On September 5, 2003, a well-known animal activist and author named Jeremy Rifkin wrote an article titled “A Change of Heart about Animals” published in the Los Angeles Times. In Rifkin’s article, he explains the emotions and tools that animals possess by using examples of extraordinary animals like Koko and the anatomy of animal brains versus ours. I agree with Rifkin with the idea regarding animals and them being closer in resemblance to humans than most people are aware. We should treat animals with more respect and give them the dignity that they deserve.
People should recognize animals by showing a more equal mindset and by letting them live freely in the world that is not only ours, but theirs as well.
The human brain has natural instincts and skills that are inherent to people. This is the same for other animals. Rifkin simply points out that there is a strong resemblance to the human brain compared to other animals. Some people might say that animals do not have the brain capacity to comprehend emotions like humans do, but this is false.
Rifkin says in the article a “Recent studies in the brain chemistry of rats show that when they play, their brains release large amounts of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with pleasure and excitement in human beings”(Rifkin 12). Anyone who has had a pet does not need to be told that animals feel most and if not all the same emotions that we do. Animals mourn death but also become excited when food is placed in front of them.
No one can deny this, but what Rifkin is saying is that animals not only have like emotions that we do, but also have the ability to understand and learn things. He uses Koko, an extraordinary gorilla who can essentially communicate through sign language as an example. Rifkin explains that Koko ¨was taught sign language and has mastered more than 1,000 signs and understands several thousand English words”(Rifkin 8). This clearly shows that animals have the tools needed to understand and deserve to be treated with more respect.
According to Ivo Jacobs, a researcher in cognitive zoology from Lund University, many animals make very complicated contraptions and use problem solving techniques in their everyday life. Jacobs uses many examples to back up this claim, but what was most interesting to me was the fact that “Termites build extraordinary structures that perfectly fit their needs. Their mounds have chambers that suit specific functions, connecting tunnels that allow large crowds to pass in both directions, and air flow that keeps the nest cool during the day and warm during the night”(Jacobs).
The fact that termites can build structures that allow them to travel and provide air flow shows that these creatures have the mental capacity and intelligence to make these complex structures. Other animals have brain power and they work together to support the ecosystem. Like Rifkin, Jacobs demands for people to realize the intelligence of these animals. Another example to support this claim is animals build up and sustain the environment, whereas humans destroy it. A recent work showed underground termites in Kenya increase grassland productivity and biodiversity over large areas by raising soil fertility in evenly spaced circles(Malmstrom). We may not be as superior as we think we are. Humans are destroying the world as we know it.
We are obliterating our world’s natural resources and harming the ecosystems of multiple animal habitats. According to Alex Kirby, an author from EcoWatch, ‘We urgently need to address this problem before we have irreversibly depleted the resources that power our economies and lift people out of poverty. This deeply complex problem, one of humanity’s biggest tests yet, calls for a rethink of the governance of natural resource extraction'(Kirby). This is a serious problem and raises a lot of questions about the human race. Other animals besides humans thrive off of renewable resources and do not damage the earth. Living in peace with the world is not something that humans are doing, but all other animals seem to do this naturally. This raises the question, are we the ones with not enough brian power to be respected?
Animals deserve to live in harmony in the world without interference. It has been proven the animals have emotions just like ours, can communicate with humans and themselves, and as Rifkin points out in his article, animals have tools and intelligence. Therefore, animals should not be held for testing, treated horribly at slaughterhouses, or be stripped of their right to live in this world that is not only ours, but theirs as well.