If only the real Babe could speak…
I’ve been catching up on my knowledge on the loveable antics of animals, especially farm animals. Did you know that animals are much like humans in so many ways?
Animals form close, deep and long-lasting relationships not only with humans, but also with their own kind as well as other species of animals. Researchers and other observers say they love hanging out with their animal and/or human ”best friends”. They are playful and inquisitive, or get themselves into mischief. They feel joy, happiness, contentment, loyalty and love! They are capable of intense love and affection that humans could very well learn from them.
It’s not only feelings of joy though. They feel physical discomfort, suffer mental anguish, squeal in protest, feel terrorised, endure agony, scream in pain, get stressed, and also express extreme distress when separated from their loved ones.
So you can easily imagine how the deplorable and shameful situations in slaughterhouses take its toll on animals. They hold a grudge to those who hurt them. They have long memories, remember past hurts and some, like the chimpanzees, even after many years, don’t forgive. It’s not only elephants who mourn the loss of loved ones and friends, but other animals too.
These are just a few things we have in common with them. And yet, there are many more things we don’t truly know about them.
In her book, The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities, Amy Hatkoff says animals with reasonably complex brains have ”vivid and distinct personalities, minds capable of some kind of rational thought and… feelings”.
Marc Bekoff, in The Emotional Lives of Animals notes that ”Careful scientific research is validating what we intuitively understand: that animals feel, and their emotions are as important to them as ours are to us… Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys, and their grief the deepest and most devastating.”
Some of the things that farm animals are reported to do or possess, which many of us may or may not know:
• Pigs love video games. They are more intelligent than dogs; smarter than poodles.
• Even though pigs have small brain, they are teachable and are fast learners (what they call a ”one-trial learner”).
• Chickens can count and ”use their right and left brains for different functions”.
• Chickens and roosters have ”highly developed communication skills”.
• Ducks have good sense of humour, and are suspected to even have ”regional accents”.
• Turkeys recognise each other by their voices.
• Turkeys love human companionship and, armless as they are, love to hug and be hugged by humans.
• Goats are ”affectionate” and ”love attention”.
• Sheeps recognise faces and ”respond to emotional cues from both human and sheep faces”.
• Cows are perceptive, sensitive and are self-aware.
• African Buffalos were observed to be making decisions by, what else, ”voting”!
k.d. lang asked a good question, ”We all love animals. Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner’?”
Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, shows us how she quit salivating for animal flesh: ”I looked at the piece of animal on my plate, and it symbolized fear, pain, death. I stopped eating it.”
Watching http://www.earthlings.com did it for me. In fact, it was not the merciless torture the animals suffer or the physical and/or psychological problems caused by unthinking humans shown on the video that stuck with me. It was the sight of a dog, perhaps bound to be euthanised, sitting in a corner of its cell with the saddest of eyes I’ve ever seen in a dog.
Unless we watch videos/documentaries or read books on animals and their rights, we’ll remain ignorant about their plight.
I feel so much love for animals now I lost my desire for eating animal meat, much less handle cooked or raw, dead, bloodied meat. Quitting eating meat is not that hard, at least from my experience, once you have a shift in your thinking about the true nature of and our relationship with animals. Once you realise what loving and respecting animals truly mean, you’ll lose your craving for animal flesh. This is coming from me, a one-time hard core meat lover right up to late last year and a picky eater one at that.
My eyes, mind and heart are now wide open. I look at animals in a new light. I now see what other long-time genuine animal lovers see.
Joe Hutto, a naturalist who studied and wrote about wild turkeys, sums it up nicely, ”The time I spent with them was this wonderful kind of humiliation. We are not superior beings, we are just different beings. We are not more interesting creatures.”
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Sources and recommended reading:
The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities by Amy Hatkoff.
Ninety Five, Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs, edited by No Voice Unheard.
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
The Ten Trusts by Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff
Note: The above images are from istockphoto.com.