Each of the two videos that follow reveal remarkable capabilities of animals–capabilities we have historically denied them. For that reason, they inspire sadness, as well as wonder. The elephant in Thailand who, as many viewers have commented, “Paints better than I do,” is reduced to performing “stupid human tricks” for his or her livelihood. The rats who delight in being tickled(!) nevertheless spend their lives the subject of laboratory experiments. No doubt painting and laughing are better than abuse or mistreatment. Nevertheless, now that we realize that animals are self-aware and capable of deep attachments and emotions, how can we more equitably share the planet with them? How can we extend respect–and even self-determination–to all creatures great and small?
Elephant paints a self-portrait