Animals and Emotions

Writing Challenge: Jan 7, 2018

Prompt: Answer the question- do animals have emotions

Stories about Koko the gorilla fascinate me. She was an intelligent, caring, and  loved both her caretakers and kittens. Through sign language she communicated her thoughts and feelings in ways that we, as humans, never thought possible in other creatures before. Koko taught us that we are not unique in our desire to share our feelings.


Koko is not the only creature we’ve learned the valuable lesson of emotional universality from. We have observed elephants traveling to the final resting place of their loved ones. We’ve watched this phenomena for decades. We’ve watched as the elephants visiting displayed “human-like” signs of anguish and loss. We called these places of mourning “elephant graveyards” and included them in children’s movies.


We have seen our pets’ excitement when we come home at night and their anxiety when those they love are away. We have observed the playfulness and cheerfulness of joking dolphins, and heard the angry call and swooping wings of grudge-holding crows.


In reality, it is no longer a question as to whether animals experience emotions; we know they do. Brain scans, lab studies, observations conducted in homes, zoos, reserves, and the wild have all confirmed this. We know that emotions are not a uniquely human experience- it’s one more thing we all share.

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