When Elephants Weep, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy


,,Whoever listens to a bird song and says, “I do not believe there is any joy in it,” has not proved anything about birds. But he has revealed a good deal about himself”.

The 21st century is the century of the development that brought an extensive knowledge about other planets and basis of the notion of extraterrestrial life; that there are places outside the Earth where there is, or was life. We wander further afield, to explore nature and its inhabitants. The peculiarity is that how little attention we pay on those who live beside us. In the park, or in the forest or even in our flat. A languid, stretched cat, a vigilant squirrel, an interested raven. We look at them and they look at us.

Every man who has experienced a deeper connection with an animal says that our brother actually can feel. The dog’s owners claim that dog can show compassion and sense of guilt. The friends of chinchillas believe that those rodents can get angry. The parrots’ companions sometimes observe the outbursts of jealousy. Despite all those examples, science claims that animals are not capable of expressing feelings. And those who believe so are accused of anthropomorphism.

,,One should demand no more proof that an animal feels an emotion than would be demanded of a human”.

Susan McCarthy and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson undertook a challenging task. They decided to oppose to some of the unalterable ideas of scientific circles by gathering plentiful evidence to expose scholars’ ignorance. When Elephants Weep is not a scientific research, but a plea to a human being. A plea to look carefully at those who may be weaker and less intelligent, but surely not less sensitive.

The issues raised in this book seem to be the cure for human indifference. Here, we have a story of maternal love and the necessity to look after one another. It is a story about the monkey, fascinated by art and the gratitude of caracal. Moreover, a mongoose astounds us when it desires to dance with squirrels and a bear that enjoys the sunsets. A pure joy of little rhino and the music taste of birds.

It is the 21st century and still we don’t know much about those who live beside us. The scholars and priests argue that animals do not have souls and scientific research deal with more serious matters. But there is a hope that the time will come and people will open their eyes and discover how marvelous the creatures with whom we share out planet are.

,,One afternoon a student observing chimpanzees at the Gombe Reserve took a break and climbed to the top of a ridge to watch the sunset over Lake Tanganyika. As the student, Geza Teleki, watched, he noticed first one and then the second chimpanzee climbing up toward him. The two adult males were not together and saw each other only when they reached the top of the ridge. They did not see Teleki. The apes greeted each other with pants, clasping hands, and sat down together. In silence Teleki and the chimpanzees watched the sun set and twilight fall”.

Author: Katarzyna Anita Piotrowska
Translation: Dorota Osińska