Friendship Influences Contagious/Empathic Yawning by Dogs

Dogs yawn more when watching a familiar person yawn and contagious yawning seems to be empathy based. But, is it really merely a rudimentary form of empathy or the "real thing"?

Dogs Eye-Flash Friends and Bears Bring Joy and Rewild Us

Dogs display behavioral laterality and left eye-flash friends, and bears teach us many valuable life lessons. Furthermore, following up on an essay I wrote in October 2012, today it was announced that NOAA Fisheries has denied an application by Georgia Aquarium to import 18 beluga whales for public display.

Are Pigs as Smart as Dogs and Does It Really Matter?

Comparisons of intelligence across different species and phrases like "emotionally complex" place us on a slippery slope and should not be used to assess suffering in nonhuman animals. Solid research clearly shows that many other animals are very smart and have rich and deep emotional lives, and asking if pigs are as smart as dogs doesn't really make much scientific sense.

Daisy: The Injured Dog Who Believed She'd Walk Again and Did

This video of a severely injured dog, Daisy, being rescued from the side of a road with a broken back, being operated on, and learning to walk, is a message of determination and hope from which we can learn a lot about other animals and ourselves. Daisy's remarkable journey will move you to tears of sorrow and joy, and says much about our relationships with other animals.

A Dog and His Man

A dog greets a soldier after being apart for six months and expresses his deep feelings about this reunion.

Raven Asks for Help Removing Quills After Porcupine Attack

A young raven trusts a human will help relieve his pain from porcupine quills after he was attacked. What I love about this video is how Wilfred, as the family named him, knew what to do to get help, because he couldn't pull out the quills on his own. He sat patiently as the quills were removed, protesting now and again, but trusting Gertie Cleary to help him.

Murder Incorporated: Wildlife Services Under Public Scrutiny

An essay in the New York Times by its editorial board concludes, "Resolving wildlife conflicts need not involve indiscriminate killing." Others have been saying this for years and it's great to have newspapers like the Times support the efforts of many others who deeply care about the lives of other animals and who have questioned the murderous ways of Wildlife Services.

SeaWorld Claims "Blackfish" Is Misleading: Caging Orcas Okay

"Blackfish" shows clearly that killer whales are abused and deeply suffer in captivity. SeaWorld is an "abusement park", a SeaJail and whale mill in which animals are forced to do stupid and unnatural tricks and to breed. Magnificent orcas and other animal beings shouldn't be "forced to live the life of a pickle in a jar." And, you can do something about this.

Being Kind to Urban Deer: Thinning Herds Without Violence

Hastings-on-Hudson, New York plans to try birth control to deal with too many deer. Immunocontraception is a wonderful alternative to "humanely" killing animals into whose home we unrelentingly trespass. Peaceful coexistence allows us to rewild our hearts and to expand our compassion footprint by not wantonly trumping the lives of other animals in a human dominated world.

Horse Shocked and Dies at New Jersey Rodeo: Time to Ban Them

Shocking horses, despite being banned in rodeos by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), continues to the horse's intense suffering and death. Rodeo is a form of sanctioned violence and it's about time they are banned as a form of "entertainment". Listening to the announcer in the accompanying video heartlessly justify shocking a "family member" is sickening.

A Dog Funeral: Adult Dog Ritually Buries a Dead Puppy

Watch an adult dog ritually bury a dead puppy, making sure the corpse is totally covered before moving on. Many animals have been observed performing funeral rituals taking great care to cover a corpse. In this case it's unknown if the adult and the youngster were relatives, however, the adult does what needs to be done. Is she a grieving mother or kind-hearted stranger?

Luna: A Lost and Lonely Whale Desperately Seeking Love

A new book (and timeless documentary) tell the story of a young and very lonely lost killer whale named Luna as he desperately seeks out human friends for love. Luna's story will move you to laughter and to tears as he shows just how much he is like us in wanting to live in peace and safety among those who love him and who he can love in return. It's not rocket science.

A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience: No Pretending

We have had ample data for a long time to declare other animals are sentient beings. In this essay I urge that we accept a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience and stop pretending we don't really know if animals are sentient or that we don't know what they want and need. Facts show they want to live in peace and safety and absent fear, pain, and suffering, like us.

Blackfish: “A Whale Has Eaten One of the Trainers”

This incredible film about a notorious killer whale named Tilikum who killed three people shows why orcas shouldn't be caged and forced to perform stupid and unnatural tricks or to breed to make more of their kind who also will be driven crazy by being kept in horrific conditions. Animals like Tilikum are severely mistreated at places like SeaWorld in the name of money.

Elephant Billy to be Denver Zoo's New Itinerant Sperm Donor

Zoos shuffle animals around as if they're unfeeling and uncaring objects under the guise of conservation. Invariably zoo administrators say this game of "animal shuffle" is good for the species but available data do not support this claim. In this case, Billy, a young male Asian elephant, is being shipped across the world to be a sperm donor and if he fails he's doomed.

What Is It Like to Be an Octophant?

Can we ever really know what it is like to be another animal? Two recent essays, one on octopus and one on elephants (hence the word "Octophant"), discuss how we can go about learning about the minds of other animals who are alien and of those who are not so alien. Solid scientific research shows that we can indeed gain an understanding of various types of other minds.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Fear and Loathing in YNP

The mere presence of predators has wide-ranging impacts on animals and ecosystems. The ubiquitous effects of psychological landscapes of fear are being widely studied because, according to an essay in New Scientist, "Fear and intimidation are far more common in nature than we realised, with surprising consequences not just for animals but for the entire landscapes."

Why Do Animals Die So We Can Eat Them?

This inspirational video of a young boy, Luiz, asking his mom why we eat other animals, raises many important questions about the beings we choose to consume. His sensitivity and compassion are contagious and make us reflect on who we eat. Among the gems Luiz speaks are: "I don't like that they die" and "These animals ... you gotta take care of them ... and not eat them."

Animal Minds: Latest Research From the Scientists' Mouths

A new podcast from Lapham's Quarterly summarizes the latest and greatest discoveries in the study of animal minds. In my humble opinion it is a "must listen". Contributors include Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Virginia Morell, Irene Pepperberg, Diana Reiss, and yours truly. This podcast is essentially an up-to-date "book on tape" for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Cougar, Cubs Killed in S. Dakota: Let's Make Violence Costly

Mother and cubs were killed although they harmed no one. We need to make compassion toward other animals profitable and violence unprofitable. For example, we can choose to visit or vacation in places where there isn't egregious animal abuse. We need to change our behavior to accommodate other animals in areas in which we choose to live. We have a choice, they don't.

The Bear Bile Industry: Cruelty Can't Stand the Spotlight

The brutal abuse of Asiatic moon bears to produce bile for advocates of Chinese Medicine is receiving much needed widespread global attention. Guan Zhiling, a youngster who visited Animals Asia's Moon Bear Rescue Centre outside of Chengdu, China, summed the situation up beautifully: “It’s brutal and disrespectful to the bears, and a disgrace to the human race.”

Stray Animals and Trash Animals: Don't Kill the Messengers

The problems we face with stray animals and with filthy, feral, invasive, and unwanted “tossed aside” species say a lot about us. Our anthropocentric arrogance shines when we use such derogatory terms and these words inform our actions. Compassionate conservation with its emphasis on the well-being of individual animals, can come to the rescue of these “disgusting others”.

Compassionate Conservation: A Green Conversation

A Green Conversation with renowned ecologist Michael Tobias focuses on why the lives of individual animals matter in conservation projects and the time is overdue for factoring compassion into these efforts. Compassionate conservation can rescue other animals and us from the unprecedented egregious and speciesist path of anthropocentric and anthropogenic domination.

Beg: If You Really Love Animals You Shouldn't Harm Them

Rory Freedman's latest book called "Beg" is a must read about how we must do more to improve the lives of other animals. Her direct approach and occasional irreverence are very much welcomed as are the deep and unwavering passion and love she offers to other animals and brings to her readers. It's really easy to make the lives of other animals much better. Let's do it now.

Killing Condors for Homes, Hotels, and Golf Courses is Okay

In a regrettable move the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted exceptions to a wind farm and building project allowing them to harass or kill endangered California condors. Luxury homes, hotels, golf courses, and lots of money will trump the lives of these magnificent birds. This is consistent with the proposed removal of wolves from the Endangered Species List.

Fish Use Referential Gesture to Communicate During Hunting

Groupers and coral trout signal the location of hidden prey with their head. This is the first observation of the use of a referential gesture by fish.

Bella and Beavis: Dog Mourns the Death of Her Beaver Friend

Who could ever say nonhuman animals don't grieve the loss of friends? This video of Bella, a dog, mourning the death of her beaver friend, Beavis, will leave you breathless.

Thirteen Gold Monkeys: Bringing Conservation to the Public

Benjamin Beck's novel about saving endangered golden lion tamarins is a must read. If you want to learn about the ups and downs and the ins and outs of conservation biology on the ground, this is the book to read. You'll learn about how science is done in the most difficult of situations in which many people would have thrown up their hands and gone home.

Do Animals Worry and Lose Sleep When They're Troubled?

Nonhumans can be worrywarts and stress out and be anxious about many things. We are not alone in the "worry arena" although we may be unique in having the luxury of obsessively pondering what's causing us to be anxious. In the wild at least, animals have to get on with what they have to do to survive. Excessive worrying and losses of sleep can be costly.

Should We Kill Happy Animals?

In a forthcoming book about how we treat other animals especially on factory farms, Dr. Tatjana Visak asks, "How can it be that we cannot kick them but we can kill them?" Should we kill happy animals? I think not, and all the philosophy in the world and Temple Grandin's stairway to heaven aren't going to convince me that the answer should be an easy "yes".