Whether it’s the caring maternal bond between a lioness and her cubs, the joyful play of a young lamb, or the sad grief of an elephant for a lost family member, the behaviour of animals shows that, like us, they can feel.
Common sense and experience have convinced most people that animals have a level of awareness and the ability to feel in ways that are comparable, if not identical, to ours.
Sentience in any animals is difficult to confirm. We only know that other humans are sentient because we can communicate to each other that we are. Because we do not have a shared language with other animals we cannot ask them how they are feeling or want they are thinking. However, we can study their physiology and their behaviour and look for signs that they, like us, are sentient beings. Scientific research is constantly revealing more and more new evidence of animals’ complex mental abilities, intelligence and emotions.
By closely observing the way animals behave scientists are revealing fascinating insights into animals’ minds. We are learning about the complexity of their mental learning, communications, interactions and social lives, use of tools, and better understanding their wide range of feelings and emotions including empathy and depression.
The more we study animals the more we learn. The more we learn the more we respect. The more we respect the more we want to protect.
The use of tools was originally thought to be a skill only possessed by humans. It was in fact considered the defining characteristic that separated us from other animals. However, it is now known that many kinds of animals use tools.
An emotion can be roughly defined as something that moves one’s body and mind. ‘a strong feeling such as love or anger, or strong feelings in general’ (Cambridge Dictionary definition) Scientists try to study emotions by splitting…
Empathy is feeling what others feel. Empathy is the ability to not only detect what others feel but also to experience that emotion yourself. We humans can empathise with each other and other animals. When we empathise, we ‘feel into’ others and understand how they feel.
Human personality is something with which we are all familiar, in that we ‘know it when we see it’. In fact, personality is what distinguishes one individual from another. Defining personality scientifically, however, is not easy.