Can animals experience grief


Because pets play such a big role in our daily lives, we often view them as being not too dissimilar to ourselves. In fact, we often put our own values, wants, and desires on them, and assume that they too would feel and think the same as us. But, the fact of the matter is that we don’t know that for sure. It’s more of an instinctive thing that we do without even really thinking about it.

We have long pondered whether or not animals can emote and feel the same things that we do. One of the big ones is grief – and a lot of us might think that our pets can experience grief, but do we know for sure? Animal behavior is so interesting, and they share as many similarities with as they do differences So, let’s look at whether or not animals can experience grief, as well as other types of human emotion.

Change perspective

As human beings, we are naturally arrogant, and we consider ourselves the dominant species in the world. And perhaps we are, but that doesn’t mean that we are the only ones capable of certain feelings and emotions. We need to get out of the mentality that we are much smarter than animals, and that they don’t have proper feelings. This is an arrogant mindset to have, and something that we need to change. Altering our perspective is important to begin understanding the way animals think and feel.

We know elephants do

One animal we know for definite does experience grief is the elephant. In fact, elephants are very similar to humans in a lot of ways. And they are the only animal other than humans that we know for sure mourns their dead. In fact, studies have shown that elephants are known to caress the bodies of their dead, and stay with them for many days. They have even been known, in some cases, to carry dead carcasses for up to half a mile, and bury them. Elephants bury their dead which makes their approach to death almost identical to that of humans.

Other examples

Elephants are a big one, but they aren’t the only animal that tests have found to have emotional responses to death. Chimps and monkeys make noises of distress whenever one of their kind dies, or they encounter a dead body. Dolphins are known to defend and respect their dead as well, while crows are known to have funerals for fallen comrades. There are other documented examples of animals showing emotion and feeling in the wake of their species being killed. And, did you know, lions are thought to be the most cold-hearted mammals. You thought we were going to say cats, didn’t you?!

It’s clear that, while not all animals are capable of experiencing or showing grief, some most certainly are. Mammals are often the ones to show emotion and grief in the event of finding one of their own has been killed. However, crows have also shown a capacity to mourn the loss of a friend or family member as well.