Magazine article International Wildlife

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Magazine article International Wildlife

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Article excerpt

Emotional About Emotions

I don't get it. Your article "Natural Passions" [September/October] purports to say that wild animals have emotions, the same way people do. If we are to buy that far-fetched idea, then we must begin to think of animals as the same as people, and not as the lesser species that they are. Every religious tradition tells us there is a difference. Don't get me wrong. I have two cats and a corgi, and I love animals-- but people, they ain't.

Linda Underwood

Detroit, Michigan

Your story on animal emotions plays right into the hands of anti- hunting fringe groups: Animals have emotions; therefore, they're the same as people. From that, we must conclude that hunting animals is like committing murder, right? You might as well have published a manifesto to buttress the views of the most far-out animal rights groups.

Sam Dollop

Tucson, Arizona

The balance in Laura Tangley's article on the politically charged issue of animal emotions is extraordinary and the scientific evidence she cites compelling. The article raises the sorts of interesting ethical and intellectual questions that must inevitably result when scientists break new ground. Give us more fair-minded, thought-provoking articles like this.

Edith A. Willington

Cleveland, Ohio

Your article on animal emotions did make the point that it is very easy to be fooled. Amen. What looks like an emotion may be something quite different. Scientists and lay people alike have to be very careful about ascribing meaning to a look or action that might be instinctual and have nothing to do with emotions. Since we can't get into the animal's head to really know what is going on, we must make assumptions. And that is a dangerous thing to do, especially for scientists, who ought to know better.

Garner J. Hoffman

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Do animals experience sadness, even in memory? In 1983, in Masai Mara National Preserve [in Kenya], I saw an elephant family, in social rank formation, approach the remains (hide and bones) of a young elephant killed by lions. When the matriarch reached the site, every member halted in place. Then she advanced one step and with the tip of her trunk nuzzled every bit of the deceased's remains. Completed, she stepped a pace or so aside, and the next in line repeated the ritual, and so on to the end (one or two, who attempted to jump rank, were whopped back into line by the matron's trunk). The ceremony completed, the matriarch led her family into the sunset. …

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