When we gaze into the eyes of a wild animal, or even a beloved pet, can we ever really know what they might be thinking? Is it naive to assume they’re experiencing something close to human emotions? Or is it ridiculous to assume that they AREN’T feeling something like that? We get the story of a rescued whale that may have found a way to say thanks, ask whether dogs feel guilt, and wonder if a successful predator may have fallen in love…
The wonderfully talented Kevin Rasmussen emailed me a link to this Radiolab podcast - the conversation starts off with a group of people that managed to cut free a female humpback whale, which had become tangled in a web of nets that were keeping her from surfacing enough to breath. It’s a beautiful story - a tear jerking one, I should warn; I was telling Erica the story on our date a few nights ago and she started crying right at the dinner table :P
Now, I can’t say I was impressed with the first scientist they brought on, he either a) made a very piss-poor case for why animals are incapable of feeling thankful, relief, loss, love, etc; or b) he just doesn’t really know much of what he’s talking about. Forgiving that though, the other scientist they speak with, the one who collects and studies brains from different animals, is a very engaging piece of the podcast.