Ignoring Nature No More: Compassionate Conservation at Work

Compassionate conservation is a rapidly growing international movement. This paradigm shift focuses on major themes including animal protection and the conservation of wild animals, captive animal welfare and conservation, conservation consequences of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release, the international trade in wild animals, and the lives of individual animals.

Animals in Film: "No Animal Was Harmed" Just Isn't So

Animal abuse in film continues and the statement "No animal was harmed" has little to no meaning. Why does the American Humane Association get away with failing the animals? A New York Times essay "Speaking for the Animals on Film Sets" shows how people continue to pass the buck. Surely there have to be major changes so that the mistreatment of animals in film stops now.

My Beef With Temple Grandin: Seemingly Humane Isn't Enough

While I enjoy Dr. Grandin's feistiness I disagree with her views on cows. Her seemingly humane "stairway to heaven" along which cows trod to their death ("dead cow walking") doesn't protect but a tiny fraction of all the cows who find themselves served up for unneeded meals and it would be nice to see Dr. Grandin really speak out against factory farming once and for all.

Horrific and Bloody Dolphin Massacre in Taiji in the News

The reprehensible killing of dolphins in Japan is discussed in a scientific journal in an essay titled "A Veterinary and Behavioral Analysis of the Killing Methods Used in the Dolphin Drive Hunts in Taiji, Japan". As was done in "The Cove", this is a wonderful move for continuing to raise awareness of what is happening in Taiji. The dolphins need all the help they can get.

Do "Smarter" Dogs Really Suffer More than "Dumber" Mice?

Intelligence is a slippery concept and there's no reason to think it's linked with an individual's capacity to suffer. Here I revisit a paper I published in 1994 called "Cognitive ethology and the treatment of non-human animals: How matters of mind inform matters of welfare". It's clear from recent research that supposedly "less intelligent" animals also deeply suffer.

The Birds and the Bees and Their Brains: Size Doesn't Matter

Small-brained animals display surprising and very sophisticated cognitive skills. Relative brain size is only one factor to consider when studying just how smart animals are because individuals maximize the use of what they have. Being called a birdbrain or a bee brain really is okay. Size doesn't matter.

Cesar Millan Receives Honorary Graduate Degree: Tail Wags?

Controversial dog trainer Cesar Millan is formally and academically recognized for his dominating and intimidating ways of training dogs at Bergin University of Canine Studies and people wonder why. This coveted award will unlikely receive a lot of exuberant and joyful tail wags.

How Animals Grieve: Saying Goodbye to Family and Friends

A new book by Barbara King called "How Animals Grieve" is a must read for all. Dr. King clearly comes down on the side that grief is widespread among diverse animals and there may be "a common biological underpinning to the grief that animals -- horses, goats, rabbits, cats, dogs, elephants, chimpanzees, and people -- feel." What an exciting field for scientific research.

The Emotional Lives of Reptiles: Stress and Welfare

A recent essay discusses ways to use behavior to assess reptile psychological well being. It concludes, "unlike dogs and cats, reptiles will almost universally be 'life-restricted' in small, arbitrarily and poorly conceived vivariums maintained by non-professionals. ... Contrary to common perceptions, reptiles manifest an array of abnormal behaviours that indicate stress."

Dogs In the News: Emotions, Compassion, and the Iditarod

While we're pretty good reading how dogs are feeling there's still room for improvement. Also read also about Fozzie and his new friend in need, scrawny stray Lars. And, once again, the Iditarod is in the news, this time because of the tragic and unnecessary death of one of its canine participants, Dorado, a "dropped dog", who could not be rescued because of bad weather.

Students For Peace: Humane Education and Hope for the Future

The Master's Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research, organized by Åbo Akademi University in Vasa and the University of Tampere in Finland, provides interdisciplinary approaches to research on the complex issues of peace and conflict in the contemporary world. It's just what is needed to foster hope and peace as we head into a messy and challenging future.

Killing Coyotes Utah Style: “I love to hunt them”

Killing coyotes doesn't work to reduce their purported damage to livestock and other animals yet some people love to kill them for fun. Utah's bounty on coyotes shows this to be true. To quote John Shivik, the mammal program coordinator for Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources who supports killing coyotes, “Is it going to work? We don’t know." So why do it? They enjoy it.

Valuable Life Lessons From a Wise Whale: Song of the Spindle

This humorous and educational short video by illustrator Drew Christie with music by Spencer Thun will really make you think about who we are and who "they" are. It will make you laugh at yourself and at ourselves but also should encourage us to change the ways in which we interact with other animals and how we live our own lives.

Can Dogs Experience Guilt, Pride, and Shame: Why Not?

We need more research to really know if dogs experience guilt, pride, and shame, so right now we should keep the door open to the possibility or likelihood they do. Since it's been claimed that other mammals with whom dogs share the same neural bases for emotions do experience guilt, pride, shame, and other complex emotions, there's no reason to assume dogs cannot.

Give Peace a Chance: We Do Not Have To Go To War

War is not a human universal and we shouldn't blame animals for our evil ways. In his Foreword to a book called "War, Peace, and Human Nature" primatologist Frans de Waal writes, "The idea that [cooperation] ... is merely a thin moral veneer over an otherwise nasty biology" is not supported by available data. Peter Verbeek notes we go to war as a choice. We don't have to.

Animal Souls, Feelings, and Government Torture

Nonhuman and human animals share many traits and hierarchical thinking and wanton abuse are wrong. Here I consider two essays, one published by Fox News called "Animal torture, abuse called a 'regular practice' within federal wildlife agency" and the other published in Hinduism Today called "Animals Have Souls and Feelings, Just Like We Do". Both will fire up your brain.

Torturing and Killing Goats Military Style Isn't Necessary

Let's stop the practice of live tissue training now. Goats don't like pain and suffering and don't suffer any less than dogs, and I'd like to believe that no one would allow a dog to be treated in these heinous ways. Indeed, dogs can no longer be used in such abusive and unnecessary "research" and indeed no animals should be subjected to such heinous treatment.

An Interview with Jane Goodall on Plants and Chimpanzees

Jane Goodall always has words of wisdom about almost everything. We all know her wonderful and long-term contributions to the study of chimpanzees and other animals, but few know that Dr. Goodall has now ventured into the world of plants. In this interview she reflects on a wide range of topics offering many important reflections on her life and on the state of the world.

Beating the Burnout While Working For a Compassionate World

I hope this guest essay by writer Michael Howie is a useful guide for avoiding burnout for those who work very hard to make the world a better, safer, and more peaceful and compassionate place for all beings and to preserve biodiversity and magnificent and diverse landscapes. Many suffer from secondary trauma and it's easy to understand why some people simply burnout.

Recreational Hunting Redux: Cougar Fund Opts For No Killing

Killing cougars (and other animals) does not solve the "problems" for which they are blamed and should stop right now. Recreational hunting is really sport hunting - killing for fun - and the wanton and ruthless slaughter does not reduce conflicts between these predators and humans. Surely we can do better than wantonly and brutally killing them and it's about time we did.

Chimpanzees To Be Retired to Safety: Please Watch this Video

This video of what life will be like for "retired" chimpanzees who finally will be able to live out their lives in peace and safety and with dignity is worth countless words. Watch it, watch it again, and share it widely. It's about time.

Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears Offers Lessons in Hope

Jasper, an Asiatic moon bear rescued from the horrific bear bile industry in China by Animals Asia, is an ambassador for forgiveness, generosity, peace, trust, and hope. His story, his physical and psychological recovery, is an inspiration for all. Jasper tells people and other bears, "All will be okay, trust me." We can learn a lot about being positive from other animals.

National Pig Day, Brutal Breeding, and the New York Times

An Iowa pig farmer accused of animal welfare violations tries to make perfect pork and the New York Times essay writes off animal abuse as if doesn't matter. The day after this essay appeared was National Pig Day and I offer that each and every day we should we celebrate pigs for the amazing beings they are and not represent them as if they are unfeeling objects.

Are Fluffy Pandas Worth Saving or Should We Let Them Go?

These difficult questions raise complex issues some of which many like to avoid. The dire real world situation demands that we need to make tough choices about who lives and who dies that may work against a "fluffy, cuddly bear". More and more researchers are taking the view that we can't fix everything and that we need to make choices about who to save and who to let go.

Dolphins, Like Humans, Call One Another By Name

Bottlenose dolphins copy and use signature whistles to communicate with others in ways that resemble human language. This research and studies on a wide variety of other animals shows that claiming we are an exception, the only language bearing animals, is a myth that must be shelved. It's bad biology to rob other animals of their cognitive and emotional capacities.

Saving Your Dog's Eyes or Sending Your Daughter To Camp?

Our best friends and other animals force us to make very difficult choices. In her new book, "The $60,000 Dog: My Life With Animals", Lauren Slater has to decide, for example, whether to take care of her dog's failing eyes or send her daughter to an expensive camp. These dilemmas raise questions about who other animals are and what we owe them. I'd choose Lila's eyes.

Recreational Hunting: Would You Kill Your Dog For Fun?

Killing other animals for recreation amounts to killing them for fun. I realize that many of the issues centering on sport hunting are highly contentious but they need to be discussed openly. For those who choose to kill animals in the name of whatever serves their purpose, including conservation, if you wouldn't do it to your (or a) dog why do it to other sentient beings?

Dogs in Love: Four Feet of Heaven With a Wiggling Tail

Animals clearly love one another so let's get over it. If we love one another so do other animals and good biology tells us this is so. And, it's love, not "love". When it comes to love we humans don't seem to do all that well in the arena of amor. Perhaps we should be saying that humans "fall in love" and use other animals as examples of what falling in love really means.

The Genius of Dogs and The Hidden Life of Wolves

These two fact-filled and engaging books are well worth reading and sharing widely. While dogs have many friends imperiled wolves need all the friends and help they can get because as I write this essay they are being ruthlessly and wantonly killed. This unnecessary and heartless slaughter breaks up families and has had huge negative effects on on-going research.

Sperm Whales Surprisingly Adopt Deformed Bottlenose Dolphin

An adult male dolphin with a spinal deformity found a home in a group of sperm whales, a lovely story of a surprising cross-species friendship. Whatever the reasons for this rare observation, it shows just how much there is to learn about the fascinating animals with whom we share our magnificent planet. I'm sure we will discover more of these "surprises" in the future.