Do Elephants Weep as an Emotional Response?

We are not 100% certain solid scientific research supports the view that elephants and other nonhuman animals weep as part of an emotional response. Rather than dismiss this possibility as merely storytelling, we need to study it in more detail. Many surprises have been discovered in the emotional lives of animals including laughing rats and empathic chickens.

Animal Sentience is Not Science Fiction: Recent Literature

Recent essays on animal sentience are essential reads for a wide audience. For the few skeptics who remain these papers should convince you that detailed scientific data show that a wide range of animals are sentient beings, and for those who know this to be the case, these essays provide wonderful resources. Animal sentience is a fact, not science fiction.

Research Data: Should We Ignore Studies on Abused Animals?

Should we use data from behavioral studies in which animals are mistreated? People disagree and I feel this question will be of interest to readers of Psychology Today. My own take is that it is acceptable to use these sorts of existing data with some very strong restrictions especially for future research. And, the data must be used for the animals' benefit.

Designer Dogs Costa Rica Style: Unwanted but Unique Breeds

Despite the fact that millions of dogs each year are "put to sleep" because no one wants them, many people still choose to buy purebreds from breeders themselves or from pet stores. I just learned of a brilliant program in Costa Rica that is well worth sharing. In an inspirational video you'll see how a shelter is finding homes for unwanted but new breeds of mutts.

Divided Brains: Fascinating Facts about Brain Asymmetries

"Divided Brains" brings together vast amounts of research on asymmetry (lateralization) of brain function in many different species. Lateralization refers to structural and functional differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This extremely important book offers many surprising discoveries including research on horses and dogs and their well being.

Apes Swim and Birds Know Speed Limits

From chimpanzees who do the breaststroke to birds who observe speed limits, animals are not always who we imagine them to be.

Anthropogenic Brain-Changing: Some Significant Human Effects

Humans are changing animal habitats and brains. Two species of small mammals show larger brains in urban when compared to rural environs. We still don't know if individuals with larger brains are better learners or show increased behavioral flexibility related to their ability to survive in altered habitats, but we do know our effects are wide-ranging and significant.

Monogamy: Researchers Disagree on Why Mate Fidelity Evolved

In two recent comprehensive studies, researchers disagree on why monogamy evolved in nonhuman mammals, and some wonder if humans really are monogamous at all. One group argues that monogamy evolved because of infant killing (infanticide), whereas the other concludes that monogamy evolved when females live far apart and males can't mate with more than one female.

Giraffes: Long-Necked Icons Who May Soon be Long Gone

A new book captures the magnificence of the world's tallest animal. Replete with outstanding pictures "Giraffe Reflections" contains historical accounts of these long-legged and long-necked icons, scientific facts, observations of new behavior patterns, and wonderful stories. It reveals many valuable lessons about who these skyscraping beings are and why we must save them.

Do Animals Typically Think Like Autistic Savants?

Temple Grandin's claim that other animals typically behave as autistic savants is unsupported by scientific evidence about how their brains work and their behavior. As one expert in animal behavior and neurobiology notes, "You may find some animals are autistic but it's not characteristic of animals in general." My own field observations support this view.

A Dog and a Bunny: A Tale of Compassion and Friendship

Jethro, a large compassionate dog, rescued a bunny and a bird. It's clear that other animals form deep and enduring relationships with members of their own species and as time goes on we're learning more about relationships that are called "odd couples" or "unlikely friendships" because they involve members of different species forming similar and improbable social bonds.

Neuroimaging: Crows, Human Infants, and Other Animals

Non-invasive studies showing what the brain is doing tell us a lot about cognition and consciousness in animals, human and nonhuman, who are unable verbally to tell us what they're thinking and feeling. And, surprises are continually forthcoming.

Zoos: Is it Time to Close America's Zoos?

Costa Rica has decided to close its zoos so should other countries follow? You can now vote on the question, "Is it time for America to close its zoos?" Presently, about 91% of voters have said "yes" and 9% "no". This is a perfect project for readers of Psychology Today because these data can be used to analyze the complex nature of our relationships with other animals.

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."

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