When Elephants Weep [Book Review]

Animal Culture is guilty of committing anthropomorphism, ascribing human emotions to animals, and you know what? We don’t care! Yes, we know that animals are a whole other species from humans. We know they lead a more savage, wild life. And we also know that they are unable to build societies, and rule nations, making them less intelligent beings than we are. However, we can not deny their emotions.

While they may feel and express them differently than we humans do, animals do have them. Joy, sadness, excitement, fear, animals – from spiders to elephants – exhibit similar emotions as humans.

In today’s “Book Review Thursday”, we will explore these animal emotions, and the evidence behind them. We will witness birds love, elephants cry, and wild animal parents protecting their young, even if that means risking their own lives.

Happy Reading All!

Title:  When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Elephants

Author: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Synopsis: “From dancing squirrels to bashful gorillas to spiteful killer whales, Masson and coauthor Susan McCarthy bring forth fascinating anecdotes and illuminating insights that offer powerful proof of the existence of animal emotion. Chapters on love, joy, anger, fear, shame, compassion, and loneliness are framed by a provocative re-evaluation of how we treat animals, from hunting and eating them to scientific experimentation. Forming a complete and compelling picture of the inner lives of animals,When Elephants Weep assures that we will never look at animals in the same way again.” 

ISBN: 0385314280 

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals


Every pet parent will admit to committing anthropomorphism – ascribing human emotions to animals – on a daily basis.  We can see that our dog feels happy, that our cat feels playful, or that our turtle feels content; most people do not deny that non-human animals share some basic human emotions.  However, in the scientific community, committing anthropomorphism is essentially looked upon as a sin.

In When Elephants Weep, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson challenges people – scientists, researchers, and non-scientists alike – to come to terms with the fact that animals do seem to have emotions.  Focusing on the basic human emotions people are most able to relate to, such as joy, love, anger, fear, shame, etc., this book provides compelling examples of non-human animals portraying and experiencing emotions much like people do.  Some of these anecdotes that Masson provides as he argues that animals do have emotions and feelings include: the love shown in animals who mate for life, the fear evident in the animals’ eyes during dangerous encounters, and the sorrow they feel when one of their kind passes away.

Included with the examples are scholarly explanations from biologists, ethologists, and animal behaviorists of the emotions animals have been seen portraying.  Masson’s theory that animals do experience emotions is backed up by some of the leading people whom have dedicated their lives to studying animals.  While he gives detailed examples, and convinces the reader of his point, he is not biased in any way.  He also provides anecdotes and opinions from acclaimed scientists and researchers whom do not believe animals can feel emotions, and through this, he allows the reader to keep an open mind.

When Elephants Weep is one of those books that you continue to think about long after you have read it. However, this is not just a book for those with passions for animals; this is also a book for those simply curious about emotions and how those emotions affect every living thing, and also for those wishing to dive into a world known little by humans.

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: When Elephants Weep

Have you read this book? What was your take on it? Join the discussion below!

*Note: The synopsis was taken from Goodreads.com. The review was written by © Kalie Lyn 2011, originally published on her personal blog, Palm Trees & Bare Feet.*

3 responses to “When Elephants Weep [Book Review]

  1. This sounds really interesting.


  2. Adding to my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s