Goats get emotional? Humans shouldn’t be surprised – all mammals are amazing | Jules Howard

Research showing goats can communicate emotion by bleating should help us build empathy with our fellow animals

Wicksteed Park in Kettering is not known for its miracles, but on that day, it was if a holy statue was weeping blood. Within minutes of the incredible event beginning, a great crowd coalesced. The elderly and infirm got out of their chairs. Children were put on shoulders. There were gasps. There was awe. I can tell you what happened but you may prefer to sit down first. Because two weeks ago, almost to the day, a goat in this small-town theme park climbed a tree in its enclosure. “But … goats can’t climb trees,” came the murmurs from the crowd. “What is it doing?” they asked, with confused astonishment. I watched with great delight. These people clearly had an idea of what a goat is and what a goat does and were being met with a new reality where goats could also happily climb trees, a behaviour goats regularly employ in the wild to find the juiciest leaves. To the people of Kettering, who were not aware of tree-climbing goats, it was as if they were looking at a flying monkey.

Related: Goats can distinguish emotions from each other’s calls – study

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Goats get emotional? Humans shouldn’t be surprised – all mammals are amazing | Jules Howard