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Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel
By CARL SAFINA

“Whenever elephants met men, elephants fared badly. Syria’s final elephants were exterminated by twenty-five hundred years ago. Elephants were gone from much of China literally before the year 1 and much of Africa by the year 1000. Meanwhile, in India and southern Asia, elephants became the mounts of kings; tanks against forts, prisoners’ executioners, and pincushions of arrows, driven mad in battle; elephants became logging trucks and bulldozers, and, as with other slaves, their forced labor requires beatings and abuse. Since Roman times, humans have reduced Africa’s elephant population by perhaps 99 percent. African elephants are gone from 90 percent of the lands they roamed as recently as 1800, when, despite earlier losses, an estimated twenty-six million elephants still trod the continent. Now they number perhaps four hundred thousand. (The diminishment of Asian elephants over historic times is far worse.) The planet’s menagerie has become like shards of broken glass; we’re grinding the shards smaller and smaller.”

“Do other animals have human emotions? Yes, they do. Do humans have animal emotions? Yes; they’re largely the same. Fear, aggression, well-being, anxiety, and pleasure are the emotions of shared brain structures and shared chemistries, originated in shared ancestry.”

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you want to do; you know what’s best for the pack. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect. Point is, alpha males are surprisingly nonaggressive, because they don’t need to be.”