Inky the Octopus and the upsides of Anthropomorphism
Animals have been regarded as intelligent and with the capacity to display different emotions, learn new things and respond to stimuli. The story of Inky, the octopus who escaped from his tank in the New England National Aquarium, shows the animal’s ability to study its environment and act with intelligence. Inky did what was thought impossible by hurling itself out of the tank and supposedly finding the way to a drainage that lead to the Pacific Ocean. Through history, human characters have been attributed to animals, in a study known as anthropomorphism. For example, the ability of octopuses to recognize faces or squirrels to remember the location of their hidden nuts is found similar and comparable to human characteristics. However, a more recent school of thought, known as ‘anthropodenial’, highlights the denial to recognize that animals have human-like traits.
The author states that animals have cognitive abilities similar to human beings and thus failing to recognize this similarity is a form of denial. The key evidence in support of this view is the ability of animals to feel empathy for each other and learn from the past, thus predicting the future. In addition, animals have been conditioned to obey orders or behave a certain way through reward and punishment method showing their learning capabilities (Reiderer, 2016). Thus, there is need to recognize the connections between the human and animal abilities rather than denying them. The story about Inky’s escape, serves as an example supporting the view of intelligent or smart animals. However, by downplaying these traits, human beings have been able to propagate cruelty in animal rearing as well as harmful farming practices which destroy the natural habitats of animals.
Reiderer, R. (2016, April 26). Inky the Octopus and the upsides of Anthropomorphism. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/inky-the-octopus-and-the-upsides-of-anthropomorphism