Animals Are Capable Of Love

Donna Antoinette Coleman FRSA and Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

Animals are just as capable as human beings of loving their partners, their families, their children, their leaders, their teachers, their friends and others who are important to them. An ape will show exactly the same signs of love and affection when dealing with her baby as a human mother will when dealing with her baby. Both will look longingly, tickle and play with their baby. Both feed their young, wash them, risk their lives for them and willingly put up with their noise and unruly behaviour.

Anyone who doubts that animals love their young should stand outside a farmyard when a calf has been taken away from a cow and listen to the heart-breaking cries of anguish which result. Cows have been known to trek miles to try to reach a calf from whom they have been parted.

Even fish will risk their lives to protect their young. In his seminal work The Universal Kinship (first published in 1906) J. Howard Moore described how he put his hand into a pond near the nest of a perch. The courageous fish guarding the nest chased Moore's hand away several times and nipped it vigorously when it was not removed quickly enough.

Lewis Gompertz, who lived from 1779 to 1861 and was a potent champion of the rights of blacks, women and the poor (and, indeed, all oppressed human beings) was also a powerful champion of animals. He was a founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In his book Moral Inquiries On the Situation Of Man And Of Brutes Gompertz wrote: `From some birds we may learn real constancy in conjugal affection, though in most instances their contracts only last for one season, but how strict do they keep this. They have no laws, no parchments, no parsons, no fear to injuring their characters, not even their own words to break in being untrue to each other: but their virtue is their laws, their parchments, their parsons, and their reputation; their deeds are their acts, their acts - their deeds: and from their own breasts do they honestly tear down to line the beds of their legitimate offspring.'

Gompertz described an incident illustrating the wisdom of blackbirds. `I observed a male blackbird flying about in an extreme state of agitation,' he wrote. `And on my going to discover the cause of it, the bird retreated from me as I followed it, till it stopped at a nest containing a female bird sitting upon her eggs, near which there was a cat: in consequence of this I removed the cat, and the bird became quiet. After that, whenever the cat was about the place, the blackbird would come near my window, and would in the same manner direct me to some spot where the cat happened to be stationed.'

J. Howard Moore described how monkeys may adopt the orphans of deceased members of their tribe and how two crows fed a third crow which was wounded. The wound was several weeks old and the two crows had clearly been playing `good Samaritans' for that time.

Charles Darwin wrote about a blind pelican which was fed with fish which were brought to it by pelican friends who normally lived thirty miles away.

And strong males in a herd of vicunas will lag behind to protect the weaker and slower members of their herd from possible predators.

Before slavery was abolished, black people who fell in love were regarded as enjoying simple `animal lust' as a result of `animal attraction'. The same things are, of course, said about animals (with just as little evidence to support it). Animal abusers argue that animals which seem to show love are merely acting according to instinct. However, the evidence proves that animals are perfectly capable of feeling complex emotions. Many animals are so loyal to one another that if one half of a couple dies the other may die shortly afterwards - consumed by grief.

Taken from The Wisdom of Animals by Donna Antoinette Coleman and Vernon Coleman, available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook.

Copyright Donna Antoinette Coleman and Vernon Coleman 2019