The empathy of tigers towards humans – Rebecca’s goosebump moment
Rebecca: “Hi! I am from Luxembourg. My goosebump moment would probably be from when I used to work as an animal handler in a breeding center for endangered species. I was having a really rough day – or month – so I went to hang out with my favourite tiger. He was kind of watching me for a minute and he came over and just rested his forehead against mine and stared into my eyes. We just sat like that for a really long time. It was the first time in ages that I remember not feeling alone. It was also the first time that I felt 100% certain that they feel empathy, tigers, just like us, because he was right there with me. So yeah, it is a moment I will never forget!”
Tigers feel empathy
The feeling of feeling the pain of others when they suffer not only evolved in homo sapiens, but is characteristic of other mammals as varied as the elephant and the mouse and, of course, big cats, such as the tiger. It is believed that an animal as majestic as a tiger can have relationships with humans, love them, and even feel empathy for them. They can even have relationships with other types of animals.
It may be hard to believe that a wild animal that is considered dangerous to humans can feel human pain. But today, thanks to science, we know that these animals feel pain because they have, like us, a central nervous system. This does not only make them feel physically and emotionally bad, but they also seem to be able to perceive it in other species.
All animals feel
In 2012, a group of researchers proved that all mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish and some invertebrates have feelings. Animals are like humans: they feel pain, fear, pleasure and positive emotions.
Animals are not things; they are their own person and deserve to be treated with respect. Even more so because they can understand us. They feel what is happening around them, that is, they are conscious beings. All the structure of the central nervous system that humans have, animals have as well.
Animals feel emotions and give us all kinds of signals that deserve our attention. If they are upset, it is because something is not right. It’s the same for them as it is for us.
How important are tigers?
All living things have a role in the ecosystem and the lack of one can alter the entire cycle of life. In the case of tigers, their importance lies in biocontrol to prevent the proliferation of some species, as well as helping the survival of others.
The tiger, besides being a majestic animal, in its role as top predator, maintains a healthy habitat by stabilizing the populations of rapidly reproducing grazing animals, such as deer. If their numbers were not controlled, these grass-eating animals would overfeed and create an imbalance in the habitat.
Another aspect to highlight is that thanks to their majesty and attractiveness, tigers help promote tourism in the countries where they live.
More about tigers