Animal Have Feelings

2110 words 9 pages
Nicholas Destino
Professor Thomas
English 101
10 November 1997
Do Animals Have Emotions? Somewhere in the savannas of Africa a mother elephant is dying in the company of many other pachyderms. Some of them are part of her family; some are fellow members of her herd. The dying elephant tips from side to side and seems to be balancing on a thin thread in order to sustain her life. Many of the other elephants surround her as she struggles to regain her balance. They also try to help by feeding and caressing her. After many attempts by the herd to save her life, they seem to realize that there is simply nothing more that can be done. She finally collapses to the ground in the presence of her companions. Most of the other elephants move
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Although other primates also engage in similar behaviors, chimps even go so far as to embrace, and attempt to console, the defeated animal (“Going Ape” 78). Another striking example of one animal showing sympathy for another is the account cited by Barber of a parrot comforting its sick mate. It is not, however, the only example of this type of behavior, especially among birds. Barber cites several other instances as well. According to Barber, documented records show that responsible observers have seen robins trying to keep each other alive. Also, terns have been known to lift another handicapped tern by its wing and transport it to safety. Likewise, a jay has been known to successfully seek human help when a newborn bird of a different species falls out of its nest. What makes this latter example particularly noteworthy is that the newborn wasn’t a jay but an altogether different type of bird. Had the jay been helping another jay, it would be easy to assume that the act of caring was the result of what scientists call genetic altruism—the sociobiological theory that animals help each other in order to keep their own genes alive so they can reproduce and not become extinct. Simply put, scientists who believe in genetic altruism assume that when animals of the same species help each other out, they do so because there is something in it for them—namely the assurance

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