Are Animals Empathetic? [3:06]


Tara for “D News” shares a story of Koko the gorilla, part of California’s Gorilla foundation who has a vocabulary of 1000 signed words.  It was reported that Koko mourned the death of Robin Williams.  This leads into the more general discussion of emotions and empathy in animals.  New research shows that Bonobos experience “emotional contagion,” which means the transferring of emotions to another using facial expressions.  While the topic would interest many students, the vocabulary and speed of the video makes it most appropriate to grades 5 and up.

Discussion Questions

  • Can animals experience empathy?
  • What language skills does Koko the gorilla posses?
  • What is “emotional contagion” shared by humans and bonobos?

Keywords: Animal studies, Empathy, Language, emotions, psychology,


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