Friday, September 21, 2012

Elephants being among the most intelligent of the animal world are unquestionably socially involved and emotionally multifarious.  

Elephants indubitably have human like acumen and emotion appertaining to their behavior, therefore allowing their intellectual competence to distinguish right from wrong. There have been observations where working elephants refuse to perform certain tasks, knowing that a degree of danger or safety will prevent them from executing the task, i.e. lowering wood into a hole containing a sleeping dog, when the dog leaves the hole, the elephant will conclude the task.  

Whether in the wild or in captivity animals with larger brains show greater aptitude development or ability, as they have a bigger capacity for learning, exhibit more emotion and have better memory retention.

A good example is by animals showing the accumulation and preservation of social and ecological facts and information, such as remembering scents, recognizing and identifying sounds and voices as well as maintaining survival migratory routes. Some may argue that all the above is instinct which is inbred in animals.

To display instinct there has to be intelligence and emotion.

An extraordinary story that demonstrates long term memory of elephants as well as emotion, is when two African elephants living in a US zoo where sent back to Africa and then reintroduced and released back into the wild of the Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa. Twelve years later one of the female elephants was badly bitten by a cantankerous and irritable hippo. The bite wound was so severe that this required regular and repeated medical treatment by a veterinarian.  

A major problem was to immobilize the elephant cow in order to medically treat her on an ongoing basis, which meant life threatening anesthetics. So the Pilanesberg park officials invited the elephant keeper from the US zoo to South Africa, where with anticipation he will use his old vocal commands to call the elephant for treatment without anesthesia.  

After twelve years of separation the US zookeeper called the elephant cow by name, she immediately walked up to him raised her trunk and allowed the vets to treat her wound. There was a choking sentiment from the zookeeper and a tender emotion from the elephant cow; two old friends were amazingly reacquainted after twelve years.

This leads to empathy the ability to share one another’s feelings and experiences. Female elephants stay closely bonded to their relatives for life this includes the responsibility of caring for relative’s offspring and young. Emphatic and evident behavior of empathy is common within the elephant world. Such as establishing coalitions to assist and back each other in need of help, exhibiting a variety of responses and emotions to dying or dead elephants by attempting to cover or bury a dead elephant’s body or bones, or remaining at a dying elephant’s side until the elephant has passed away.

Animals respond and react to the environment, surroundings and situations as much as humans do, showing unquestionable emotion to each other, as well as attaining high stress and anxious levels in times of danger or uncertainty. These emotions have a noticeable and obvious effect on their behavior and actions. Without comprehending or understanding the psyche of animals which include verbal interaction, researchers may never be able to know how animals actually feel.

When we observe different and dissimilar animal behavior patterns in a variety of circumstances, we do see that emotions allow animals to behave adaptively and with a certain amount of flexibility. Mice are not necessarily emphatic, they have fun, and iguanas can be pleasure seekers. Whale watchers perceive that the whale’s amorous character shines through like a powerful flashlight. If baboons do not have it their way they express anger, elephants suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) and have psychological flashbacks. Otters grieve their dead and what about the sighted German Sheppard dog who takes on the roll without hesitation as the “seeing-eye-dog” for his Border Collie friend or the dolphin that empathizes and helps the child who has a disability.

Has the paradigm now moved to where the burden of proof rests with the skeptics or the doubters who still argue animals to not experience emotion?
Studies are conclusive in that there is a definite behavioral similarity in emotional expression and articulation between animals and humans.

Read and view the book 'Beauty of the Wild' by Alan Lipa the ultimate coffee table read combining breathtaking wildlife photography with fascinating story telling. Alan Lipa depicts and illustrates through his photography an ability to share unique and inimitable story narratives of the animals he characterizes.

No comments:

Post a Comment