Love among animals


Love among animals

By: Biol. Óscar Aranda Mena

In 1872, Charles Darwin wrote that animals can express affection, anger, terror, joy, pleasure, curiosity, pride and even shame.

Even today, there is a profound debate about whether animals are capable of experiencing the same sensations as humans; Science, in its eagerness to achieve objectivity, has remained ironically blind to the overwhelming evidence that is presented daily in all parts of the world.

Although Plato and Aristotle already analyzed the spiritual side of nature, Charles Darwin wrote in 1872 that animals can express affection, anger, terror, joy, pleasure, curiosity, pride and even shame.

Like it or not, we must start from a premise: all animals, regardless of whether they are vertebrates or invertebrates, can express affection, regardless of their degree of intelligence. It is called affective awareness and encompasses both the love and care that is given within a family and outside it, including both simple displays of affection and complex rituals that have the purpose of achieving mating or strengthening a deep and lasting relationship.

The world is full of examples and in the Bay of Banderas we have one, featuring the blue footed booby (Sula nebouxii), in which the male performs a sympathetic and complex dance where the purpose of the movement of his blue legs is to form a bond with his partner.

There is also the fiddler crab (Leptuca crenulata), who is willing to risk his life to get his mate, or the burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), which leads a monogamous and simple life.

There are also stranger but no less common relationships that occur, for example, between totally different species and “illogical” from the human point of view. Obviously, in these cases it is not about love but about simple and true friendship. If you go online or surf a bit on YouTube, you can see amazing videos of strange, and sometimes unlikely, friendly relationships between traditional predators and prey or between a deer and a rabbit, a terrestrial 45 year old turtle and a goose, a coyote and a lion, a cat and a mouse or a dog and a dolphin.

I ask you, my dear reader: if in society we openly accept the deep emotional bonds that can be created, for example, between a person and his dog or cat, why is it so difficult for us to accept that these links exist among other living beings? What makes us different from the sea otters that hold hands, from the penguins that give themselves rocks or from the prairie voles that get pleasure from being monogamous?

It all comes down to a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love, which is involved not only in the functioning of our memory, but also in aspects related to the formation of affective bonds, empathy and trust, among others. This hormone is generated naturally when we talk with friends who show us love and affection; or when we see, for example, moving or empathetic videos or images, like a kitten taking care of chicks or a Bengal tiger that has adopted several piglets.

Así es como llego al final, proponiéndole que en este mes del amor y la amistad, en lugar de mandar flores o chocolates (algo que hacen más del 70% de las personas), mande videos, tarjetas postales o electrónicas, GIF’s o memes divertidos de animales. Además de ser un regalo original, es más ecológico y, sobre todo, genera la misma oxitocina que un carísimo regalo floral. ¿Se anima?

In conclusion, I would like to propose that during this month of love and friendship, instead of sending flowers or chocolates (something that more than 70% of people do), send videos, electronic postcards, GIF’s or funny memes of animals. Besides being an original gift, it is more ecologically friendly, and, above all, it generates the same oxytocin as a very expensive floral gift. Are you encouraged?

Source: PDI Now!

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