Female trophy hunters lack empathy

The emotional world of animals

The ability to love

connects humans and animals. · Image: yanlev, fotolia.com

Love, empathy and intelligence

From Julia Brunke

We humans are convinced that our feelings - love, sadness, friendship, empathy - are what makes us human. Many believe that this is the gap between humans and animals.

The French veterinarian and psychologist Claude Béata, on the other hand, is convinced that animals like us have feelings. In his new book "The Daring of Love" he gives a fascinating insight into the emotional world of animals. In touching example stories, underpinned by the latest scientific findings, he shows that animals are more than just drive-controlled machines: Like us, they can be loyal, suffer, love and have the ability to empathize. Because love is existential, not only for us, but also for animals. The ability to love connects humans and animals.

The behavioral biologist Dr. Immanuel Birmelin has been researching the memory performance and emotional levels of animals for decades, whether in lions and tigers, chimpanzees or dogs and cats. Based on research results, it proves that animals can make decisions, are capable of targeted problem solving and, like us, live in a world of emotions.

"We can learn something from animals," says Claude Béata with conviction. “Even if they don't have our cognitive abilities - but do we have theirs? -, share with us the world of basic emotions. By observing and understanding them, we also know ourselves and our own species better. "

Because in more highly developed animals everything exists that we generally believe to be reserved for humans. The difference between humans and animals is more of a degree than an essential one: when the veterinarian and psychologist reports of loyal desert voles, grieving elephants or the maternal love of cats, he makes it clear how similar human and animal emotional ties are. We have common roots with animals - there is an unbroken chain of being.

Love is existential

for us humans and also for animals. · Image: fotowebbox, fotolia.com

You are more like us than many think

All his life, Immanuel Birmelin has been concerned with the question of why there is such a deep rift between humans and animals, why for many people animals are like objects that are exploited for their own benefit, and why many people show so little empathy for animals. “The facts of modern biology speak a different language. They show that the transitions are fluid, ”wrote Birmelin at the beginning of his book“ Animally intelligent ”.

"Not so long ago representatives of the white race denied their own conspecifics, the black population, the same intellectual abilities," recalls the behavioral biologist. “It was and is a long, hard struggle until humanity realizes that all human beings have the same potential intellectual abilities. That does not mean that we are all equally intelligent, but that intelligence has something to do with personality and its development opportunities. "

The idea that animals are something like things

goes back to the church teachers Augustine (345-430) and Thomas von Aquin (1225-1274) · Image: Rita Kochmarjova · fotolia.com

Antiquated ideas to this day?

The idea that animals are something like things goes back to the doctors of the church Augustine (345-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). According to Augustine, animals cannot have sensations like humans. According to the teaching of the Doctor of the Church Thomas Aquinas, animals have no souls - and neither do women. René Descartes (1596-1650) philosopher and Jesuit student, took up this teaching and denied animals not only the ability to think, but also their feelings and soul. Animals are numb like machines or automatons: "Their screams of pain mean nothing more than the squeak of a wheel!"

"because it feels like you feel the pain"

Descartes' philosophical system shaped and shaped the philosophy and church doctrine of the West. "In his world of thought, animals were things and objects, and until a few years ago they were also in the judiciary, with fatal consequences for animals," writes Immanuel Birmelin. "This opened the door to acts of cruelty to animals." Although animal protection was included in the Basic Law as a state goal in 2002, little has changed in this regard.

The researcher points out that a multi-billion dollar industry demonstrates every day in a macabre way that animals have feelings like us: “In the laboratories of the pharmaceutical companies they look for substances that influence the human psyche. You test pain relievers on rats, anxiety relievers on mice or antidepressants on chimpanzees. «This is only possible because the animals are so similar to us. The findings from pain research are also largely based on animal experiments. Nevertheless, many people do not want to apply the simple knowledge "... because it feels like you the pain" to animals.

"To deny animals the ability to suffer is extremely implausible and lacks any reasonable justification," writes Immanuel Birmelin. "Pain perception is a biologically universal principle."

Primates give culture techniques,

how to use tools to pass on to their children. · Image: Larisa Kursina · fotolia.com


Modern science knows today how nerve cells communicate with each other when learning and remembering. These biochemical processes are almost identical in animals and us humans. "Life is a continuum without sharp borders," says Birmelin.

Behavioral researchers observed chimpanzees in the Tai Forest National Park of Ivory Coast who used a hammer-anvil technique to crack hard coula nuts: A broad, sturdy branch - best notched so that the nut cannot slip - is called an anvil, a Wooden club used as a hammer. The most skilled among them calculated their power so that the nut would not crush. Another sensation was that adult monkeys were actively teaching their children the technique and demonstrating how to hold the hammer. In this case one can even speak of a tradition or culture.

Immanuel Birmelin wanted to know how people solve this problem of cracking nuts. His test subjects were 17 students in the 13th grade of a Freiburg grammar school. He simulated the jungle conditions: “In the classroom I emptied three large sacks of potting soil on the floor of the room, which was previously covered with foil. The ground had to be as soft as the jungle floor. On the floor I put 5 pieces of wood of different thickness and weight. One could be used as an anvil, the other could be used as a hammer. Now I asked the students to leave the room and called in one by one: They should try their luck to open the Brazil nuts with the aids presented. "

He hadn't suspected what happened next: “Some people kept laying the nut on the ground and beating it with force. To no avail, of course, as the ground was soft and the impact was dampened. But they did not understand the connection. Like the other, he took two pieces of wood in his hands and tried to crush the nut. The nut held up. Still others tried different techniques and got through
Trial and error on correct application. Only five of the students immediately used the hammer anvil technique. Nine students could not open the nut. «The explanation:» Our young people have seldom seen the use of a hammer and anvil live. They don't have the knowledge to even think. Thought processes do not fall from the sky, but depend on our knowledge. And what knowledge we acquire naturally depends on our socio-cultural background. ”Incidentally, this also applies to chimpanzee children.

Modern scientists have shown that squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, and sea lions are capable of abstract reasoning. Using experimental set-ups, they solved tasks that would stumble some people. Because logical thinking must also be trained in people. Incidentally, sea lions are also among the front runners among animals in terms of spatial imagination.

“We judge animals lightly and claim that they cannot do this or that. In reality we don't know them enough, «concludes behavioral researcher Immanuel Birmelin. “Probably the ability to solve problems by reasoning is much more widespread than we ever dreamed of.

Time and again there are sensational reports of animals that are considered to be particularly intelligent by human standards. Immanuel Birmelin reports on Alex, the African gray parrot, who was able to distinguish and correctly name quantities of up to six as well as triangles, squares, pentagons and hexagons at the numbers at the corners - a pentagon was called "five corner" for him. Alex was able to correctly name the color and material (wood, cork, metal, ...) of objects. If you showed him a key, he said "key". If you showed him a red and a green pencil with the question "What`s different?", He answered "color". If you showed him two keys that looked the same and asked "What`s different?", He replied "none".

The Border Collie Rico can tell the names of 200 plush animals and toys apart and retrieves them when prompted. Dr. Birmelin reports how Juliane Kaminski from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig checked whether Rico simply has a very good memory, or whether he also thinks: »Ms. Kaminski selected around 15 familiar toys, added something unknown and gave him the name Hahn. Rico knew neither toys nor words before. "When asked," Rico, fetch the rooster, "he carefully looked for the right toy and brought it. “That was conclusive proof that
Dogs can think, ”writes Birmelin. “Rico followed a process of elimination: I know all the objects and their names, except the new one, so it has to be named Hahn. Toddlers use the same principle to grasp new words. "

Joy in thinking

Animals can feel joy. Modern emotion research proves this through many neurophysiological experiments. When you are happy, the nerve cells of the brain release the signaling substance dopamine. Dopamine is a transmitter that transmits information from one nerve cell to the other.

"The idea of ​​making animals happy is so foreign to many pet owners that they just shake their heads when you talk about it," writes behavioral scientist Dr. Immanuel Birmelin in his book "Animal Intelligence". "I think positive feelings have a similar effect on the immune system in animals as they do in humans." We can give animals pleasure not only with food, but above all with mental stimulation. Dogs like to solve brain teasers. Apparently they like to use their brains to solve problems.

Birmelin points out that this idea is not new in brain research and psychiatry: “In the opinion of the psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer, the brain was created in order to be occupied and to solve problems. Not thinking and just resting is more detrimental to the brain's metabolism. "

Empathy, solidarity and affection

Affection are universal concepts that apply to both humans and animals. · Picture: pictureguy32 · fotolia.com


People who live with animals know from their own experience: Every cat, every dog, every horse has its own personality, both in encounters with fellow species and with us humans. No animal is like the other: They can be self-confident or shy, brave and full of exploration, or fearful. Some are playful, others tricky, some put on a show like actors. Some are incredibly smart, can open doors, find every gap in the fence. Some are "bosses" and leaders, others are not impressed by the "show" of others, still others have a peaceful and balancing effect, some subordinate themselves, others do not want to dance to the tune.

Surely you now had pictures in your head of animals that you know well and that have exactly these characteristics or are completely different!

"Despite all the differences in the attempt to define personality in animals, most scientists agree that animals have a personality," writes Immanuel Birmelin in "Animal Intelligence".

All creatures

necessarily need a bond from birth that gives them a secure foundation. · Image: Valentine · fotolia.com

Motherly love

Mother's love is very important for an individual - whether human or animal. The Canadian psychiatrist Michael Meany and his team showed in rats that babies who experience a lot of maternal love from their mothers and are licked frequently are better equipped for their later life and are better able to cope with stressful situations. “How can you explain such a sensational finding?” Asks Birmelin, referring to modern biochemistry and epigenetics: “How the mother interacts with the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid / DNA contains the genetic information, the 'genetic material' of cells) of the Young animal. «The mother's licking and cleaning influences her resistance to stress. “In baby rats that were well cared for by their mothers, unlike neglected babies, cells in certain regions (hypothalamus) of the brain are found that can bind more estrogen (hormones). Estrogen, in turn, influences caring behavior. These children will raise their boys more lovingly than the boys who have received little care. "

Does mother love or lack of mother love leave similar traces in humans? “Michael Meany and his team asked themselves that question. His research results suggest that children raised with love also have a better chance of coping with unusually high levels of stress later in life. "

Claude Béata was able to convince himself again and again in his veterinary clinic that animal mothers know the number of their young very well. He vividly reports on a young mother cat who, with her five little ones, offered the image of maternal care. When a little feline child was brought to the clinic, he dared an experiment: he placed the orphaned kitten near the mother cat who was nursing her children. “When the kitten whistled ... she suddenly raised her head and looked at each of her own kittens, first intently, then restlessly. If she had only done it once, I would have doubted it, but since she did it several times, I put my hand in the fire for counting her young. Of course none was missing, but there was still a kitten nearby. ”The vet reports how the mother cat carefully approaches the strange baby, he sniffs, goes back to her own little ones, moving her ears incessantly because the strange kitten keeps moving beeps. Finally she goes back to the strange kitten, licks it off, grabs it by the neck and carries it to her children. “I concluded that love knows how to count, but not for selfish reasons. The cat 'knew' that the kitten's only chance of survival was to find someone to take care of it. "

The vet is convinced that every kitten is unique and unmistakable. The mother cat behaves in a specific way towards each individual. “The bond exists for everyone. It is a shell that does not dictate the content of the relationship. In this relationship, positive exchange and joy prevail, but the mother also sets rules. These too differ depending on how the boys behave. "

It is particularly moving

when animal mothers adopt orphaned babies. · Image: Larisa Kursina · fotolia.com

More and more researchers

encounter "humane" manners in animals such as empathy, compassion, helpfulness, selflessness, willingness to make sacrifices, justice, friendship, a sense of community, reconciliation. · Ild: Kara · fotolia.com

Elephants do not abandon any member of the herd.

Image: Jean-Marc Strydom · fotolia.com

Attachment and freedom

Bonding also gives us and the animals freedom of choice. This is made clear by a scene that was filmed in an African nature park: a mother elephant gives birth to a child. The three-year-old elephant daughter helps with the birth and care of the newborn while the herd waits. But the baby elephant does not manage to get on its feet. Now is the time of the great drought and the herd is on the way to the next watering hole. Without water, the survival of the whole herd is at risk.The leading animals show restlessness. "Everything indicates that the wellbeing of all and the bond with individuals, the survival of the herd and solidarity with each individual member must be weighed up and finally a decision must be made," writes Béata. “The conflict is resolved by the lead bull, who sets off in the direction of the next suspected waterhole. The whole herd follows him with the exception of our trio: the immobile newborn, the mother who has to stay with her boy, and her daughter who - I am inclined to think - is torn. "

The three-year-old elephant's daughter steps restlessly on the spot, swings her head between the herd and her mother with the newborn. “Then suddenly the decision is made: The
Survival instinct wins, it follows the dust cloud of the herd. ”The mother continues to try to help her boy on his feet. Suddenly the daughter comes back. “Was the bond with the mother stronger than the survival instinct? What is conscious choice about their decision and what is submission to instinct? "It is astonishing how the story goes on:" The two female elephants take the young one in the middle and support it so that it does not fall. You carry and support it with the help of your trunk or a leg. The chances of success are slim and if they fail they would lose touch with the herd and with it any chance of survival. But sometimes love works miracles and we witness that miracle. The elephant boy manages to find support on his leg, which has always been buckled up to now. All three now, with loud trumpets, head in the direction in which the herd has moved away. «The herd waits for the three, and together the elephants arrive at the watering hole.

"This example from the life of wild elephants provides evidence of the strength of the bond, but also of the freedom of choice of the actors," writes Claude Béata. »Elephants are aware of themselves, they are one of the few animal species that react in front of their reflection. That is one of the reasons why I claim that a decision has been made here. «His conclusion: The cognitive abilities of a living being do not reduce the strength of the bond, but rather add a certain freedom of action.

The impressive thing about it is that this behavior does not inevitably happen: “But when the bond reaches such a strength as with the elephants, then the pain that arises with every loss is also at the limit of what is still bearable. Elephants made for love also know grief. "

'Aunts' or 'godmothers' also help dolphins with the birth of a small dolphin: They support mother and child after the birth and bring the young to the surface of the water so that they can take their first breaths. But despite 'aunts', the little one always recognizes its mother when suckling. It follows its mother while swimming and learns to synchronize its movements with her. Later on, dolphins make solid friends with perfect synchronization. While the bond with the mother is natural, friendship is chosen.

Love and friendship

Emotion researcher Claude Béata is convinced that love is more than reproduction to preserve the species: "From an evolutionary perspective, love is total nonsense." Scientists always want to give an evolutionary basis for behavior in animals. Mother's love should be based on the necessity of survival, otherwise it is about reproduction and protection. Animals are instincts - and this creates the gap between humans and animals. Claude Béata replies that no essential difference between humans and animals can be derived from this: "Because for us humans, the biological necessities of survival, reproduction and protection also apply."

But with humans and animals there is also friendship, i.e. connection without a solid reason, without reproductive or survival advantages: a relationship that has no other purpose than yourself and the joy of being with the other.

In the case of elephants, scientists now assume that their friendly relationships are intrinsically valuable. There are also firm friendships with horses: horses that are friendly to one another even have a slower and more regular heartbeat as an expression of well-being. Together they are less prone to stress. In birds, researchers have demonstrated the existence of friendships that are as complex as those in great apes. Monkeys are considered a pattern for friendship. Dolphins swim together with their friends and make their jumps synchronously in perfect harmony. They show exuberant joy when they see each other after a breakup.

Cats in animal shelters seek and find a friend and companion they get along with and that gives them the strength to deal with the situation in captivity. Claude Béata also reports on a tomcat named Cool who lived in the house of a lady who loved cats and who loved to take care of little kittens that the lady brought home: If such foundlings uttered loud screams in their helplessness, Cool would rush to attentively to take it between your paws and lick it off. He accompanied her on her explorations of the new home and protected her when other cats defended their territory with unfriendly reactions ... He was a real peacemaker in the relationships between the various cats, who obviously knew, accepted and valued his role. "Apparently it was most important drive the joy that the cat felt in contact with others.

Oranutan mother with child

Image: charles taylor Fotolia.com

Social intelligence and communication

How high is the social intelligence of animals? Dr. Immanuel Birmelin reports in "Animal intelligent" about an experiment that he was able to observe together with Rob Shoemaker, the head of the orangutan station in Washington: The orangutan lady India observed through her cage grid, as if under one of two upside down food bowls her favorite fruit, a fig, has been hidden. Then Rob was shown in front of India's cage bars: “He was able to fetch the fig for India, but firstly he had a bucket over his head and could not see anything and secondly he did not know which bowl the fig was under. ... India did not hesitate long and took the bucket from his head. But that wasn't enough, she also knew that she had to push Rob in front of the correct food bowl so that he could get her the food. And that's exactly what she did. An intellectual bravura, which India proved in many other tests. "

The communication between animals is much finer and more diverse than we think. And it goes far beyond sounds: Horses, for example, communicate through body and expressive movements and are able to perceive the finest movements and react to them in fractions of a second. This sophisticated social behavior can not only be observed in the herd, but also enables communication between humans and horses. If a person allows himself to learn the horse's language, that is, to "read" the finest movements of his horse and to communicate in turn using precise body language, perfect understanding and harmony is possible - very different from when people try to control the horse using mechanical means Aids (curb, spurs, whip, ...) to dominate. This is the secret of the "Horse Whisperers" and "Natural Horseman". Horses even observe how a certain person treats another horse and react accordingly when dealing with that person. So you have an excellent power of observation and draw conclusions about your behavior from it.

Immanuel Birmelin reports on experiments in which researchers wanted to find out what role the eyes play in communication between humans and animals. A trainer had food in his pocket. How would the horse react if he had arms and hands on his body or if he covered his eyes or closed his eyes with his hand? The result: if their eyes were closed or simply closed, the horses more often begged for food by neighing and touching the person. Birmelin writes: "Who would have thought that horses could draw the conclusion:" When the eyes are closed, humans cannot see me, so I have to send out a signal that they can perceive. "" - For people who deal with horses, Isn't that surprising: They know that you can't fool horses, that they can assess a person immediately, get rid of every knot and always find the right moment when we humans are not paying attention.


friends who are friends have slower and more regular heartbeats. · Image: Nadine Haase · fotolia.com

Anyone who builds a relationship with animals

communicates intuitively in their language. Since this communication is primarily based on body contact and body language, we move on to a deeper level of communication. · Image: Gerhard Seybert · fotolia.com

Situations that make you feel good,

strengthen the bond. · Image: Eléonore H · fotolia.com

Love between humans and animals

In his book "The Daring of Love", Claude Béata not only deals with the emotional bond between conspecifics, but also with the relationship between humans and animals. As a veterinarian and psychologist, he illuminates the special relationship between our pets in a very sensitive and illuminating manner: »The diversity in which the bond is presented is revealing. After the many thousands of examples that I was able to witness, I can safely say that there is bond, yes, that there is love between dogs and people. … What all such 'two-way relationships' have in common is that the 'partners' are bound to each other, but neither human nor dog is the same. The uniqueness defines the value, regardless of the beauty and sometimes even of the wholesomeness of the behavior. "

Situations that make people feel good strengthen the bond. But a dangerous situation also triggers attachment behavior. "That is also the reason for pathological relationships between tormentor and victim, ... between sadistic master and dog."

Dogs can develop behavioral disorders as a result of separation pain - be it separating too early from their mother or separating from loved ones. Disappointed love leads to suffering, which can be expressed as jealousy. As a veterinarian and researcher, Béata has come across reports of pet jealousy, the cause of jealousy being suffering. He also observes this behavior in the fox terrier who lives in his family: “As soon as we turn to another animal, it has to interfere. He comes and lies right between us and the other creature. "In this context, Béata reports on a video recording by an Italian veterinarian:" The video shows an old dog together with its owner and a young dog. This makes air jumps. Strokes the owner's legs and receives pats and treats in return. The camera now focuses on the tired old dog and shows how he looks at the young dog with deeply sad eyes. You'd think you're under a deception, but then a family member notices the scene, walks up to the old dog and pats him. As if touched by a magic wand, the old dog perks up again. "

According to Claude Béata, knowledge about the emotions of animals should above all serve to better understand animals and to show them respect. For example, if we know that our pets can be jealous, then we should find ways to prevent them from suffering.

Knowing about the emotions of animals

According to Claude Béata, it should primarily serve to better understand animals and to show them respect. · Image: sonya etchiso · fotolia.com

"It is time we understood

that the differences between fellow creatures are fluid. «(Immanuel Birmelin) · Image: Rita Kochmarjova · fotolia.com

Empathy is the mental ability

Not only to register your own emotions, but to put yourself in the shoes of others, to understand and to adjust your own behavior accordingly. · Image: Ronnie Howard - Fotolia.com


Empathy is the mental ability not only to register one's own emotions, but also to empathize with the feelings of others, to understand and to adjust one's own behavior accordingly.

Today science knows about the mirror neurons through which we experience the actions, intentions and feelings of others ourselves and thereby understand and decipher them directly. The mirror mechanism is the basis from which empathy grows.

Claude Béata presents in his book "The Daring of Love" various experiments on empathy in the animal kingdom. It has been proven that rats are able to sense the feelings of other conspecifics and thereby change their behavior: the so-called Milgram experiment was carried out with rats as early as 1959. Rats had learned to get a reward by pushing a lever. Then, by pushing the lever, another rat was electrocuted, which writhed in pain, while the first rat received its reward. “The result was clear: if the rats were able to see the pain in their conspecifics, in many cases they interrupted the activity associated with a reward. That was all the more true when the rats themselves had received electric shocks and knew the pain it caused. "

A similar experiment was carried out with rhesus monkeys: in order to get food, they had to pull on a chain, which at the same time gave another monkey a painful electric shock. "Of the fifteen monkeys, three have not changed their behavior, ten have restricted their food intake to the bare minimum and two have not consumed any food and thereby endangered their health." In two thirds of the animals, the empathy went so far that they refused To get the electric shock, two monkeys out of fifteen were even willing to risk their lives.

It has been scientifically proven that rats and rhesus monkeys have empathy. Much more the question arises: How high is the empathy of people who carry out such experiments?

The behavioral scientist Immanuel Birmelin also has no doubt that animals can empathize with the feelings and ideas of other individuals. He tells of an incident with a group of chimpanzees, which Reto Weber from Basel Zoo reported to him: The chimpanzees were dozing when suddenly a young sparrow that was not yet able to fly landed at the feet of a female chimpanzee. "She grabbed it in a flash, his fate seemed sealed," writes Birmelin. But then something poignant happened: “The chimpanzee carefully cupped the bird in her cupped hands - as carefully as if it were something precious - and looked delighted at the small, paralyzed sparrow. In the meantime the other chimpanzees became curious and hurried over. They stretched out their hands and the little creature was carefully passed around; everyone seemed to be in need of protection and cuteness. 'When the last chimpanzee held the little bird in his hand, he went to the bars and handed it carefully and without haste to Reto Weber, a human. The chimpanzees crossed the artificially created boundaries between humans and animals. "It is time we understood that the differences between our fellow creatures are fluid," says Immanuel Birmelin. "You deserve respect!"

It is always touching to watch

how lovingly, carefully and sensitively animals treat young children - be they children of their own species, of another species or of human beings. · Image: Rita Kochmarjova · fotolia.com

Animals have the ability to empathize

towards people. So there are always moving reports of dogs, dolphins or gorillas protecting or rescuing people. · Image: pitrs · fotolia.com

Animals show empathy towards people

It is always touching to see how lovingly, carefully and sensitively animals treat young children - whether they are children of their own kind, of another species or of human beings. Dogs lovingly lick kittens and indulgently allow the kittens to climb on them.

There are horses that small children love: the little ones are allowed to touch the big horse, pull on its mane, stumble or crawl on it, run around it or between the horse's legs, lead it proudly on the rope. And the horse is very careful with it, would never harm the small child - although it would not put up with everything in adult humans.

In "The Risk of Love", Claude Béata examines the ability of animals to empathize with people: dolphins that protect people from sharks, gorillas in captivity that save children who have fallen into their enclosures, or dogs that risk their own lives, to come to the rescue of their owner in a dangerous situation. In his observations, Béata is concerned with recognizing analogies and correspondences between the emotional patterns of humans and animals so that we can learn to understand animals better, but also learn more about ourselves.

The gorilla lady Binti Jua was voted “Hero of the Year” in the USA in 1996: “Binti Jua looked after a child who fell several meters into her enclosure and was unconscious. Nobody believed in his salvation. Binti Jua carefully took it in his arms, went with him first to a safe place, then to the gate where the zoo staff were waiting. When she handed the child over, she lightly stroked his head - a gesture that means almost everywhere in the world: 'Don't worry, everything will be fine.' I have seen this gesture a thousand times on parents who put their little ones in the Accompanying kindergarten «, writes Claude Béata. "Binti Jua was carrying her seventeen-month-old child with her at the time."

Claude Béata tells of a Labrador who saved the life of the fourteen-month-old boy in the family. The little one had fallen into the swimming pool. The distraught mother found him unconscious on the dog's back. “He dived for the boy, put him on his back, and was now in the middle of the pool. He didn't move, but he just managed to stay afloat, not knowing how to get his precious load dry. "

In Arizona, a dog rescued a fifteen-month-old girl who was lost on a winter walk with her parents. In the course of the 15 hours that the girl was searched, the temperature dropped to double-digit minus degrees! “When the helicopter spotted the child, it was snuggled against the dog's body. When the helpers arrived, the dog only assumed a threatening posture, but when the child woke up and smiled at the people, it jumped stormily around them «.

Claude Béata aptly points out that this story contains many revealing details about empathy: »a sensory, cognitive and functional empathy; maintaining protection, even if it seems inadequate to us (but for a dog, uniformed people, helmeted out of a helicopter, are not the most trustworthy figures ...); deciphering and fine-tuning the signals from the girl, because when the girl showed that she was not afraid, she calmed the dog down. "

As a veterinarian, Claude Béata repeatedly experiences everyday examples of empathy from animals towards people: "When I cry, he comes and licks off my tears." is otherwise always lively. "One woman reported about her dog:" The contact with her snout was sometimes enough for me to get out of my melancholy mood. But if I didn't show any reaction, Candy ran away for a moment and came back with one of her toys. If that was still not enough, she took up the playing position, waved her rod and lay with her chest almost on the floor ...: 'Don't be sad, come play with me!' "

Animals can make decisions

are capable of targeted problem solving and, like us, live in a world of feelings. Picture: Julija Sapic - Fotolia.com

Empathy, solidarity and affection:

Universal concepts

"The emotional bond is not just an option, but a drive, a force that guides the entire life of the individual," says Claude Béata. All living beings necessarily need a bond from birth that gives them a secure foundation. The author therefore sees empathy, solidarity and affection as universal concepts that are valid for humans and animals.

Lack of empathy towards animals?

"We understand our counterpart better or only at all, whether human or animal, when we roughly understand what is going on in his head," writes Dr. Immanuel Birmelin. "But if we humans deny that a large part of animals think, feel and have a consciousness, we do not fully take into account their animal personality." The consequences are poor keeping of domestic animals and the exploitation of animals that we call "farm animals". In the case of zoo and circus animals, keeping animals in a manner that is not appropriate to the animals leads to serious behavioral disorders. "Perhaps disregard for the mental abilities of animals and the lack of empathy are the root of the innumerable cruelties towards our fellow creatures," the behavioral biologist points out. "We all know violence against animals, but we turn a blind eye to it."

We all know the pictures from factory farming, from the slaughterhouses, from the animal testing laboratories - but we don't want to see them. We suppress these images. Why do we not allow our feelings about the cruelty to animals? Because then we would have to change our behavior? Wouldn't it be time to develop our empathy for animals?

"Let's show more sensitivity!"

Claude Béata points out in his book "The Daring of Love" that scientists often ask the animals wrong questions because they are typical questions from humans that animals cannot answer with the best will in the world:

“Sometimes in a dream I listen to a gathering of dolphins. You study people who were probably forced to live in water by a new flood. Perhaps the most intellectually open-minded dolphin among them will begin his introductory lecture with the following words: “Dear colleagues and friends, I assure you that this species is not uninteresting. Of course, they are pitiful creatures who, like us, cannot sleep while swimming. You can't even stand with one foot on a log floating in the water and rest like some of our friends' birds. I don't even want to talk about the speed at which they swim ... Despite these well-known deficits and deficiencies (they do not even have a location with sonar) and despite their poor results in the DIAT (the Dolphin Intelligence Assessment Test; they have to in a first part shoals of fish are detected via radar, and in a second part it is about the characteristic whistling sounds that young dolphins already have at six months) I still think they have an elementary form of intelligence.

I wake up from my sleep: Fortunately that's not true, the earth with its solid ground is still there! We can still destroy them or preserve them by stopping confronting animals with insoluble problems, but instead include them in the considerations of important questions about their and our existence. ... So let's try less abstract explanations and show more sensitivity! «
(Claude Béata: The Risk of Love, pp. 84-85)


Claude Béata: The Risk of Love

Love is existential, not only for us, but also for animals. Claude Béata shows in touching example stories, underpinned by the latest scientific findings: Animals, like us, can suffer, love, be loyal and have the ability to empathize.

Claude Béata is a renowned French veterinarian and psychologist and one of the pioneers in the field of research on emotions in animals. His books are bestsellers in France.

Claude Béata: The Risk of Love
What we can learn from animals
Original title: Au risque d’aimer
Bound with dust jacket 352 pages
Riemann-Verlag, Sept. 2014
ISBN: 978-3-570-50172-6
Price: 19.99 euros
Immanuel Birmelin: Animal Intelligence

Immanuel Birmelin has been researching the memory performance and emotional levels of animals for decades. One thing becomes clear: animals can make decisions, are capable of targeted problem solving and, like us, live in a world of emotions. An exciting journey to wildlife and domestic animals that will astonish us and change our relationship with animals.

Dr. Immanuel Birmelin, born in 1943, studied biology and chemistry and received his doctorate from the University of Bern. He is a behavioral researcher of international standing and was a member of the specialist group for behavioral research of the German Veterinary Medical Society.

Immanuel Birmelin: Animal Intelligence
About counting cats and talking monkeys
Paperback, 272 pages
KOSMOS, 1st edition 2011
ISBN: 978-3440121955
Price: 9.99 euros

Association for animal behavior research
Dr. Immanuel Birmelin
Rotackerstr. 28 79104 Freiburg


Freedom for animals 2/2021

Freedom for animals 1/2021

Special Edition: Facts Against Hunting

VEGGIE FOR KIDS - Plant-based kitchen that is child's play

The recipes for the new cookbook »VEGGIE FOR KIDS. Vegan - child's play & delicious «- have all been tried out by children and young people: They are easy to prepare, taste really delicious and are also healthy! And most importantly: those who cook like this help our friends, the animals! Continue reading

DVD: The soil we live on

When we walk through a forest or a meadow, we are little aware of the incredible wonder of creation that is right under our feet. Because in the ground is hidden - for the most part invisible to our eyes - trillions of life. There are more living things under the surface of a foot than there are people on earth. Without this ingenious micro-creation in the ground with its tiny creatures, there would be no life on earth.
The new documentary film "The soil we live on - the unknown cosmos" from the publishing house Das Brennglas explains why this is so.
Continue reading

How dogs talk to us

How can we communicate with dogs and understand them better? Dogs communicate primarily through body language. If we want to understand dogs better, we need to learn to read body language signals correctly. The illustrated book "Learning to see emotions in dogs", which was created over many years of observation, shows and explains the non-verbal communication of dogs in a unique way. Further

Property in the Main-Kinzig district finally free from hunting!

Lisa and Moto Watanabe's property in Mittelgründau in the Main-Kinzig district (Hesse) is now free from hunting! On December 28, 2017, the couple applied for a ban on hunting on their property for ethical reasons. Animal lovers are convinced that animals, like us humans, have a right to life. further

Bryan Adams: "Stop Eating Fish"

Rock legend Bryan Adams urges his fans to stop eating fish and watch the Netflix documentary "Seaspiracy". "Seaspiracy" illuminates the "war" against the oceans and examines the environmental impact of the fishing industry on marine life. The musician has been publicly advocating animals and vegan nutrition for many years. further

V Like Victory - vegan nutrition in professional sport

Purely plant-based nutrition in professional sport? Is the? Film producer Lars Oppermann visited vegan athletes for his documentary "V like Victory". The result is an informative film that inspires with its different stories. further

New study: vegan nutrition in sport

The number of vegetarians and vegans in sport has been increasing steadily for years: from Formula I world champion Lewis Hamilton, tennis no. 1 Novak Djokovic, Fiona Oakes (four world records in marathon running), ultra marathon runners Scott Jurek, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (one of the most successful high altitude climbers in the world), strongman Patrik Baboumian (several world records, e.g. in logging) to an increasing number of footballers, baketball and Ice hockey professionals. "It is therefore likely that the number of vegan athletes at all fitness levels, in recreational, amateur and professional sports - will increase," says sports scientist Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer from the University of Innsbruck. further

"Sport and animals are my life"

Interview with sports scientist Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer

Freedom for animals:
Youhas been researching the subject of »Vegan & Sport« for many years. You started your study »bikeeXtreme« in 2004 and in the following years you presented the world's first scientific study on the subject of »Vegan & Sport« - long before »vegan« was hip and popular. Question 1: How did you get into a vegan diet? And question 2: How did you get into sport? further

Tortured animal transports across Europe

When TV documentaries show pictures of tortured animals that have been carted through Europe for days and then - because they can no longer walk properly - hung by their legs - loaded onto a cargo ship heading for the Middle East, there is great public protest. But there is no end in sight to the controversial long-distance transports. further

By ship to the Middle East

Calves that are still suckling from their mothers are transported by truck for more than 20 hours from Germany and other countries to northern Spain when they are two to three weeks old. There the calves are fattened for around nine months and then transported by ship to the Middle East or other Arab countries. Conditions on such ships are often catastrophic. The end of the line are often Arab slaughterhouses, where the young cattle are brutally slaughtered without stunning. further

Planned animal welfare label: consumer deception?

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) wants to make Germany a pioneer when it comes to animal welfare in pig farming with a state "animal welfare label". In fact, it is just another seal that is supposed to take away the guilty conscience of the consumer when buying pork products.further

Animal industry: over € 13 billion in subsidies annually

Have you ever wondered how it can be that meat is cheaper than vegetables? Or why pork sausages are much cheaper than soy or pea protein sausages? The answer: State subsidies keep the prices for meat, milk and other animal products low and consumption at a high level. further

UN study: Meat consumption is the greatest destroyer of nature

A recent UN study shows dramatically that the meat industry is nature's greatest enemy. Mankind now has to stop eating immense meat in order to stop the worldwide loss of animal and plant species and ecosystems. further

Zoopharmacognosia: How Animals Heal themselves

More and more scientific observations and field studies confirm that animals heal themselves with plants - from targeted prophylaxis to the acute fight against ailments. Zoopharmacognosy is the name of this branch of science that studies the self-medication of animals. But the question arises: How do animals do it? How do you know which plant can cure it?further

Rescue the lions in Botswana

According to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), African lion populations fell by a dramatic 43 percent from 1993 to 2018. That means: of 200,000 lions 25 years ago, only a little more than 22,000 live in the wild in Africa today. The reason: trophy hunting, habitat loss, decline in prey populations, habitat loss and the killing of lions in retaliation for killing farm animals. The SAVE Wildlife Foundation works in cooperation with the Technical University of Munich to protect lions in Botswana. further

Feather dress & flapping wings: birds in portrait

The two ornithologists Thomas Griesohn-Pflieger and Iris Lichtenberg document the beauty of our bird world in an informative and inspiring way in their book "Federkleid & Flügelschlag". The portraits of 100 native bird species are illustrated with the enchanting works of art by the Swiss nature painters Paul-André and Léo-Paul Robert.
Continue reading

Weightless jugglers in the landscape

Butterflies settle on all continents of the earth except Antarctica and can be found in almost all habitats. Over 160,000 species are currently known. But for many years we have seen a dramatic decline.
Read the article by Prof. Dr. Herbert Zucchi

Study: Ravens are intelligent like great apes

Comparative standardized IQ tests show that although they have no cerebral cortex, the social and physical intelligence of corvids is comparable to that of great apes. further

More and more wild boars and deer through more hunting

Hunters' Latin teaches: wild boars and deer must be hunted on a massive scale. Reality shows: the more wild boars and deer are shot, the more they multiply. While in the 1980s around 800,000 to 900,000 deer and 150,000 to 250,000 wild boars were killed each year, in the last decade it was up to 1,250,000 deer and 600,000 to 880,000 wild boar per year - and the trend is rising. further

Animal protection associations reject the hunting law

A broad alliance of animal and nature conservation organizations rejects the present draft to amend the Federal Hunting Act. From the point of view of the associations, the draft is in many ways hostile to animal welfare and wild animals. This emerges from a joint statement by a total of 28 animal and nature conservation organizations, which was sent to the relevant ministries and specialist committees on January 15th. further

Luxembourg: Fox hunting remains prohibited

Fox hunting has been banned in Luxembourg since 2015. Our neighboring country thus provides practical proof of how unnecessary the massive killing of foxes is - even in the modern cultural landscape: the number of foxes has neither increased nor are there any problems with rabies. The spread of the fox tapeworm is even declining. "There is no reason to lift the ban on fox hunting," explains Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg. further

The ultimate nutritional kick: smoothies

The book "Vegane Smoothies" presents over 65 power drinks and shows how a balanced, plant-based diet with important nutrients is possible. Smoothies make everyday life easier, because whether for breakfast or as a snack: they always go and are quick to prepare! Do something good for yourself and your body - with a variety of vegan smoothie recipes for every taste and every occasion! further

Vegan low budget

In “Vegan Low Budget”, Niko Rittenau and Sebastian Copien present a nutritious, plant-based diet that is feasible every day for every budget. For less than 5 euros, they bring delicious dishes to the table that meet all the criteria for a healthier diet and are guaranteed to fill you up with the generously proportioned portions. And by the way, this diet is also active animal and climate protection - for a better world! further

Vegan diet from a medical point of view

The eating habits of the industrialized nations are strongly influenced by the consumption of animal products. The consumption of meat, dairy products, fish and eggs is jointly responsible for many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, obesity and autoimmune diseases. Dr. med Ernst Walter Henrich shows on the very comprehensive and well-founded basis of scientific studies the positive effects and sometimes astonishing advantages of a vegan diet for humans, animals and the environment. further

Every 2nd chicken: antibiotic-resistant pathogens

More than every second sample of chicken meat from the three largest poultry companies in Europe is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant germs. Chicken meat from the PHW Group (Wiesenhof), Germany's largest poultry company, even 59%. further

Vegan Diet: Reversing Emissions

A recent study comes to the conclusion that a vegan diet could by 2050 reverse the amount of emissions from the atmosphere that were generated by burning fossil fuels in 16 years. The
The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal Nature Sustainability released.

Beef production causes dehydration

There is increasing water shortage in the USA. In recent years, low water levels have endangered hundreds of plant and animal species and caused agricultural losses in the billions. Beef production could be the biggest factor in water scarcity, according to the study “Water scarcity and fish endangerment driven by beef production”.further

Germany: Twice as many vegans than in 2016

The number of vegans in Germany has increased from 1.3 to 2.6 million since 2016. This means that 3.2 percent of German citizens are now vegan. A European comparison shows: The proportion of vegans is particularly high in Germany. In Switzerland it is 2.6 percent, in Austria and Belgium 1.6 percent and in France 0.9 percent.further

Tethering of cows: cruelty to animals!

In Germany, more than a million cows and cattle are tied up in the barn over the long winter months or even all year round. Also in organic farms.

Study: dairy cows are not doing well

A large-scale cross-sectional study examined the health of dairy cows in German dairy farms. Regardless of the region, the same problems occur in many dairy farms: metabolic diseases (risk of ketosis at around 30%, risk of rumen acidosis at around 40-50% in farms), lameness (20-40%) and poor hygiene. In addition, the scientists determined a high mortality rate averaging 10 percent in calves. further

Cow's milk increases breast cancer risk by up to 80%

The results of a large-scale long-term study show that milk can increase the risk of breast cancer by up to 80 percent.
For the long-term study, almost 53,000 healthy women were followed for eight years. Just one cup of milk a day increased the risk of breast cancer by 50%. Consuming two to three cups of cow's milk increased the risk of breast cancer by as much as 80%. further

How animals speak - and we understand them better