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article imageOp-Ed: Love and friendship in the animal kingdom

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 13, 2012 in Science
There are many accounts of close connections established among con-specific or inter-specific animals indicating that love and friendship among non-humans are rather frequent emotions and go beyond anthropomorphic interpretations.
We all have some clarity about the meaning of friendship. Friendship is usually defined as a mutual feeling between two individuals who do not belong to the same family. Everyone at some point in our lives has established bonds with others involving affection, trust, honesty, acceptance, support, and even complicity. That’s friendship! It is a fairly common interaction between humans.
Many animals, especially those who are stray, lonely or in captivity, seek a human or another animal of
Chimpanzee Lucy Temerlin hugs her pet cat.
Chimpanzee Lucy Temerlin hugs her pet cat.
the same kind, or of a different species, to adopt as a companion, a friend or a pet, and establish with them bonds involving loyalty and extraordinary affection. Visit this link and see some surprising examples.
One such case is Lucy Temerlin, the chimpanzee who was raised as a human by Maurice and Jane Temerlin in their home at Norman, Oklahoma. Lucy was definitely not a pet, she was raised as a daughter and besides being taught sign language and how to dress herself, she sat with the Temerlins at the dinner table and learnt how to use flatware. Lucy was also given the opportunity to a have a pet. She was introduced to a kitten. Following some initial rough encounters, both chimpanzee and cat adopted each other and established a long lasting bond of trust and affection.
A similar story is that of Koko, a female gorilla who adopted “All Ball”, a Manx kitten (a tailless cat breed) as her pet. Koko was a remarkable primate; reportedly she could understand more than 1,000 signs of American Sign Language and approximately 2,000 words of spoken English. When Koko’s kitten was accidentally killed by a car, she expressed her grief with a sequence of signs meaning "Bad, sad, bad, frown, cry, frown, sad". To alleviate her affliction, Koko was offered two new kittens to be her companions whom she also adopted and adored tenderly.
On the subject of friendship and affection among animals, I came across this photograph of two Rockhopper penguins that, in crossing their path in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, seem to greet each other with a bow and a "hand-shake". Are they making friends?
Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) show a moment of friendship in the Falkland/Malvinas Islan...
Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) show a moment of friendship in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.
Ira Block
Perhaps, we are going a bit too far… What do you think? Can animals have and express human-like emotions?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Love, Animal friendships, Animals, Animal behaviour, Ethology