A World According To Animals

Our understanding of the social and emotional intelligence of animals is rapidly expanding. Prides of lions, herds of elephants, and even individual mice have been recorded showing what we would recognize as empathy, compassion and other feelings that were once thought to be exclusively human.

I hope you have all had the opportunity to read the International Fund for Animal Welfare digital publication “World of Animals.”  From that magazine you will have seen the amazing work we’re doing around the globe to protect individual animals, populations, and the habitats animals rely on.

An overview video of the Indian elephant calf release.

In our most recent two issues, for example, you will have seen stories on our release of orphaned elephants in India and our campaign to end whaling in Iceland.  But in this blog post, I want to shift our perspective to the world according to animals.

Our understanding of the social and emotional intelligence of animals is rapidly expanding.  Prides of lions, herds of elephants, and even individual mice have been recorded showing what we would recognize as empathy, compassion and other feelings that were once thought to be exclusively human.

Two new stories recently brought this point home for me.

“Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant,” a new paper published by the PLoS ONE journal, shows that in addition to having the capacity for emotional intelligence, the species also has the capacity to problem-solve.  The young elephant in that study showed that he had the smarts to use a box to elevate himself and reach otherwise impossibly distant food.

Stumpy's injuries are permanent (c. "Norwegian Killer Whales").

And a second report describes the reappearance of a severely disabled killer whale, named Stumpy, who has lead a tragic life highlighted by a disastrous run in with a large boat.  That accident left him scarred and unable to practice normal orca behavior like diving and hunting for fish.  But surprisingly, Stumpy has found a way to survive with a little help from entire pods of killer whales.  Those orcas, representing five separate pods, keep Stumpy from danger and help him feed by stunning fish for him.

The empathy, compassion and protective instinct shown by the pods of killer whales protecting Stumpy, and the true, problem solving intelligence shown by the young elephant are only two examples of the amazing discoveries we continue to find about animals.  And most wonderfully, stories like these change our perspective of animals and animal behavior. Instead of inhabiting a world of animals, we are able to take a snapshot view of a world according to animals.

If you haven’t yet seen IFAW’s World of Animals and would like to learn more click here.

-- Fred

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit https://ifaw.org

Post a comment

Experts

Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime