We are familiar with the idea that certain animals—such as cats, dogs, and others we see as pets—experience emotions. In fact, some might say that our pets feel emotions similarly to the way we do. But these are not the only animals that feel emotion—they are just the ones we are most familiar with. The amazing capabilities and intelligence of animals we don’t spend quite as much time with might surprise you.
Elephants mourn the loss of their relatives, cradling the bones and rocking back and forth. Chimpanzees look for and use plants that have medicinal qualities. Fruit eating bats act as midwives for bats who have a difficult time giving birth, and have been seen bringing food to sick group members. To avoid overpopulation when food is scarce, seals can absorb their own fetuses.
Then there are the stories of animals saving our lives. Animals have pulled children from ponds, woken people up to alert them of fires, and kept people alive in freezing water. In a zoo near my house there is the famous story of a mother gorilla who guarded and protected a child who fell into her enclosure.
After all of these facts, one cannot deny that animals have emotions and deserve respect. Joy, jealousy, grief, and other emotions are simply not only human traits. Unfortunately, most people today do not understand this—animals are often treated as mere objects; products only to be used for our advantage. If we ever want to fall into a time where animals are not oppressed for our advantage, we need to respect them first.
In order to respect animals, look at them not as objects, but as individuals who experience feelings and emotions. Put yourself in their place. Don’t ever call an animal “it” or “that,” but “he” or “she.” Be thoughtful around animals, and in everything you do, try to educate others about animal cruelty and help others to respect animals as you do. If society only learns to respect animals as individuals who have their own interests, animal cruelty can be behind us.
Andrew Puccetti may only be fifteen years old, but he has already shown immense dedication and passion for the well-being of animals. Every other week Andrew will be here talking about the relationship between young people and animal rights–how they can make a difference, how they are already making a difference, and how important it is for kids to continue the fight for our animal companions. Learn about Andrew’s non-profit organization Live Life Humane and check out his blog!