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“Mama’s Last Hug” Makes Case That Humans Are Not Alone in Experiencing Emotions

Barbara J. King: Rats’ faces express joy when the animals are tickled. Fairness matters to monkeys; when food offered to their social partners is of higher quality than what they themselves receive, they become highly agitated. Pigs experience hope, which we know because if raised in decent conditions they anticipate that pleasurable things will happen to them. As primate behavior researcher Frans de Waal writes in his new book Mama’s Last Hug, publishing in early March, “emotions are everywhere in the animal kingdom, from fish to birds to insects and even in brainy mollusks such as the octopus.” Through colorful stories and riveting prose, de Waal firmly puts to rest the stubborn notion that humans alone in the animal kingdom experience a broad array of emotions.

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