CU Prof Provides Lesson in Animal Morality

May 2009

Do animals have morals? University of Colorado professor of ecology Marc Bekoff thinks so. And his new book, Wild Justice, in which he argues that morality is "hard wired" into the brains of all mammals, explaining their ability to get along with each other and hence their evolutionary survival, is making waves across the Atlantic. That's because until recently, we humans, gifted with our ability to shape the world around us, thought we were the only species to experience complex emotions and moral decision-making, as Britain's Telegraph reports, noting Bekoff's conclusions have implications for animal-welfare groups who argue that animals deserve to be treated more humanely. Bekoff's theory has its naysayers, but Bekoff raises compelling points. Why, for example, do coyotes ostracize cubs that bite too hard? Why do elephants nurse their ill? Why do healthy chimps go easy with the monkey dominance on their handicapped brethren? Yet Boulder's Daily Camera writes, "not everyone will find the argument persuasive."