Do animals have feelings? Photos tell all

Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to write about animals having emotions. He is considered the foremost revolutionary scientist and is revered by fellow scientists (like me). He believed animals felt emotions and that our human emotions evolved from them. Darwin wrote a book about this in 1872 called, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Long before the brilliant Darwin, the Book of Job (considered the oldest book in the Bible) expounded on animal’s beauty and intelligence, their ways, and what we humans can learn from them. I believe these photos reveal different emotions in animals… photos don’t lie.

31fad480661b17c044068716b119c630A wide-eyed baby Orangutan takes in the new world around him from the safety of mom’s embrace (Chin Boon Leng, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards).

ba2eeccc-a68c-4666-9d56-d77e89130953_postDainan Zhou, China, Entry, Open Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.

2968c2a2-0dba-4b54-ad78-17fb1b546ede_postThe knight and his steed, a tropical capture in Costa Rica. Nicolas Reusens, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.

1d3189c3-4fb2-4be1-aa22-0669a8a4be01_postYes, these two truly are BFF’s. See a PBS video about their friendship here.

a6ad78dd-4551-4061-b572-7602e315fc45_post9b510c9a-c493-4284-9e74-38d95c83f015_postThis photo of two lowland gorillas was taken at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. This is part of a series of photos called Bronx Zoo Diaries.

eeebb70b-04d9-4bd6-bb1a-41bba79b1572_postNational Geographic photo of a mother humpback whale and baby dive in Pacific waters off Maui. There is a documented account of a humpback sweeping a seal on its back, away from attacking killer whales.

419aa447-62dc-4d0f-a3f2-de9eb2f11df6_postKeeper Julius Latoya shares a tender moment with Kinna, a young orphaned African Elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. GERRY ELLIS, MINDEN PICTURES.

ed4be63d-87d5-4fda-912f-282215ef28f1_postZeybeks by Hasan Baglar: Zeybek is a Turkish traditional folk dance … “It’s a normal behavior of praying mantis, they are doing defense and both of them doing the same dance…”



Mohammed Yousef, Kuwait, Shortlist, Professional Environment, 2016 Sony World Photography Awards). Her name is Malaika.

Dogs can read human emotions . So, it appears, can horses. Whales have regional accents (patterns of communication between whales vary depending on what region they inhabit– just like us– with accents).  Ravens show how they likely guess at the thoughts of other ravens. All of these findings have been published within the past several months.

New studies like these, along with many recent books by respected biologists and science writers, are seriously considering the inner lives of animals. Now some prominent scientists are arguing that decades of “knee-jerk avoidance of all things anthropomorphic” detrimentally served to hold this field back. “It ruined the field,” says biologist and author Carl Safina. “Not just held it back — it’s ruined the field. It prevented people from even asking those questions for about 40 years.”

But… Charles Darwin knew about “animal feelings” all along and wrote about it in 1872! Job wrote about it in the 6th century BCE. What do you think creatives, do animals have feelings?

Thank you for reading my post. You can read more about the brilliantly creative Charles Darwin in my new book. He is one of many diverse exemplars I’ve highlighted illustrating a certain pattern of creativity. My core message is that everyone is creative, all people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

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8 thoughts on “Do animals have feelings? Photos tell all

  1. Ipek

    Fabulous post! Yes, I so believe in the high intelligence of the more-than-human world. Love this…thank you for sharing!

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for writing Ipek. Yes agreed, in certain ways animals have higher intelligence than us. Like how dogs read our body language. Wish I was that good at it!

  2. Heike Strobel

    I believe that animals are the only creatures that can love purely and unconditional,
    the older I get, the more I love animals over people….
    Thank you Betsy for this wonderful blog today

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Heike,
      Yes, I always remember what dog is spelled backwards! So true are your words about that unconditional love, like the bumper sticker says, “I work hard to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am.” Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. carol christianson

    Thank you, Betsy. Animals have much to teach us. I learn something positive from my hens, chihuahua and cat every day. It usually has something to do with compassion, patience and/or love.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Carol,
      interesting combination! I agree with you, and I would add living fully–alertness–in the present. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Susan A. Schneider

    Yes, there is Frieda, the dog who visited from house to house on Gold Mine until she came to live with Sammi the very day that Hildegard, Sammi’s dog, was run over on Gold Mine (the driver never even stopped). They renamed Frieda “Spirit Dog.” She has never left their side since that day and she would never stay in once place before that.

    Then, also on their Gold Mind property, there is Abigail, a beautiful and large dog who came one day and became best friends with Half Moon, the resident horse, who was very lonely and unhappy until Abigail came out of the blue. No one knows to whom she belonged. They sleep together, run together, eat together. Abigail likes humans, but will not let you get close to her.

    When I remember all the cats, dogs and other pets that I have had, I cry. I did not appreciate them enough. They gave me a lot of comfort, emotional comfort. Animal stillness. Yes, the Bible does say to learn from them.

    1. admin Post author

      Oh Sue, you always make me smile! I love these two stories, Thank you so much for sharing them. I agree with you, I wish I had appreciated (spent more time with) my deceased Sophie dog and the ones before her more… I’m making sure I’m doing that now with my current 2 dogs and cat. The joy they bring is immeasurable!
      Love ‘ya,


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