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Scientists discover animals feel emotions just like humans

  • Aniya Faulcon
A photographer takes a picture of an elephant named

A photographer takes a picture of an elephant named "Kaavan" waiting to be transported to a sanctuary in Cambodia, at the Maragzar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Iconic singer and actress Cher was set to visit Pakistan on Friday to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” who will soon leave a Pakistani zoo for better conditions after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Airdate: September 29, 2022

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After watching recent popular videos on social media of dogs smiling while getting a haircut, laughing hysterically with an owner, or crying on the grave of one of their loved ones, many have wondered if animals can feel emotions just like humans do and to what extent.

In recent studies, scientists have discovered that animals feel empathy, grieve, and seek joy just like us. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, author of National Geographic’s October cover story on this topic, joined us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to provide some insight on scientists’ findings about animals’ emotions.

Bhattacharjee said humans are animals too, so perhaps other animals aren’t so different from us. Scientists were able to confirm that many animal species share our capacity for feeling emotions through field observations.

According to National Geographic, rats show kindness, monkey’s protest injustice, orcas mourn their dead, Corvids empathize with one another, and so do many other species. Bhattacharjee said, from anecdotal observation he can say that animals emphasize with humans and he suspects there will be evidence coming out soon that shows that animals can empathize with other creatures that are not of their own kind.

“For centuries, we have thought of human beings as being unique and sort of different from the rest of the animal kingdom, which is why there’s been this thinking all along that that animals don’t possess these attributes that we have of being able to feel love, empathy, joy, and so on,” Bhattacharjee said.

With this new found knowledge, that animals can feel emotions like humans do, comes with the question: Is killing animals for food or hunting purposes considered inhumane?

“That’s a question in the back of our minds when we learn about new evidence that shows that animals have the ability to feel emotions, particularly pain and loss,” Bhattacharjee said. “I do think that some of this research is creating a moral force like a like an imperative to at least reconsider how we treat other animals on this planet.”







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