Are they as Complex as Our Emotions?
The TEDxBillings community recently had the opportunity to hear from Chrissy Pratt at our latest salon event. These salon events are bite sized events that build up to our main event that will be held on March 5th, 2022.
Chrissy is a Montana native who has dedicated her career to understanding and caring for animals. Her current project, Elephation, seeks to help others work with these large pachyderms using science and compassion to ensure a better quality of life for the animals.
The inspiration for her work comes from primatologist Frans De Wall and his works to understand the emotions and thought processes in animal behavior.
How Animals Deal with Emotions
There’s a lot of debate out there about how animals deal with emotions, morality, and “human” like behaviors. So much so that for a long time anything that had to do with anthropomorphism, that is assigning human-like characteristics to animals, was rather taboo in the scientific community.
But recently, studies have started to come around that there are a lot of animals out there that follow very similar moral and emotional processes that we do as humans. Some of those have to do with fairness, and helping each other to get a reward; even when there’s nothing in it for the helper.
Frans De Waal has studied this extensively. Before offering her own opinion, Chrissy shared one of her favorite TED Talk videos with the crowd.
The bottom line turns out that thought processes of animals are far more complex than we often care to take into account.
Chrissy Pratt and Elephation
Chrissy tells us that the goal of Elephation is to someday see a world where there is no such thing as a captive elephant anymore. Someday, she hopes to see every elephant be a resident of the wild where they belong.
But until that day, they work hard to ensure that elephants that are in captivity are not miserable elephants.
To make sure they are well cared for, Elephation helps to train and consult with those managing these immense mammals. Using positive reinforcement methods, teaching and training elephants can be done humanely, and in a way that strengthens the bond between caregiver and beast; not as one of a owner and slave, but rather as a compassionate and loving relationship between the two.