Do animals cry?


Try these on for size:
Do some non-human animals see red? Or purple?
Do some non-human animals make and use tools?
Are some non-human animals able to smell flowers? Rotting food?
Are some non-human animals self-aware?

Well, the only way, AFAICT, for someone to categorically say no to any/all of this, is by positing some sort of deus ex machina reason (thetans, gods, aliens,…) that humans are able to do these in the first place.

The reason that we’re able to do this things is because we evolved the ability to do them. I’d like to see someone try explain how we could evolve this, but somehow it’s impossible for other species to do so.


The appropriately-named book When Elephants Weep is a really well done look at animal emotion. The TL/DR version: anyone who spends more than five minutes with animals can tell you that they absolutely have emotions, and to think that humans are the only animals that have emotional responses is fairly ridiculous. That said, it’s also dangerous to anthropomorphize and assume that when an elephant’s eyes are streaming that it feels the same emotions that we feel when our eyes are streaming. Animal emotional responses are no less valid than human emotions, but they aren’t the same as ours, and that’s fascinating.


I hope none of my tax dollars are going to support this nonsense.

I think any research that proceeds from a base assumption that non-humans have inferior emotional responses to those of humans unless proven otherwise, is both unethical and fundamentally bad science. And it seems to me that such research would be very likely to devolve into some Tuskegee Syphilis Study level of atrocity; Temple Grandin’s work shows that human psychology can be profoundly influenced by the cruelties we inflict on non-human species in the workplace.



Completely agree. Some of the confusion about this comes from perhaps a denial that even humans are on a continuum of all of these properties of consciousness (self-awareness, sentience, there isn’t even a single word for it). We happen to be on the talk about it endlessly, above average digits for manipulation, and own the plant spectrum of it, but still on the continuum.

If crying in animals is only a physiological stress response and there is no thoughts or emotions or self-awareness in there, then the same argument could be made for humans. But wait, you say, I can complain about it and tell you I am sad. Sorry, complaining and telling me you are sad is just part of your physiological stress response. So is your sad post to tumblr bemoaning everything. So is this response to these comments.


And doves… don’t forget doves… they cry too. At least they did in the 80s.

I’ll show myself out.


My female American Bulldog cries. I see her eyes tear up.
Sometimes I can’t figure out why she’s upset.

Baby steps… It hasn’t been very long since vets were taught to worry about pain in animals.

Researchers remained unsure into the 1980s as to whether animals experience pain, and veterinarians trained in the U.S. before 1989 were simply taught to ignore animal pain.
That just seems so absolutely dunderheaded that I have never been quite able to understand that particular vein of science.

It’s strange to see this alongside the Moral Molecule post. In the first, it’s assumed that our emotional states are produced by our neurobiology: oxycontin makes us feel safe. But that’s not even entertained in this article; if the question is whether physiological response derives in animals from the same emotional cues as in humans, the assumption is still that emotions produce the tears. Modern psychology, pretty much ever since psychological theories of emotion began, suggests that if anything, the arrow of causation goes the other way: we cry, and then we recognize our emotion as sadness.

1 Like

don’t forget that slave owners told themselves and anyone who complained about their treatment of slaves that black slaves didn’t feel pain like white folks did so they had to use severe punishments. there’s no idea too dunderheaded to have adherents.


The question is:

Do the delicious delicious animals that I ate cry? And if they do, do tears improve the taste?

That is the real question.


Why The Tears of Animals Keeps Meat So ■■■■■

A food scientist explains how a soak in their own tears makes lean meat, like turkey, juicier and more flavorful

Edit: forgot a quote…


I know. And if you ask her, she just says nothing.


Well, you should know…

…no matter if the tears are instinctual or conscious…

No, dammit. Tears are an unconscious response in humans as much as in other species. If we could make a conscious decision to cry without thinking of something sad to trigger the instinctual physiological response, would Hollywood need fake tears?

I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in being pissed off by the persistence of the self-serving notion that emotions are uniquely human (at least until proven otherwise). Historically we’ve tried to defend our lofty turf by denying that other species have emotional lives while at the same time disdaining our own emotions as primitive and animalistic. Which is it?

Treating non-human emotions, intelligence, etc. as unsubstantiated in the face of overwhelming evolutionary, neurological, physiological, and observational evidence is like insisting that the jury’s out on climate change. It’s past time to end this disingenuous pandering to human exceptionalism.


The real question : Do the animals that make some of these posts cry tears of bitter loneliness when their aspirations of internet edginess completely fail?

1 Like

Elephants don’t have tear ducts. They are always crying, it is how they lubricate their eyes.

I just took a one week vacation. However much my dog cried when Daddy didn’t come home and I got word that the dogs obviously were missing me, she cried when I got back.

Brother and sister were very excited when Daddy come home. They got noticeably closer to each other. They have been kissing each other ever since. My guess is that when they didn’t have Daddy to fight over they went into “We only have each other to depend on” mode.

We do talk to the dogs like we expect an answer, “Do you want your dinner? HUH?”

Science has known for CENTURIES that mammals,and reptiles, and birds, and the “higher orders” of animals do, indeed, have emotions on top of suffering pain and all the rest.

I could see arguing against emotions (or at least, arguing for lesser or simpler emotions) in things like the many phylums of “worm-like” animals, and the athropods, and even the “lower orders” of chordates like fish and amphibians and sea squirts and whatnot - but even there, such animals clearly display at least some form of feeling like “fear” and “anger” and “pleasure”.

Straying into other kingdoms of life, I’m pretty certain most plants don’t exhibit emotions on any level we’ve yet been able to recognize (aura readers and “speak to your plant” new age gurus aside). But most animals certainly are emotional creatures.