanity to not-men makes the planet a ball of pain and terror,' wrote J.Howard Moore.
If man was truly the master of the universe he would use his wisdom and his power to increase the comfort and happiness of all other sentient creatures. Sadly, tragically, man has used his wisdom and his power to increase the misery of other sentient creatures. Animal abusers imprison millions of animals in cruel and heartbreaking conditions and ignore their cries of pain and distress on the grounds that animals are not sentient creatures'. What self-delusional nonsense this is.
Sheep and cattle are left out in huge fields in cold, wet weather. They shiver and search in vain for shelter because all the trees and hedgerows have been removed to make the farm more efficient. The animal abusing farmer cares not one jot for animals: he cares only for his profits.
It is quite simply just as immoral to regard animals as existing for the glorification of man as it is to regard black men or women as existing to serve white men.
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things,' wrote Albert Schweizer, man will not himself find peace.'
The merciful man is kind to all creatures.
Taken from Animal Rights Human Wrongs by Vernon Coleman
Posted by Living "Cruelty-Free!"
Bulletin Reposted by Media for Animal Liberation at http://www.myspace.com/xmfalx
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Posted by Patty Ann at 10:03 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Fran ~ Unshakable Resolution for Saving Animals
..For more than eight months in 2009, a PETA investigator worked undercover inside the laboratories of the University of Utah (UU) in Salt Lake City and documented miserable conditions for and terrible suffering of the dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, mice, rabbits, frogs, cows, pigs, and sheep confined there. ....Our investigator learned that homeless dogs and cats—obtained for a few dollars from area animal shelters through an archaic Utah state "pound-seizure" law, which requires government-funded shelters to turn animals over to laboratories that request them—were used in invasive, painful experiments and killed. ....A pregnant cat pulled out of the Davis County animal shelter gave birth to eight kittens the very day she arrived at UU's laboratories. When the kittens were just 7 days old, a chemical was injected into their brains to cause fluid to build up. After the surgery, the distressed cat—who showed great affection for her kittens before they were taken for the experiment—stopped nursing her babies, and they all died. In other experiments, a cat named Robert, who was also bought from the Davis County animal shelter, had a hole drilled into his skull and electrodes attached to his brain, and dogs bought from a local shelter had their necks cut open so that medical devices could be implanted inside.
Undercover Investigation Reveals Cruelty and Neglect in Utah Lab
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Kindness of Strangers for the Earth and Animals
LIVE PLUCKING OF GEESE AND EIDER DUCKS FOR DOWN
In a recent Napa Register news article, "The short, sad life of a Hungarian goose," reporter Henry Kamm describes one source of all that down in the stores each winter: "The geese of the Hungarian Soviet Friendship Cooperative Farm live short and unhappy lives. They are hatched without benefit of Mother Goose in ovenlike breeders. Until they are eight weeks old, the goslings are fed either a diet 'good for livers or good for feathers.' Neither is good for the birds' happiness."
If the geese are white, they are destined to be plucked for their down (the soft, fine feathers of young birds), which will go into pillows, parkas and comforters. These geese lead "particularly uncomfortable lives. Four or five times during the short span allotted to them they are plucked." The farm owner conceded that even Western European countries that allow force feeding for pate de foie gras draw the line at plucking the birds alive.
"After the last plucking, when winter approaches and cost accountants say it is more expensive to heat the sheds than the feathers are worth, the geese are slaughtered for their meat."
*Eider ducks. Any of several large sea ducks (genus Somateria) that live in northern regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Eiderdown is the soft, fine breast feathers, or down, of the eider duck, used as a stuffing for quilts, pillows, etc. (from Webster's New World Dictionary, 1979)
Summary of "Live-Plucked Geese Documented in Video," The Animals' Voice, Jan.Feb.March 1993 (Vol. 6, No. 1), p. 43.
Beauty Without Cruelty Charity in England has obtained color video evidence of the live plucking of geese for feathers and down on Hungarian factory farms. The video shows terrified birds being lifted by their backs and then having all their body feathers ripped out. The frantic geese struggle to escape, causing strained muscles and sometimes broken limbs.
Veterinarians and even geese breeders call this practice "extremely cruel," particularly the plucking itself and the tying of the birds' legs over their backs. Rippers are paid piece rate and therefore speed is of the essence. Experienced rippers can rip up to five ounces of down in three to four minutes—an average pillow takes about 1.5 lbs. of filling. The Hungarian Feather Association confirms that 25,000 tons of goose feathers are exported annually from Hungary (95% of its total production). It estimates 50% of the down and 40%-45% of the feathers are live plucked. The remainder come from slaughtered birds.
Geese normally live in small family units and mate for life, living up to 20 years and flying long distances. But not the geese on Hungarian factory farms, where some 20,000 geese are crammed into a small area. The geese are live plucked two or three times a year before being slaughtered or force fed for another year to produce pate de foie gras (swollen goose liver, a product found in the United States, imported from France). Under normal conditions, a goose develops its first full coat of feathers at about eight weeks old and will molt (gradually shed old feathers and grow new ones like all birds) each year.
Down is in high demand for bedding, and world production adds up to thousands of tons. The main market is Germany. Countries where live-plucking takes place include China, Poland, and Hungary, and allegedly France and Israel.
Synthetic fillings are durable, easier to clean, are less likely to cause allergies, and cost less.
For more information about live plucking or details about the video evidence, write BWC Charity, 57 King Henry's Walk, London N1 INH England.
Live Plucking is Painful. See M.J. Gentle, L.N. Hunter, "Physiological and behavioural responses associated with feather removal in Gallus var domesticus [chickens]," Research in Veterinary Science, Vol. 50 (1990), pp. 95-101.
"Nociceptors [pain receptors] have been identifies in the skin of several avian species [including ducks, geese, and chickens]. The follicular wall of the feather is richly supplied with general somatic afferent (sensory) fibres, and nerves are present in the papilla, pulp and feather muscles. . . The feather is firmly held in the follicle. . . . [F]orce [was] required to remove the dorsal feathers of White Leghorn hens using a steady pull. . . .
". . . In conclusion, from the results presented here and from those of previous experiments it seems likely that feather removal is painful to the bird. Zimmerman (1986) has defined pain in animals as an aversive sensory experience caused by actual or potential injury that elicits progressive motor and vegetative reactions, results in learned avoidance behaviour and may modify species specific behaviour, including social behaviour. Feather removal [experimentally done to Leghorn hens by these researchers] results in tissue injury which gives rise to motor behaviour and cardiovascular changes which when repeated results in stress-induced immobility and thus satisfies most of the criteria in this [M. Zimmerman's] definition of pain."
Posted by Moonwarriors
Reposted by Kindness of Strangers E_CO Member
Friday, November 6, 2009
Added On November 6, 2009
A Humane Society investigation into treatment of animals at a Maine veal plant shows animals being skinned alive.
Posted by Patty Ann at 4:32 PM
Sunday, November 1, 2009
By Marc Bekoff
Created Oct 29 2009 - 1:42pm
There is no doubt that many animals experience rich and deep emotions. It's not a matter of if emotions have evolved in animals but why they have evolved as they have. We must never forget that our emotions are the gifts of our ancestors, our animal kin. We have feelings and so do other animals.
Among the different emotions that animals display clearly and unambiguously is grief. Many animals display profound grief at the loss or absence of a close friend or loved one. Nobel laureate ethologist Konrad Lorenz writes: "A greylag goose that has lost its partner shows all the symptoms that [developmental psychologist] John Bowlby has described in young human children in his famous book Infant Grief . . . the eyes sink deep into their sockets, and the individual has an overall drooping experience, literally letting the head hang . . ." Sea lion mothers, watching their babies being eaten by killer whales, wail pitifully, anguishing their loss. Dolphins have been seen struggling to save a dead infant and mourn afterward. Stories about grief stricken companion animals abound; see also).
Wild animals also grieve. Among the best examples are grieving rituals of elephants in the wild observed by such renowned researchers as Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole. Captive elephants also grieve; see also. To quote Joyce Poole: "As I watched Tonie´s vigil over her dead newborn, I got my first very strong feeling that elephants grieve. I will never forget the expression on her face, her eyes, her mouth, the way she carried her ears, her head, and her body. Every part of her spelled grief". Young elephants who saw their mothers being killed often wake up screaming.
Cynthia Moss describes the actions of the members of an elephant family above after a group member had been shot: "Teresia and Trista became frantic and knelt down and tried to lift her up. They worked their tusks under her back and under her head. At one point they succeeded in lifting her into a sitting position but her body flopped back down. Her family tried everything to rouse her, kicking and tusking her, and Tullulah even went off and collected a trunkful of grass and tried to stuff it in her mouth."
Iain Douglas-Hamilton and his colleagues have shown that elephants extend this compassion to nonrelatives, to those who aren't genetically related, and at least one anecdote shows them extending it to humans. A news report told of an elephant in northern Kenya that trampled a human mother and her child and then stopped to bury them before disappearing in the bush. Elephants don't show concern just for their own kin, or their own kind, but rather elephants show a general concern for the plight of others.
Nonhuman primates also grieve the loss of others. Gana, a captive gorilla, clearly grieved the loss of her infant and the image of her carrying her dead baby was shown around the world. Jane Goodall observed Flint, a young chimpanzee, withdraw from his group, stop eating, and die of a broken heart after the death of his mother, Flo. Here is Goodall's description from her book Through a Window:
"Never shall I forget watching as, three days after Flo's death, Flint climbed slowly into a tall tree near the stream. He walked along one of the branches, then stopped and stood motionless, staring down at an empty nest. After about two minutes he turned away and, with the movements of an old man, climbed down, walked a few steps, then lay, wide eyes staring ahead. The nest was one which he and Flo had shared a short while before Flo died. . . . in the presence of his big brother [Figan], [Flint] had seemed to shake off a little of his depression. But then he suddenly left the group and raced back to the place where Flo had died and there sank into ever deeper depression. . . . Flint became increasingly lethargic, refused food and, with his immune system thus weakened, fell sick. The last time I saw him alive, he was hollow-eyed, gaunt and utterly depressed, huddled in the vegetation close to where Flo had died. . . . the last short journey he made, pausing to rest every few feet, was to the very place where Flo's body had lain. There he stayed for several hours, sometimes staring and staring into the water. He struggled on a little further, then curled up— and never moved again."
Another story of grieving chimpanzees recently was reported in the Daily Mail.
Gorillas are known to hold wakes for dead friends, something that some zoos have formalized in a ceremony when one of their gorillas passes away. Donna Fernandes, now president of the Buffalo Zoo, tells the story of being at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo ten years ago during the wake for a female gorilla, Babs, who had died of cancer. She describes seeing the gorilla's longtime mate say good-bye: "He was howling and banging his chest,... and he picked up a piece of her favorite food — celery — and put it in her hand and tried to get her to wake up. I was weeping, it was so emotional." Later, the scene at Babs's December funeral was similarly moving. As reported by local news, gorilla family members "one by one ... filed into" the room where "Babs's body lay," approaching their "beloved leader" and "gently sniffing the body."
When Sylvia, a baboon, lost Sierra, her closest grooming partner and daughter to a lion, she responded in a way that would be considered very human-like: she looked to friends for support. Said Anne Engh, a researcher in he University of Pennsylvania's Department of Biology. "With Sierra gone, Sylvia experienced what could only really be described as depression, corresponding with an increase in her glucocorticoid levels."
Jim and Jamie Dutcher describe the grief and mourning in a wolf pack after the loss of the low-ranking omega female wolf, Motaki, to a mountain lion. The pack lost their spirit and their playfulness. They no longer howled as a group, but rather they "sang alone in a slow mournful cry." They were depressed — tails and heads held low and walking softly and slowly — when they came upon the place where Motaki was killed. They inspected the area and pinned their ears back and dropped their tails, a gesture that usually means submission. It took about six weeks for the pack to return to normal. The Dutchers also tell of a wolf pack in Canada in which one pack member died and the others wandered about in a figure eight as if searching for her. They also howled long and mournfully. Foxes also have been observed performing funeral rituals.
My friend Betsy Webb who lives in Homer, Alaska, told me a moving story about grief in llamas. She wrote:
"Llamas are gregarious by nature, extremely perceptive, and forge deep bonds with one another. In the pasture, our llamas often feed in the same area, sleep next to each other, and stay close together when they face off an unfamiliar animal or predator. On the trail, they become extremely agitated if they lose sight of each other when one stops to rest and falls behind. They vocalize quite a bit. My favorite is their delicate greeting call, which sounds like a miniature bagpipe exhaling. When my family moved from Colorado to Alaska, we brought our two Colorado llamas with us. As fate would have it, we inherited two Alaska llamas with our new house and grounds. Each twosome had spent their lives together. At first, the twosomes were a bit standoffish, but in time, they became fast friends and a foursome. Several years later, the oldest llama, Boone, died quite suddenly at twenty-seven years old. One day, he laid down on his side, too weak to get up. The next day, his life partner, Bridger, died in the same fashion, next to him. It was early spring and the ground was still frozen, so we hired a friend with a backhoe to prepare their grave just across the fence. We carefully hoisted Boone and Bridger over the fence and into the ground, then covered them. The other pair, Taffy and Pumpernickel, stood by and watched the entire process quietly. For the next two days, stoic Taffy stood across the fence from the grave and stared at the hole in the ground. She barely moved from the spot. Excitable Pumpernickel stayed in his little barn and wailed for two days. On the third day, they emerged from their grieving and resumed their normal activities. Did Bridger surrender himself to death following the loss of his lifelong buddy Boone? And Taffy and Pumpernickel, both very distinct personalities, grieved in their own personal ways. For me, the most moving memory of losing two llamas so close together was experiencing the caring and harmonious llama death and grieving process."
Magpies also grieve the loss of other magpies; see also. I recently received this story via email in response to the essays about my observations of magpie grief. "I have a farm in Bolton, UK and we were overrun with Magpies. The reaction from the magpies [to the corpse of another magpie] in the vicinity was akin to a scene from the film 'The Birds', as they surrounded the lifeless bird and tried to reawaken it with their beaks. When they reached the conclusion that it was indeed dead, there was an outpouring of loud cackling noises which reached quite a crescendo (there were around 20 of them); this was echoed by a similar sympathetic chorus from a nearby wood and within a minute, from all surrounding areas giving the impression that hundreds of magpies were being told of the death and simultaneously expressing their grief. It was quite unnerving and I remained within the safe confines of a barn until all was over."
Why do animals grieve and why do we see grief in different species of animals? It's been suggested that grief reactions may allow for the reshuffling of status relationships or the filling the reproductive vacancy left by the deceased, or for fostering continuity of the group. Some theorize that perhaps mourning strengthens social bonds among the survivors who band together to pay their last respects. This may enhance group cohesion at a time when it's likely to be weakened.
Grief itself is something of a mystery, for there doesn't seem to be any obvious adaptive value to it in an evolutionary sense. It does not appear to increase an individual's reproductive success. Whatever its value is, grief is the price of commitment, that wellspring of both happiness and sorrow.
Source URL: http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/34291
Posted by Patty Ann at 11:05 PM