Do animals have feelings?

March 28, 2016 by

Originally published on Blogspot Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Ted talk I discovered recently reminded me of this concept. You might want to check it out.
Ted talk

I've always felt that they do. They have consciousness - maybe with less breadth or depth or the ability to express it than we who call ourselves humans do - but just in another material form.

I've seen it in pet dogs who appear to mourn the loss of their owner. I've also seen it in other animals less common in our "civilized" living.
One instance:
While driving on a mountain highway in Idaho many years ago, I came across a situation. A duck had apparently been hit by a vehicle prior to my arrival on the scene. It appeared as though that or another car had run over the duck's body. It was fairly flattened.
But that's not the story.
The story is that another duck - I presume the dead duck's mate - was standing in the road beside the body. It was walking around the body, occasionally putting its head and beak down toward the body. As I approached in the car I was driving, this duck quickly flew to a low rock wall on the side of the road.
I slowed and eventually stopped to watch.
The duck on the wall then flew back down onto the road and began walking around the dead duck, again putting its head and beak down and even touching the dead duck's body.
It seemed as if it was trying to tell its mate to get up or something.
I realize that many will say there are a lot of assumptions and anthropomorphizing here, but it convinced me that something more was going on.
That duck was experiencing what we might call loss, grief, and maybe other emotions.

Another instance.
We live across the street from a small cattle ranch.
When we walk to the street and the cattle are near the fence bordering the street, the cattle normally move further away - back into the more open field.
One time that didn't happen. A young bull was standing at the fence constantly looking in our direction. He would occasionally make a sound - maybe some would say he bellowed. He kept looking our way and making that sound.
We thought that strange.
As we discovered, he was standing near a dead calf. We couldn't initially see the calf, because of a dip on the other side of the road. We don't know why the calf died.
I would have expected such behavior more from a cow if she had lost her young than a bull, but ....
We've never seen such behavior before or since. The cattle still routinely leave the area when we walk out toward the road.
I think he was trying to get our attention to help the calf.

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