Prof. Donald Broom – The Kindness of Animals

First of all, there are lots and lots of
examples of parental care in animals. So, mothers looking after their offspring, and mothers being very careful about what problems they might expose the offspring to, and encouraging the offspring to learn new things. The Kindness of Animals So that’s been known for a very long time,
but it’s actually a very important thing, and I think it’s an important thing that
humans can learn from other species. We do these things, but also we can learn from what
other animals are doing, in that they are behaving towards their offspring in a way which is appropriate for the ability of the offspring, and in a way which will maximize
the survival chances of the offspring. So that’s the most obvious thing, but also with other individuals in social groups, they are caring towards them. The most obvious thing is avoiding harming others. If you are a cow and you have sharp pointed horns, and you live in a group with 20 others, then how often do you stick the horn into
another individual accidentally? And the answer is: never. They don’t do it,
they avoid it completely. There might be competition situations,
but for almost all the time, they know what they can do,
they know what’s dangerous, and they are making sure that they don’t harm others. If you watch a video of an elephant
moving through its environment, very often there are smaller animals,
young elephants or birds, perhaps cattle egrets which
walk around amongst the elephants, or other animals which the elephant is going close to, and the elephant is very careful
where it puts its foot. It is not intending to squash anything, it is
trying very hard not harm other individuals. And we do that as well. Today, I have ridden my bicycle here, and I didn’t hit anybody,
I didn’t knock anybody over, I didn’t cause any accidents,
I’m just trying not to harm others as I go along. It certainly comes during the
development of individuals. You have to learn how to do that,
you have to learn how to avoid harming others, and you start doing at a very early stage. But there is a greater risk in the very young than in the older individuals. It’s one of the things that we social animals learn,
how to avoid harming others. The young animal wouldn’t survive
if there wasn’t any parental care, and if you live in a group and you don’t look out for others, then they won’t look out for you. So there’s also collaboration in all social animals, in pointing out danger to others in your group.

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