30 Bananas a Day!

some of you are already familar with marc bekoff's work in animal cognition/emotions/sentience.

he's been mentioned in various threads on 30bad, most notably these:

are humans unique in the animal kingdom?

amazing animal altruism

if you don't know about this scientist, here's a onestop:

marc bekoff central

an excellent source of his work are to be found in his psychology today blog posts, animal emotions. his articles there are well-referenced and you'll be surprised how science refutes the animal abusers.

we will present a series of interesting items (in no particular order) on a regular basis in this thread. if the article is short, it will be copied in it's entirety and you can always follow the link in any case which appears at the end.

you'll find bekoff's work fascinating as information and useful as ammunition!

in friendship,


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Brain Scans Show Vegetarians and Vegans Are More Empathic than Omnivores

They appear to have more of an empathetic response to suffering

Every now and again we discover that some of our beliefs are supported by scientific research. Recent research using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) shows that "vegetarians and vegans appear to have more of an empathetic response to both human and animal suffering ... FMRI brain scans showed that the areas of the brain associated with empathy (such as the anterior cingulate cortex and the left inferior frontal gyrus in this study) were more activated in vegetarians and vegans compared to omnivores when all three groups were shown pictures of human or animal suffering. Written questionnaires on empathy, in both this and other studies, seem to confirm higher empathy levels in vegetarians and vegans (Preyo and Arkiwawa, 2008; Filippi et al 2010)." (I could not find the reference to Preyo and Arkiwawa, 2008 but the entire essay by Filippi et al., 2010 is here.)

in friendship,



Although not empirical science, I too have observed this.  In fact in theory, one of my animal rights tools is actually to focus more on diet first and AR secondary.  If I argue AR exclusively, then the law of the jungle arguments (yea, I know fallacy) come out and or our ancestors have been doing it thousands or years.  

Getting people to go veg, not even raw, just vegan with no animal or dairy products automatically seems to get them questioning the AR thing themselves.  

However, I have found that individuals who eat a high wheat/grain diet, while they may have good AR intentions, are still mean towards their fellow  humans and seems to have short tempers and or OCD compulsions.  

It is my opinion that grains are still high in some compounds like proteins, oxalates, pyrenes, amines, and some other things that are toxic to humans in large amounts and may affect the brain and or behaviors.  

I am doing some of my own independent observations and research on the matter and issue to be continued...  

Peace, PK

If I argue AR exclusively, then the law of the jungle arguments (yea, I know fallacy) come out and or our ancestors have been doing it thousands or years.

there is actually no "law of the jungle" though you are correct about the application of it being a fallacy (eg appeal to nature) as is the "thousands of years" bit (which is like both the appeal to tradition or even the genetic fallacy possibly).

the "law of the jungle" likely stems from the "survival of the fittest" slogan incorrectly attributed to darwin. it was actually coined by spencer (though darwin thought it was kind of catchy).

i don't think one should attack with just one weapon (eg AR) when there are so many to use. i prefer HEE (health, environment, ethics) as you know. i like to be well armed.

Getting people to go veg, not even raw, just vegan with no animal or dairy products automatically seems to get them questioning the AR thing themselves.
yes and if you reach people that way that's just fine. some find they are more inclined to use AR or compassion or environment. it depends upon where one's strengths and interests lie.

I have found that individuals who eat a high wheat/grain diet, while they may have good AR intentions, are still mean towards their fellow  humans and seems to have short tempers and or OCD compulsions

well i guess it would depend upon the humans, but there is no excuse for short tempers or compulsions. wheat/grains can have drawbacks since there are large proteins in them - nothing like animal stuff - but they can trigger various problems of a similar nature sometimes. allergies to wheat in particular is well-established in the literature. here's something that may be useful for your research:


in friendship,


A Devoted Single Beaver Father Does It All

Single male called Dad raises young after his mate died

I hope this touching story makes your day as it did mine. A single male beaver called "Dad" living near Martinez, California is raising his 3 children on his own. Dad's mate died after getting a bad infection and he was left to care for their three youngsters, two about 7-8 weeks old and another around 2 years of age.

The story goes as follows: "After Mom died, Dad disappeared for three days. Ms [Heidi] Perryman [president of Worth A Dam] heard the babies whining for food and comfort deep into the night. When they finally spotted dad after he was grieving, he appeared 'a little looser in the skin, a little older.' From then on, Dad was the champion of his family. Worth A Dam recorded him bringing gourmet branches to his three babies to nourish them. The group recorded Dad teaching his babies how to swim with piggyback rides around the creek and how to gather food and chomp on wood for the dam."


in friendship,


Victims of vanity: Wearing animals is donning pain and suffering

The fur industry is guilty of untold torture and tries to hide it

While on the one hand I apologize for the horrific nature of this posting, on the other hand it's essential to get the truth out about the horrors of the fur industry. Born Free has recently released a report on the unbelievable cruelt... and it clearly shows just how horrible and terrifying it can be for the animals involved, way beyond most people's imagination. Countless sentient beings are treated brutally and killed using methods ranging from leghold trapping to snaring to chest crushing, suffocating, and drowning. There are very few regulations governing fur trapping and these are routinely violated with little or no oversight. There also is enormous "collateral damage" because non-target animals are routinely killed. All the gory details are available at this website and state-by-state details are available here.

It's important to remember, that when someone chooses to wear animals, and it is a choice, it's a matter of who they're wearing, not what they're wearing. They've chosen to wear an animal who has died unnecessarily for vanity or warmth. And, they don't have to do it. 

It's easy to find durable and affordable non-animal alternatives so it's really simple to remove untold cruelty from the world with little or no effort. Thank you for doing this. I'm sure the animals would thank you if they could. I deeply apologize for ruining your day but please keep in mind that cruelty can't stand the spotlight and each of us can easily make a positive difference in the lives of numerous animals.


in friendship,


Bears Can "Count"

They can discriminate between groups of dots on a touchscreen.

Just this morning as I was walking up the road to my house I spied on a huge male black bear taking a casual morning stroll. He was about 25 feet away, looked at me, and continued walking but I hurried home nonetheless. I love living among different animals and give them their space because I'm the intruder. So, when I got home and saw a recent essay about the numerical abilities of bears, I thought this was a wonderful coincidence, and that the results of a recent study were well worth sharing.

A few months ago I wrote about the mathematical abilities of pigeons and suggested that while the new results that these birds can form abstract rules about numbers were very interesting they were not all that surprising given what we know about the behavior of wild birds.

Now we know that black bears can "count" and they join a large group of animals who have what researchers call numerical competency. Of the three bears trained to discriminate groups of dots on a touchscreen, "two bears learned to pick the group with fewer dots, while the third learned to choose the group with more dots."

Some of the highlights of this study include:

► "This is the first demonstration of quantity estimation in bears. ► A nonsocial species can enumerate moving stimuli and subsets of stimuli. ► Bears predominantly appeared to use area but could also use number as a cue. ► Bears showed effects of ratio and difference comparable to those of primates. ► Bears performed ‘better’ when choosing ‘larger’ relative to ‘smaller’ amounts"

The abstract of the original research report can be seen here. A snippet from the abstract reads as follows. "Studies of bear cognition are notably missing from the comparative record despite bears' large relative brain size and interesting status as generalist carnivores facing complex foraging challenges, but lacking complex social structures. We investigated the numerical abilities of three American black bears, Ursus Americanus, by presenting discrimination tasks on a touch-screen computer. ... All of the bears were above chance on trials of both types with static dots. Despite encountering greater difficulty with dots that moved within the arrays, one bear was able to discriminate numerically larger arrays of moving dots, and a subset of moving dots from within the larger array, even when area and number were incongruent. Thus, although the bears used area as a cue to guide their responses, they were also able to use number as a cue. The pattern of performance was similar to that found previously with monkeys, and suggests that bears may also show other forms of sophisticated quantitative abilities."

Stay tuned for more on the fascinating cognitive abilities of nonhuman animals.


in friendship,


Grieving Animals: Saying Goodbye to Friends and Family

Many animals hold what can be called funeral services.

Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings

Didn't we already know this? Yes we did

Every now and again I receive an email message I ignore after reading the subject line. I know I'm not alone in following this rule of thumb, but today I broke down and opened a message the subject line of which read "Scientists Declare: Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious". I honestly thought it was a joke, likely from one of my favorite newspapers, The Onion. However, it wasn't.

My colleague Michael Mountain published a summary of a recent meeting held in Cambridge, England at which "Science leaders have reached a critical consensus: Humans are not the only conscious beings; other animals, specifically mammals and birds, are indeed conscious, too." At this gathering, called The Francis Crick Memorial Conference, a number of scientists presented evidence that led to this self-obvious conclusion. It's difficult to believe that those who have shared their homes with companion animals didn't already know this. And, of course, many renowned and award-winning field researchers had reached the s... (see also).

Michael Mountain was as incredulous as I and many others about something we already knew. It's interesting to note that of the 15 notables who spoke at this conference only one has actually done studies of wild animals. It would have been nice to hear from researchers who have conducted long-term studies of wild animals, including great apes, other nonhuman primates, social carnivores, cetaceans, rodents, and birds, for example, to add to the database. Be that as it may, I applaud their not so surprising conclusion and now I hope it will be used to protect animals from being treated abusively and inhumanely. 

Some might say we didn't really know that other animals were conscious but this is an incredibly naive view given what we know about the neurobiology and cognitive and emotional lives of other animals. Indeed, it was appeals to these very data that led to the conclusions of this group of scientists. But did we really need a group of internationally recognized scientists to tell us that the data are really okay?  Yes and no, but let's thank them for doing this. 

I agree with Michael Mountain that "It’s a really important statement that will be used as evidence by those who are pushing for scientists to develop a more humane relationship with animals. It’s harder, for example, to justify experiments on nonhumans when you know that they are conscious beings and not just biological machines. Some of the conclusions reached in this declaration are the product of scientists who, to this day, still conduct experiments on animals in captivity, including dolphins, who are among the most intelligent species on Earth. Their own declaration will now be used as evidence that it’s time to stop using these animals in captivity and start finding new ways of making a living."

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

The scientists went as far as to write up what's called The Cambridge Decalration on Consciousness that basically declares that this prominent international group of scientists agree that "Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates." They could also have included fish, for whom the evidence supporting sentience and consciousness is also compelling (see also).  

So, what are we going to do with what we know (and have known)?

It's fair to ask what are these scientists and others going to do now that they agree that consciousness is widespread in the animal kingdom. We know, for example, that mice, rats, and chickens display empathy but this knowledge hasn't been factored into the Federal Animal Welfare....

I'm frankly astounded that these data and many other findings about animal cognition and animal emotions have been ignored by those who decide on regulations about the use and abuse of other animals. However, the Treaty of Lisbon, passed by member states of the European Union that went into force on December 1, 2009, recognizes that "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."

Let's applaud The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness and The Treaty of Lisbon and work hard to get animals the protection from invasive research and other forms of abuse, in many cases horrifically inhumane, they deserve.

Some recent essays I've written point out that there still are some people who feel comfortable killing individuals who they call "unneeded" or "surplus" animals and at least one animal welfarist, Oxford University's Marian Dawkins, continued as of a few months ago to claim we still don't know if other animals are conscious and that we should "remain skeptical and agnostic [about consciousness] ... Militantly agnostic if necessary, because this keeps alive the possibility that a large number of species have some sort of conscious experiences ... For all we know, many animals, not just the clever ones and not just the overtly emotional ones, also have conscious experiences."

Perhaps what I call "Dawkins' Dangerous Idea" will now finally be shelved given the conclusions of the Cambridge gathering. I frankly don't see how anyone who has worked closely with any of a wide array of animals or who lives with a companion animal(s) could remain uncertain and agnostic about whether they are conscious. 

It's said that repetition is boring conversation but there's now a wealth of scientific data that makes skepticism, and surely agnosticism, to be anti-science and harmful to animals. Now, at last, the prestigious Cambridge group shows this to be so. Bravo for them! So, let's all work together to use this information to stop the abuse of millions upon millions of conscious animals in the name of science, education, food, amusement and entertainment, and clothing. We really owe it to them to use what we know on their behalf and to factor compassion and empathy into our treatment of these amazing beings.


some 'scientists' are just duh ... or quite often even financed by animal abusers.

in friendship,


here's a post on care2 on the same topic (sent to be by sarah www.cfawr.org).

in friendship,



Scientists Proclaim Animal and Human Consciousness the Same

Scientists Proclaim Animal and Human Consciousness the Same

We declare the following:  The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

To many pet parents and animal lovers, the conference only confirms what they already believed through their own observations and interactions with animals – albeit, not with the credibility of scientific research.

Stephen Hawking — considered the greatest mind in physics since Albert Einstein — was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony.  The declaration was authored by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch, all well-respected neuroscientists.  The signing was memorialized by 60 Minutes.

Joseph Dial, former Executive Director of the Mind Science Foundation, explains why this declaration is historic and groundbreaking:

What is Consciousness?

There is an important distinction between intelligence and consciousness.  Intelligence is measured by the “capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.”  So, is it fair to say humans are more intelligent than animals?  Animals certainly have a capacity for learning.  They cannot create an atomic bomb; maybe that should define them as smart?

The dictionary defines consciousness as “aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.”   Take a good, hard look at your pet; for that matter, watch a zoo elephant or a deer in the woods.  They are always aware of their own existence.  They feel pain and other sensations.  Your dog may get annoyed with you if you tease him with a treat for too long before tossing it his way.  A deer caught in your headlights feels fear before deciding to take flight.  Elephants mourn their family members just like humans.

What This Means for the Future

For millennia, humans have held onto their hubris regarding the belief in human superiority.  Perhaps The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness will inspire a different attitude and further research into the minds of all non-human creatures.

Starting with animal rights through to veganism, changing the minds of those who believe humans are “top dog” will be a challenge.  Notable scientists formally recognizing animal consciousness on a level with humans should make for some interesting conversations.


Gorilla Joy Without a Doubt

Let's stop pretending we don't know what animals feel

Here's a wonderful story that'll make your day. After three years apart, two gorilla brothers, Kesho and Alf, were reunited at Longleat Safari Park in the UK. They were separated when Kesho was sent to London Zoo to breed. Their reunion has hit the press because it's so clear what Kesho and Alf are feeling—deep and uninhibited joy. A series of photos of the reunion can be seen here and there are stories about this wonderful reunion here and here. As someone who's studied nonhuman animal (animal) behavior and animal emotions for decades I'm thrilled to see the press feature these sorts of events showing just how emotional other animals truly are.

Gorilla joy with a capital J

In her wonderful story about Kesho and Alf, accompanied by photographs and a video, biologist and gorilla researcher Dr. Charlotte Uhlenbroek nicely sums up this wonderful reunion: "The photographs in yesterday’s Mail of two gorilla brothers hugging each other in delight at being reunited after three years apart are deeply moving. The affection is unmistakeable. They react just as human brothers might. It’s heartwarming but not at all surprising to me. Many years spent working in the wild with these beautiful animals and their close cousins the chimpanzees have convinced me that the great apes have a range of powerful emotions identical to our own." This is joy with a capital J. 

Dr. Uhlenbroek's concluding sentence says it all: "Deep emotion is invisible, intangible . . . but whatever it is, our cousins have got it too."

I like to say that emotions are gifts of our ancestors. And, paraphrasing Charles Darwin's arguments about evolutionary continuity, I offer that "If we have something, 'they' (other animals) have it too." So let's stop pretending we don't know what these brothers and other animals are feeling when they so clearly display a wide range of emotions.

Critics often say something like "Oh, you're just being anthropomorphic" when we speak about animal emotions. However, it's not being anthropomorphic to say we know other animals have deep and rich emotional lives because we're not inserting something human into animals. Rather, we're identifying commonalities and then using human language to communicate what we observe. It's simply bad biology to rob other animals of their emotional lives. Anthropomorphism is not anti-science

in friendship,


Should We Kill Animals Who Presumably Attack Humans?

One hunter says "yes" absent supporting data that it works

A friend of mine just sent me a link to an essay in which the author claims we should kill animals who kill humans. Throughout, the author, Jackson Landers, refers to nonhumans as "that" and "it" but clearly the animals about whom he writes are sentient beings and should be referred to as "who".

Landers is a hunter who spent a year and a half hunting and eating invasive nonhuman species throughout North America, the details of which are chronicled in his forthcoming book called Eating Aliens.

Landers' essay is a bit too sensationalistic and fast for my liking. He begins with a story about an alligator who bit off an arm of a teenager in a river in southwe... and also writes about Australian "crocodile hunter" Steve Irwin who was killed when a stingray's barb pierced his heart. Next he writes about "man-eating" predators, noting along the way that attacks really are rather rare—"hunting humans is not normal behavior among predators." Landers also writes about a huge crocodile named Gustave living in Burundi who presumably had eaten as many as 300 people as of 2008.

Are presumed  "man-eaters" really repeat performers? Is killing them "good for their species?"

One of Landers' claims is that if the rare "man-eater" is killed it will be good for others of their species. This suggestion, and that's all it is, sounds interesting, but detailed data about the conservation benefits of killing are lacking. 

Furthermore, we don't really know if there are repeat killers. Landers writes: "These repeat performances are typical among man-eaters of many species. Bears, lions, tigers, leopards, alligators, crocodiles, cougars. Possibly sharks as well, assuming (my emphasis) the 1916 attacks that inspired Jaws were in fact the work of a single shark. The man-eater is exceptional. It isn't a normal predator. The idea that the man-eater is an innocent totem of nature while man is the guilty interloper simply does not hold up to scrutiny." 

Once again, Landers provides no data for his claim that there really are repeat performers. Indeed, I've asked people about this many times because of my own long-term interests in the behavior of predators who very rarely do harm human beings.

We are the most invasive species who has ever roamed Earth, redecorating nature willy-nilly with little regard about the lives of the other animals into whose homes and lives we've trespassed. When we choose to live or go where dangerous animals live there is a risk involved.

I'd be the first to agree that there are chance encounters with predators when we roam about in their living rooms, having personally had some very close calls (see also) with black bears and cougars who live around my house. But I wouldn't ever want the individuals I met harmed or killed because they harmed or killed me, and I have never seen any data that suggest that killing them would help others of their kind.

Landers conclusion also is a bit over the top. He writes: "Unless the species' numbers are so low that genetic diversity is in immediate danger, there is no advantage to letting an animal like Gustave live. The consequences of leaving a man-eater in the wild, whether it is the brown bear that devoured Timothy Treadwell or the gator that swam off with Kaleb Langdale's arm, are terrible for nearly everyone concerned."

Really? Did the bear who killed Timothy Treadwell and his female partner or the alligator who attacked Kaleb Langdale have a previous record of attacking humans? 

The reason for letting these animals live, including presumed "man-eaters", is that they were doing what comes naturally to them, as horrific and sad as the results of their tragic attacks are. I am not saying what they did is just fine, but if they're caught and reliably identified I'd like to see them go to a place where they can live out their lives rather than be killed. Reliable identification of wild animals has always been a problem in these and other scenarios and we need to have more than merely guesses when the life of an animal is on the line. That individuals "get the taste for blood" after attacking a human seems to be one of those myths that lives on and on. 

Who lives, who dies, and why? Should we kill in the name of conservation?

The growing field of compassionate conservation (see also) deals with questions including "Who lives, who dies, and why?" and "Should we kill in the name of conservation?" These and other questions that involve taking an animal's life deserve more than Landers' cursory analyses and decidely anthropocentric garble filled with suppositions that lead him to claim they should be killed because everyone concerned will benefit.


if the answer to landers' question is yes, then logically we should kill humans who kill humans as well (humans being a subset of animals) ... for the good of the species (blah, blah blah). unfortunately, doing so could cause some difficulties for those who support the war machine, the drug industry, the corpse industries (eg meat, dairy, eggs), the cigarette industry, the alcohol industry, the auto industry etc etc etc.

the only reason, all noble utilitarian pretensions aside, landers wants to kill these predators who occasionally harm humans, is because the guy just wants to kill.

in friendship,


"Natasha Einstein" the Chimpanzee Valedictorian

A new look at chimpanzee multiple intelligences reveals genius

We all know that chimpanzees and other animals are extremely intelligent and deeply emotional. And now a recent and extremely detailed study shows just how smart chimpanzees can be and that there are measurable individual differences in intelligence. Esther Herrmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and her colleague Josep Call have discovered that a female chimpanzee named Natasha was the smartest of the 106 chimpanzees they tested. The abstract for their original research article can be found here

During their study the researchers "noticed a wide range of skills among the chimps and wondered whether they could measure this variation in ability—and whether there were studies that could predict the chimps’ overall performance in all areas, like an IQ test in humans. So they gave a battery of physical and social tests to 106 chimps at Ngamba Island and the Tchimpounga chimpanzee sanctuary in the Republic of the Congo, and to 23 captive chimpanzees and bonobos in Germany. In one experiment, chimps were asked to find food in a container after it had been shuffled around with empty containers. In another, they had to use a stick to get food placed on a high platform. The researchers analyzed the data to determine if the scores in some tests helped predict performance in others."


in friendship,




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