I find this title very amusing. As I read it, a question keeps crossing my mind: aren’t we all animals? It is strange how we are so quick to attack those who share the same origins as us. But then again, we do not care about destroying others of our own kind, so why should we care about killing beings that are not even of our own species? After all, animals are not even rational beings, are they? Well, no, let’s be liberal… They do think, they are just not as intelligent as we are. Besides, they do not feel. Or if they do feel, it is only through their instinct. Is it not?
In this post I shall present to you various cases that clearly demonstrate animals’ inability to think and to feel. It will hopefully make you think about human superiority and our undeniable supremacy as rational, emotional beings.
“On Marco Island, Florida a group of dolphins came to the aid of a lost Dog that had fallen into a canal and couldn’t get out. The dolphins made so much noise, it attracted the attention of people living nearby, who then rescued the dog. The dog was believed to have spent 15 hours in the canal water before he was pulled out by fire personnel and reunited with his owner. (…) Dolphins have been known to sometimes help stranded or injured people as well. In 2007, a pod of dolphins formed a ring around a surfer who was injured and bleeding after being bitten by a Great White shark. The surfer survived because they prevented further bites.” (http://www.whale.to/a/dolphins6.html).
“Helping behavior is a prosocial behavior whereby an individual helps another irrespective of disadvantages to him or herself. In the present study, we examined whether rats would help distressed, conspecific rats that had been soaked with water. In Experiment 1, rats quickly learned to liberate a soaked cagemate from the water area by opening the door to allow the trapped rat into a safe area. Additional tests showed that the presentation of a distressed cagemate was necessary to induce rapid door-opening behavior. In addition, it was shown that rats dislike soaking and that rats that had previously experienced a soaking were quicker to learn how to help a cagemate than those that had never been soaked.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201505/empathic-rats-save-drowning-pals-rather-eat-chocolate).
“Radamenes, an angelic little black cat in Bydgoszcz, Poland, has come through hell and high water to help the animals at the veterinary center there get better. After the veterinary center brought him back from death’s door, he’s returning the favor by cuddling with, massaging and sometimes even cleaning other animals convalescing from their wounds and operations.” (http://www.boredpanda.com/veterinary-nurse-cat-hugs-shelter-animals-radamenes-bydgoszcz-poland/).
“When you think about which animal you least want to show up when you’re wounded and helpless, lions pretty much take the cake (and your face, and then some limbs, because they’re lions). They’re 300-pound, 6-foot-long cats that look at you as nothing more than a delicacy at a fancy lion restaurant they like to call Africa. But as we’ve noted before, lions also have a softer kitten center that leads them to care for some unlikely creatures. In this instance, it’s a 12-year-old Kenyan girl who had been missing for a week. It turned out that she had been abducted by several men who were trying to force her to marry one of them (because who has time for romance?). But when the authorities finally found her, she was alone, her kidnappers having fled. Instead, she was surrounded by three lions that had scared away, and hopefully maimed, her captors.” (http://www.cracked.com/article_20054_7-true-stories-animals-rescuing-people-from-certain-death.html).
“It looks like a moment of terror – a diver finds her leg clamped in the jaws of a Beluga whale. In fact, it was a stunning example of an animal coming to the rescue of a human life. Yang Yun, 26, was taking part in a free diving contest without breathing equipment among the whales in a tank of water more than 20ft deep and chilled to Arctic temperatures. She says that when she tried to return to the surface, she found her legs crippled by cramp from the freezing cold. At that point, Mila the Beluga took a hand, or rather a flipper. ‘We suddenly saw the girl being pushed to the top of the pool with her leg in Mila’s mouth’, said an official at Polar Land in Harbin, north-east China. ‘She’s a sensitive animal who works closely with humans and I think this girl owes Mila her life’.”(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1202941/Pictured-The-moment-Mila-brave-Beluga-whale-saved-stricken-divers-life-pushing-surface.html)
These are only a few stories that, I hope, will make you reflect upon the inability to think and inability to feel that we so generally and close-mindedly associate with animals. In an ever evolving world, it is time we begin accepting that Mankind is not the hegemonic leader of the world that possesses reason and feeling as his greatest distinctions from the beasts of the wild. These stories and many more, and scientific articles written all around the world, prove that animals are capable of feelings such as empathy, love, solidarity, fear for others, and many more. After realising that what brings us closer may be far more than what sets us apart, can we still keep treating animals the way we do nowadays to satisfy our luxuries and contentment?
Hope remains that “the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murders of animal as they now look upon the murders of men”.
* For those who are interested in learning more about this subject, or for the skeptics, I recommend reading books such as: Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, Jonathan Balcombe’s Second Nature, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, António Damásio’s The Book of Consciousness; Penelope Smith’s Animal Talk; …