WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP
Animals have emotions, of that I am absolutely convinced. Those of us that have lived alongside pets will know that they share our happiness and also our sadness. My own bulldog Grumbles used to recognize whenever I was feeling low and often would come and place her head on my knee and look up as if to say ‘don’t be sad, I am your friend’. It was a kind of telepathic link that we shared and I still miss that old dog.
Scientists term the attributing of human emotions to animals anthropomorphism which is a form of criticism, as if to believe that our pets have feelings like we do is mistaken or wrong. One book that challenges this is ‘When Elephants Weep’ by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy. I was given this book by Barry Cunningham the managing editor of Bloomsbury Children’s Book and he suggested I read it as part of my research into the paranormal powers of animals when he commissioned me to write ‘Psychic Pets’. I was deeply moved by many of the examples given by the authors and found the book truly inspirational. Here is a sample:
‘A game warden in Tanzania was doing ‘elephant control work’ when he saw three female elephants and a half-grown male in tall grass. Since his job was to keep the elephant population down, he shot the three females-and slightly wounded the the half grown animal. To his dismay, he suddenly saw two elephant calves, who had been with the females but hidden in the long grass. He moved towards them, shouting and waving his hat, hoping to drive them back to the larger herd, where other elephants would adopt them. The wounded elephant was dazed and helpless and did not know which way to turn. Instead of fleeing, the orphaned calves pressed themselves against him and supported the wounded elephant away from further danger.’
The elephant calves, as described above, were acting in a manner that clearly indicated they were consciously helping their injured friend. Such action is contrary to what many scientists would have us believe about animals i.e. that they act instinctively. Surely the natural instincts of those two elephant calves would be to run away from the clear and present danger. But they did not do so, they acted to aid and protect their fellow creature, rather like a soldier may do on a battlefield. Such actions indicate that the elephants had feelings for without them they would surely have turned and run.
Freedom is one of the great joys of life that we will all have experienced at some time. Thinking back in my own life I recall the sheer exhilaration I used to feel waking on the first morning of the summer holidays knowing that there was no school and I could go playing in the fields with my friends. Animals also feel joy experiencing freedom as illustrated by this anecdote:
‘In spring, when the chimpanzees at Arnhem Zoo are allowed out of their winter quarters for the first time, there is a scene of exultation as they scream and hoot, clasp and kiss one another, jump up and down pounding on each others backs. They are not free, but the additional space, the relatively greater freedom, thrills them. It looks as if it gives them joy’.
Anyone who has owned a dog and taken it for a run in a park will doubtless have witnessed something quite similar as the dog charges here, there and everywhere. That sense of freedom, clearly demonstrated by the dog’s delight, is an emotion and is as real as our own feelings of joy at being free.
The great naturalist Charles Darwin in his book ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’ stated that emotional weeping was a ‘special expression of man’. He did however note one exception reported to him by Sir E. Tennant that some Indian elephants, newly captured in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when tied up showed ‘no other indication of suffering than the tears which suffused their eyes and flowed incessantly. One captured elephant sank to the ground uttering chocking cries, with tears trickling down his cheeks’. The emotion being expressed by the captured elephants was perhaps of frustration and sadness at the loss of liberty and segregation from their family. As human beings we too would likely shed tears in such a situation.
If we accept that animals have emotions and express them with their own particular physical attributes we should also accept that they are sentient creatures capable of making value judgements. That is animals posses the ability to act altruistically i.e. in a way that helps others but may endanger themselves, as in the example above with the elephant calves.
During the years that I have been working as a psychic author I have met many people who tell me that they have seen the spirits of their pets who are passed into the next world. We buried our pet bulldog Grumbles in a quiet corner of the garden where, in life, she used to rest in the shade and snore loudly. Last summer I was myself snoozing on the hammock that stands by that corner and as I began to wake from my nap I heard quite distinctly the familiar sound of Grumbles snoring away. Half asleep I looked up and saw, for one brief moment, that happy old friend flopped out paws before her head fast asleep. Then I remembered that she had gone and as I looked she disappeared into the shadows of the late summer afternoon.
Animals have souls, our pets, like us, do not die. The next world is as real to animals as it is to us and to think otherwise is just pure arrogance. We ourselves are animals, human animals and as such will take our natural place in the kingdom beyond this material plane that we call Earth. Elephants may indeed weep, as may we all, but in the next dimension our God will dry those tears as we become one with the eternal love that awaits all living creatures.