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When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals    by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson & Susan McCarthy order for
When Elephants Weep
by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Order:  USA  Can
Delta, 1996 (1995)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The authors address a question, that of the emotional capacity of animals, that has always aroused strong feelings across the scientific divide. On one side are countless individuals who share their daily lives with animals such as cats and dogs, and are wholly convinced of their ability to feel and to share emotions. On the other have been scientists with a horror of the 'sin of anthropomorphism', and very reluctant to accept the feeling nature of fellow creatures on whom they at times conduct horrific experiments.

The authors make many references to Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees, to Roger Fouts' experiences with the now famous chimp Washoe (described in his remarkable book Next of Kin), and to many other researchers who work with dolphins, bears, wolves, elephants, giraffes, parrots and even ants (an extensive bibliography is appended). He addresses a wide spectrum of emotions from fear, love, grief, joy and rage to compassion, shame and aesthetic appreciation.

The points are cogent, such as that 'One should demand no more proof that an animal feels an emotion than would be demanded of a human' and, unfortunately that 'It has always been comforting to the dominant group to assume that those in subservient positions do not suffer or feel pain as keenly, or at all'. Read When Elephants Weep and you will glimpse a rich world of feeling fellow creatures who are 'innocent sufferers in a hell of our making.' It is informative and delightful and should make us all weep.

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