Primate behavior researcher Frans de Waal’s book ‘Mama’s Last Hug’ makes the case that animals have emotions. The Mama in the book’s title is a chimpanzee living in a zoo in the Netherlands who de Waal describes as an influential leader of her group. The “last hug” refers to the aging Mama’s touching last encounter with a biology professor. This sort of emotion isn’t limited to chimps; de Waal also observes emotions in fish, birds, insects and mollusks. He argues that emotions didn’t begin with humans, but that we inherited them from other species. Ultimately, de Waal’s ideas have profound implications for the subject of ethics and animals.
- Some animals that have been seen to show emotions are rats who express joy when they are tickled and monkeys who are agitated by unfairness.
- The primate behavior researcher, Frans de Waal, writes in his new book, Mama’s Last Hug, that animals express emotions in nearly all species.
- By using colorful stories and a prose that is riveting, de Waal has finally made to rest the assumption that only humans express emotions in the animal kingdom.
“De Waal has never seen an ape ashamed of her mother or an elephant worried about his weight — our emotions, in other words, may be expressed in uniquely human contexts. Yet the claim that any human emotion is “fundamentally new” is false; our emotions originated in other species and then elaborated from there.”