Sunday, March 24, 2013

Listening to Non-Human Animals

It is frustrating to me how humans under value and underestimate the richness of non-human animals intelligence, their lives, relationships with each other and overall awareness of the world around them.  Whether we are guilty of judging them as compared to humans or we only see them for their value to us as resources, food or clothing we negate their desire and right to live their lives.  They, no less than us, want to live.

This was driven home to me once again this morning as I listened to the American Public Media show, On Being.  Krista Tippett interviewed the acoustic biologist Katy Payne.  Ms. Payne discovered and documented the songs of humpback whales.  She moved on to study African elephant communication.  Her work points out just how little we know about the other creatures with whom we share this planet.  I simply cannot emphasize enough how new the field of animal behavior (ethology) is in comparison to other scientific fields of study. 

I urge you to listen to the show.  Not only is it informative, it's also touching.  The discussion starts on a positive note and finishes with a serious discussion of the plight of wild elephants from both poaching and culling.  You can listen to the show here: Whale Songs and Elephant Loves

For more information about Katy Payne and The Elephant Listening Project, visit these links:
Katy Payne
The Elephant Listening Project

I will end with a quote that was life altering for me:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

Henry Beston

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