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Animals have empathy and show feelings, says scholar

Marc Bekoff

March 6, 2008

Animals are emotional and empathic beings which show their feelings, according to a leading American scholar from the University of Colorado, in Australia for a series of public lectures.

Emeritus Professor Marc Bekoff is a keynote speaker for the 'Minding Animals' conference to be held in Newcastle in 2009, and is in Australia for a series of pre-conference lectures.

During the lectures, Professor Bekoff will consider whether animals experience a sense of awe, wonder and mystery, and how recent research shows that animals have emotions.

"Animal emotions aren't all that mysterious. Just look at them, listen to them, and see what happens when they interact with friends and foes - look at their face, tail, body, gait and eyes," he said.

"What we see on the outside tells us a lot about what is happening inside animals' heads and hearts."

Professor Bekoff delivered a public lecture in Adelaide on Tuesday and in Sydney yesterday, and today at 6pm will talk at the University of Newcastle's McMullin Lecture Theatre, Newcastle campus at Callaghan. His lectures focus on animal behaviour, wildlife protection and environmentalism, and are entitled Animal Emotions and Beastly Passions: why "good welfare" isn't "good enough".

The 'Minding Animals' conference is being hosted in Newcastle between 13 and 19 July, 2009, by the University of Newcastle and the Animals and Society (Australia) Study Group. The conference will involve scientists, animal scholars and animal activists to discuss matters relating to animal advocacy, environmentalism and the relationship between humans and animals.

Marc Bekoff is a former Professor of Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He is also an International Associate at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and is involved in its NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies.

Professor Bekoff has won many awards for his scientific research including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a prolific writer with more than 200 articles as well three encyclopedias to his credit. The author or editor of numerous books, including the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love (with Jane Goodall), the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, and the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships, other books include The Smile of a Dolphin, Minding Animals, Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Reflections on Redecorating Nature, The Emotional Lives of Animals, Listening to Cougar, and Animals Matter. In 2005 Professor Bekoff was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners.



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