They walk among us, breathe the same air we breathe, even eat our food sometimes and we even think they talk to us sometimes. Do they also think like us humans? Do the things that motivate us too motivate them? Can they be as fascinated with what fascinates us?
Animals have always fascinated human beings such that it inspired English author Jonathan Swift to write about the Yahoos (the talking horses who rule the world and use men as their slaves) in his epic classic book Gulliver’s Travels. It even went on to inspire the making of two Hollywood films titled ‘Planet of the Apes’ where again, apes rule the planet and humans are the slaves.
Of course, these have only been figments of man’s imagination. But that does not mean that man delved into the brain of animals to comprehend what motivates them and what makes them tick.
Remember Pavlov’s conditioning of the dog? Didn’t you ever dissect a frog or cockroach in the school biology lab?
So, what is the need to understand animal behavior? For one, to understand the difference between human and animal motivation. What are the triggers that motivate animals to behave the way they do? Do animals have dreams? Do they feel sad? Do they feel happy? Do they feel fear? Can they display acts of collective thinking? Can they love? What makes them angry? How close are animals to humans actually? These are the questions that motivate scientists to uncover the mind of animals.
Another reason is that since there is such a vast number of animal species in the animal kingdom, it is also imperative that we know whether all animals, cutting across all species, think and act alike.
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