Valentine’s Day—Do Animals Love? - UPDATE February 14, 2019

I know love has long been a forbidden word to use for animals, especially for a scientist, but I remember an online discussion of it put on by Science Magazine back on February 9, 2012. June and Lily 4/22/07June and Lily 4-22-07I wrote about it in the update that night https://www.bearstudy.org/website/updates/daily-updates/1535-do-animals-love-update-february-9-2012-.html. Love is one of many emotions that animals express. More and more, there is evidence of animals forming long and enduring bonds and grieving the loss of loved ones.

Lily and Hope 4-24-10Lily and Hope 4-24-10As I listened to the discussion about love back then, and now as I think about this Valentine’s Day, my mind goes back to the revealing days of Lily and Hope in their den. I remember Lily’s sweet motherly grunts and the two of them playing, snuggling, and interacting in ways that reminded me and others of human family love. I remember the most moving display of animal emotion I ever saw when Lily and Hope saw each other on May 26, 2010 after being separated for 5 days. I believe the love viewers saw online is one of the reasons young and old made these bears part of their daily lives—at home, at work, and in hundreds of schools.

Gerry at Grandfather Mountain<br>by Carolyn ThomasGerry at Grandfather Mountain
by Carolyn Thomas
My mind also goes to Gerry the Bear, an orphaned cub who I introduced to a wild mother to raise, but who crawled up on my lap to curl up and just be there whenever she could—like many dogs and cats do with the people they love. I saw love between Lily and Hope before and after their breakup. I saw it between June and cub Lily. I feel it from Ted at the Bear Center.

With love comes care, trust, and security, which is part of why I have always liked this video of Lily grooming cub Faith to remove ticks back on May 14, 2012. I like the care Lily showed and the trusting acceptance Faith showed https://youtu.be/3-Zg3IXSRAk.

Good memories from what was the best period of my research—with perhaps more to come.

Thank you for all you do and have done.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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