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Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry

 

Editorial Reviews
 Amazon.com
Are animals closer to humans on an emotional level than generally has been believed? The many scientists, researchers, wildlife photographers, and other animal experts interviewed in this Discovery Channel video answer with a resounding yes. They make their case in this 93-minute documentary, narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver, with stories of despondent dogs, grieving chimps, and lab rats who laugh when tickled. The first half focuses on happy bonds between mother and child, siblings, and animals and humans. The second half delves into the darker subjects of sadness and grief, offering astounding assertions such as elephants secrete a tearlike substance when upset and search dogs finding only corpses in the Oklahoma City bombing case needed treatment for depression. While the focus is on mammals, mollusks get some air time in the form of octopuses that appear to change color according to their situation. Backing up observations with brain imaging and genetic testing, the scientists--and this film--make a compelling view for any animal lover.
      --Kimberly Heinrichs

This is a fascinating, and often quite moving documentary showing the emotional kinship between man and his fellow mammals. The film footage is remarkable, starting with the basic emotions that pertain to survival, "fear, aggression, and the urge to procreate", and then moves on to the more subtle feelings of joy, compassion, grief, loyalty, and even depression.
The caring of one another in animal societies is extraordinary, and shows the bonds of friendship between species of primates, meerkats, wolves, and many more.

The section on maternal love is wonderful, with one exceptional segment by wildlife photographer Martyn Colbeck who follows a herd of elephants, and captures the tremendous patience and devotion exhibited towards a recently born calf as he struggles to walk. There are many instances of incredible sacrifice, including the story of a dog who saves a young boy.
It shows how rescue dogs can show signs of depression, and rats who laugh when they are tickled. I love the chimp who is looking at Gourmet Magazine, and points to pictures of pastries and signs "sweet".

As Dr. Roger Fouts of the Chimpanzee Human Communication Institute says, the difference between us and other animals is "one of degree, and not of kind".

 

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