‘Animals have morals’


Al-Riyadh newspaper

It is funny how some political and social activists use the Arabic phrase “amal hayawaniya” (meaning “animal-like act”) to describe barbaric and senseless violence against helpless and innocent people. Some members of the public call people who engage in reckless behavior “animals”.

Although we love animals, take care of them at home, ensure they are clean all the time and even take them to the vet, we still associate them with recklessness and unjust behavior. Why is this the case? There have been studies and research on this subject, including an important book called “Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals” by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce from the University of Colorado.

The book sheds light on animal behavior, how animals treat one another and how the strong help the weak. These conclusions show beyond doubt that animals treat one another with justice with a few exceptions that do not alter the above truth.

In her comments on the book, Jane Goodall, a famous animal rights activist and environmentalist, said the authors’ research proves that animals have morals. She also said the book explains why some people prefer to spend more time with animals than with human beings because animals are more faithful and loyal. She emphasized that animals get better treatment in the West, citing the example of former US President Lyndon Johnson who was close to losing his presidential position because he was playing violently with his dog in front of the media.

Both authors mention some situations in which animals lead moral lives and demonstrate sympathy for one another. One example is that of a group of elephants that rescued a herd of antelopes inside a pen. One of the elephants opened the door of the pen using its trunk and let the antelopes escape. Another example is that of a rat in a cage that refused to push a lever to access food when it saw that another rat had suffered an electric shock by pressing the lever. A third example is that of a female fruit-eating bat that helped an unrelated female bat give birth and showed her how to hang in the proper way. The fourth example is that of a cat that helped a deaf and blind dog avoid obstacles and find food.