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".

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.