I firmly believe in the sentient nature of animals. Jacob often remarks that I am more likely to empathize with them than humans. He’s probably right. The idea of animal emotion is a hotbed for scientific debate and everyday contention. But should our inability to quantify such phenomena justify the argument that animals experience no emotion? Animal activist Jonathan Balcombe sets out to disprove such a claim in his book The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure. Illustrated with images by many leading wildlife photographers, the book is at once heavily scientific and immensely affectionate, entreating a reexamination of our relationship with other living beings. Have a peak at some of the images below, and read an excerpt from the book over at Wired.
“In humans, feelings of love are accompanied by changes in the brain’s chemistry. As people fall in love, the brain begins to release the hormones dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Animals show comparable biochemical changes in similar situations.”
Beluga whales and dolphins sometimes blow bubbles and then swim through them. This behavior happens more frequently in captivity, indicating it may be a way of breaking their boredom, like humans twiddling our thumbs.
Barbary macaques have been know to be fascinated by water. This macaque is evidently enchanted by the feel and action of the water, splashing away with glee for several minutes.
Image by Andrew Forsyth via Wired
And since we’re on the subject, are animals as obsessed with themselves as we are? The answer apparently is yes, at least when it comes to crested macaque monkeys. After spending three days shooting a group of the monkeys in an Indonesian national park, wildlife photographer David Slater got a bit of unexpected assistance. While Slater was distracted, one of the monkeys began playing with the remote shutter release of his tripod-mounted Canon 5D.
When he examined the memory card, Slater found hundreds of self portraits by the monkey and even a portrait of himself.
Happy Friday my dears!