Ideas

The Enright Files: A deep dive into the complex, emotional lives of animals

The notion that animals are intelligent, thinking, feeling beings with rich and complex emotional lives is part of mythology and folklore. But now science is taking a second look at the behaviour of animals and reassessing the complexity of animal minds.
Donkeys are considered intelligent, loyal and affectionate. (Yiorgos GR / Shutterstock)
Listen to the full episode53:58

The notion that animals are intelligent, thinking, feeling beings with rich and complex emotional lives is part of mythology and folklore — of fantasy movies and children's literature.

Until relatively recently, though, it has not been a mainstream idea in science ... or in the way so much of human society treats animals in the real world.

But as science grapples with just how little it knows about the mysteries of human consciousness, it's also taking a second look at the behaviour of animals, and reassessing the complexity of animal minds. That, in turn, is raising profound questions about the ways in which we humans value, and use, animals — and what our obligations are to them.

This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the inner lives and sophisticated behaviour of animals, and humans' relationship with them.

We don't often think of a sheep as having a complex inner life but professor Marc Bekoff argues we don't really know animals and their minds very well. He sees evidence of animal intellect and emotion in countless examples. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Guests in this episode:

  • Graeme Gibson died this past September. He was a Canadian writer and conservationist, and the author of The Bedside Book of Birds.
  • Isa Leshko is a photographer and writer. She's the author of Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals on Farm Sanctuaries.
  • Marc Bekoff is a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. He's the author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.
     


* This episode was published by Chris Wodskou.

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