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.
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
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