Animals and the Emotional Experience

Animals are a wonderful addition to any household. Their adorable nature and unconditional love makes owning a pet rewarding. Most people love their animals- but do they love us back?

Animal lovers would unequivocally say yes; however researchers are skeptical and searching for concrete evidence to support these claims. According to an article published in All Animals magazine, “What seems blatantly apparent to many animal lovers is often challenged by scientists as nothing more than sentimental anthropomorphism.”

Many accounts of animals acting on their emotions have been alleged. Scientist Marc Bekoff told of an experience while observing elephant behavior. In an article featured in All Animals magazine, Bekoff explained, “A hormone-crazed male elephant knocked over a female elephant suffering from a leg injury. A third elephant rushed to her aid; touching her trunk to the sore leg as if to kiss the pain away.” This report suggests that animals are capable of empathy.

Similar accounts are revealed by Bekoff. In his book entitled, The Animal Manifesto, he tells
a story about a dog’s pains after the loss of a friend. His book quoted a biologist’s recollections. It was stated, “The dog followed a cart carrying the body of a mule who’d been his companion for 12 years. When the mule was buried, the dog slowly walked over to the grave of his friend and wailed.” This story is heart-wrenching. Though scientists might be unwilling to admit the dog’s action were an expression of its pain; it seems clear to me.

A research study concerning chickens unveiled some surprising information. Animal Welfare and Behavior Research Scientists at the University of Bristol conducted an experiment where
they exposed chicks to mild distress to observe the mother’s reaction.

According to research, “The hens reacted with increased alertness, decreased preening, and increased vocalizations directed to their chicks, as well as experiencing an increase in heart rate and lower eye temperature.” Basically, the mothers feared for their children’s safety. That
seems like strong evidence that not only do animals experience emotion; they understand whether it’s good or bad.

Royal Society’s biological research journal commented, “That domestic hens appear to be affected emotionally when their chicks are distressed; suggesting that birds possess one of the important attributes underpinning empathy.”

It has also been shown that animals feel pain not just in the physical sense. Bekoff disclosed, “Research has shown that mice react more strongly to painful stimuli after they observe other mice in pain.”  This indicates that animals can understand the emotional expressions of other members of their species.

The information is fascinating. However, it also raises concerns regarding animal neglect and cruelty. Harm against animals is unacceptable; this information supports that fact completely. Nonetheless it occurs every day and must be exposed for the horrible crime it is. The topic of
animal neglect and abuse will be covered in a following article. So be sure to check back with for that story! But in the mean time treat your fuzzy friends nicely and pay attention to your pet’s actions- they might be trying to tell you a lot more than you thin

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