Our Differing Views of Domestic and Wild Animals [video]

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Most people who have pets consider them to be individuals with personalities. So, why wouldn’t the same people consider animals in the wild to be individuals with distinct personalities, as well?

The renowned Dr. Joyce Poole working on her elephant study

The renowned Dr. Joyce Poole working on her elephant study

In the article, Animals Are People,Too on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s web page, Sheryl Eisenberg discusses this topic. She writes, “We appreciate an animal’s individuality when we can recognize the animal and follow his or her actions over time—that is, when we see it has a life story.” She observed this while she was involved in an Osprey satellite tracking project . Ask any wildlife conservationist and they will tell you the animal(s) they are studying have their own distinct personality and ways to communicate.

National Geographic interviewed the renowned Dr. Joyce Poole about her elephant study for their Explorers Bio article. She talks about her feeling completely at ease because she understands their behavior so well and is inspired by their intelligence and complexity.

On Phy.org, Lin Edwards writes, “scientists studying dolphin behavior suggest they could be the most intelligent creatures on Earth after humans.” She states, “The behavioral studies showed dolphins (especially the bottlenose) have distinct personalities and self-awareness, and they can think about the future. The research also confirmed dolphins have complex social structures, with individuals co-operating to solve difficult problems or to round up shoals of fish to eat, and with new behaviors being passed from one dolphin to another.” One scientist said, due to the size of their brains in relation to body size, they should be treated as “non-human persons”and granted individual rights.

Actually, India recently declared dolphins a “non-human persons“. They forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country.

Two Bottlenose Dolphins in the Wild

Two Bottlenose Dolphins in the Wild

All three articles are very different, however, have a common theme. The scientists and researchers can describe individual traits and personalities of the animals they are studying because they are getting to know them (usually on a daily basis). Check out the NOVA scienceNOW documentary below with Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing the intelligence of animals, wild and domestic. Albert Einstein said it best, “Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”


NOVA scienceNOW w/ Neil deGrasse Tyson: How smart are animals?

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