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Animal welfare

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Jeffrey Kluger

For Jeffrey Kluger’s feature on animal grieving in this week’s issue, TIME reached out to noted animal photographer Charlotte Dumas, who has been making deeply empathetic portraits of a variety of species for years.

If animals nurture their own (which they do) and care about their kin (they do that too) why would we not assume they mourn their dead? A growing group of researchers are coming to the conclusion that animals not only grieve, but in some cases grieve deeply. That’s an easy case to make by simple observation, but not in any other way. When you’re working with animals, there’s no possibility of the self-reporting that is so central a part of studies of human psychology. But when it comes to the beasts, those observations might be enough.

There are the elephants that hold what appear to be wakes for their dead — hovering over them as they die and coming back for a week or more to mind and tend the remains. There are the crows that similarly circle a fallen flock-mate and will bring twigs in seeming tribute and even cover the remains with grass. Dogs and cats will wander their homes looking for a lost littermate or playmate and often sink into what looks for all the world like the lethargy and lack of appetite that are the hallmarks of human depression. Bonobo and baboon mothers will carry their dead babies for weeks after they’ve died — and dolphin mothers will similarly push their lost young along through the water.

Studies of brain and blood chemistry — to they extent they exist for animals — confirm that something like a grief reaction is taking place. Baboons exhibit an uptick in hormones that lead to stress and later affiliation when a member of the troop is killed by a predator, and this is especially so among the friends or close social companions of the victim. Crows show stress reactions in the amygdala, just as humans do, and that response would likely be more acute if a mate died, particularly since crows may pair off for 20 years — longer than a lot of human marriages.

(Read more: The Mystery of Animal Grief )

In all animal research there is the ever-present risk of anthropomorphism. We refract their behavior through the prism of our own because that’s what we know best. But here it makes sense. All of the beasts — humans included — exist on a sort of continuum of intelligence, emotion and social complexity. Just because we’re at the top of that heap, doesn’t mean that the beasts below us don’t have experiences to ours — even if they’re briefer, blunter, simpler. Animals are social creatures and they’re also sentient creatures. The pain of death is likely not something they’re spared.

Charlotte Dumas is a photographer based in Amsterdam. Her latest book,
Anima, features the burial horses of Arlington Cemetery.

Jeffrey Kluger is an editor-at-large at TIME, oversees the magazine’s science, health and technology reporting.

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Gaston Lacombe

Captive

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In zoos all around the world, visitors go to admire some of the most beautiful, rare or fierce creatures on Earth, but often fail to notice the deplorable habitats in which they are kept.

I have been gathering pictures from zoos all around for the last three years. I like most zoos — I really do. Some zoos need to be congratulated for making great efforts at conserving endangered species, providing shelter to animals who could not otherwise survive and educating the public on ecological issues.

However, even in the best zoos, there are animals that are stuck in cement enclosures too small for their needs, or in rooms where the only vegetation they see are the plants painted on the wall. I’ve seen animals living in cages where they cannot even sit up, or have no access to daylight or clean water. At these moments, I feel guilty for supporting a system that treats animals cruelly, and at these moments, I take pictures.

 

Bio

Gaston Lacombe is a photographer and filmmaker, originally from the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

He has left his footprints all over the globe, including living in Latvia for 12 years, and is presently based in Washington DC. He completed his Professional Photography degree at the Center for the Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University (Washington DC campus), and also has studied at the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. level in History.

He specializes mostly in documentary projects that have taking him to all corners of the planet. This includes an art residency in Antarctica with the government of Argentina in early 2012. His work has been shown in PDN magazine, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, and many other publications. His photos have also been exhibited in solo and group shows in North America and Europe, including at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

 

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Gaston Lacombe

 

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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include researchers dressed in panda costumes, a massage given by an African snail, a 39-pound cat named Meow, a Japanese macaque with hay fever, and orangutans having a playdate using FaceTime on an iPad. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [41 photos]

Polar bear cub Anori explores the outdoor enclosure at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Monday, April 23, 2012. Anori was born on January 4 and is becoming a visitor's highlight. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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May 2-June 2
Team Gallery 83 Grand Street New York, NY 10013
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Animals consists of McGinley’s color studio portraits of live animals with nude models. The exhibition is his first made up exclusively of selections from this growing, and ambitious, body of work. The artist visited various sanctuaries, zoos, and rescue establishments across the United States, erecting a mobile studio wherever possible and working with a number of pre-eminent animal trainers. The animals are not mere props in photographs of people; on the contrary, McGinley considers them the subjects of these images. There exists both tension and tenderness between the models and wild animals, as they claw, clutch, nibble, and hug one another.

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