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Knowing Without Question How Smart Animals Are…

Written by PETA | December 31, 2007

Animals are pretty impressive. Most of them are faster than us humans. Many of them are stronger. And now we see that some are even smarter than some of us.This isn’t a new story, but it just keeps floating around and has finally made its way to my inbox. Researchers in Japan have showed that chimpanzees can outdo college kids with some counting and memory games. Watch some of the videos below (and then scour YouTube for more). Along a related note here’s a nice clip of a crow using a tool. Chimpanzee
vs.HumanFor those who like to reader in the audience, here’s a great piece from the Sunday New York Times Magazine about “the two greatest nonhuman linguists of our day: Washoe, the sign-language-wielding chimpanzee with an intense footwear fetish; and Alex, the wildly outspoken parrot.” It all begs the question, what are we going to do in 2008 knowing now without question how smart animals are?– Joel

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  • Karen says:

    I definitely think animals aren’t smarter than humans. We’re so smart we know how smart other animals are how to make medicines how to cook read etc. We even understand some of other animals’ language!

  • Jan H says:

    years ago I remember reading about the different animals intelligence and it was laid out from smartest to least. I have looked for quite a while which is how I found this sightand can find nothing yet. any suggestions?? thanks

  • Kurt K says:

    Your right animals never engage in any kind of cruelty towards other animals because they all live in such harmony with each other. Bull! Dominant males will kill the offspring of other males to make sure their genes are passed on. Much like we humans go to war to make sure our way of living and culture is passed on. Animals do not consider consequenses of their actions towards other animals if they did they would understand that killing an animal would cause grief for the family of that animals. But they don’t care about that shit they want to survive by any means necessary. Elephants kill Rhino’s Lion kill Hyeinas domesticated cats kill everything they is smaller than they are not for food but for sport. They will kill a bird or mouse even if they just have eaten.

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    Well said by so many here and thanks Michele!! As we are the only animals that do not contribute to the ecosystem we should have some humility before the creatures who keep our planet liveable!

  • Lisamarie says:

    Whoever posted the comment saying humans are smarter “by a long shot” I see what you’re thinking but you’re thinking all wrong. Like other people have commented why would an animal need a computer? And why do we need it? Because we made the world so much more complicated than it needed to be. I find that animals are so much more happy with what they are given. A simple toy will entertain a cat and not because he’s “stupid” but just because he’s happy and doesn’t constantly need something hitech to make him feel good. I think humans measure intelligence completely wrong. Like wooow we made cars that pollute our environments and kills animals and people. Or wooow we made huge factories that destroy our one planet that we share with many other species of plants and animals. Did we ask any of them if it was okay if we polluted their world or destroyed their habitats? No one asked me either but I’m just saying why is intelligence based on industry and the like? I think I’d be much happier living like the Native Americans who appreciated the sacrafice of the buffalo they ate and lived a natural life. They seemed happy without computers.

  • rose says:

    i know this is very random but on some of my other posts people start yelling and getting out of hand. so I guess what I’m saying is thanks for staying cool. P.S. I never thought about it like that! great point ana and susannah

  • Mystique Makepeace says:

    Dear George Yes I agree. But I don’t think this kind of testing was DANGEROUS like forcefeeding an animal toxic chemicals and spraying their eyes with perfume sometimes we have to perform tests with animals to learn more about them that’s what zoology is all about. We need to know everything we can about animals so people can protect them. And in this kind of testing the tests are trying to learn about the animals THEMSELVES for science they’re not just being exploited by a selfish company.

  • Ana says:

    rose You would never confuse my attempts at drawing with the works of Leonardo da Vinci but because I am not an artist of that caliber does that make me an inferior human being? Of course not. I do excell at doing research and writing theses. Do all humans know how to do research and how to write a dissertation and then defend it? No but I do know. My point is that individuals have different strengths and talents but that doesn’t determine superiority or inferiority. Amongst us humans no one is really equal everyone is really different. Why does my cat need to attend postgraduate school? He doesn’t but I wanted to so I did go. But he does jump really high and lands from all appearances so easily. He plays and jumps and loves to curl up in my lap and purr. The way he walks atop a fence with such finesse and agility is a sight to behold. I also would like to possess his keen eyesight and hearing. I feel a need to vote as a responsible citizen my cat does not need to vote anymore than a monor child has to. My cat wakes up happy to be alive and enjoy nature humans fret over their looks weight and age. So much stress! My cat is more intelligent in that he enjoys the moment a lesson to be learned in life by us all. My cat fulfills his life as a cat and that is enough.

  • Susannah S says:

    “some person made the computer you are using right now.” That’s true Rose but what on earth would a crow DO with a computer? Each species adapts to the circumstances they find themselves living with. Crows may not be able to think binary but I bet they can find their way across vast stretches of land better than I can. They can build a fast energyefficient home that doesn’t ruin the environment for everyone else. We humans think that because the other animals don’t share our PRIORITIES that they’re not as smart as we are. Maybe not not in OUR way. But they have their own priorities and they take care of those pretty well better in fact than we take care of ours. They don’t need to invent all sorts of gizmos and gadgets and technology. Maybe it’s just their needs that are simpler not their intelligence. Maybe they’re as smart as we are only in a very different way?

  • George says:

    Doesn’t this just show animal testing though?

  • rojo says:

    tamara i don’t disagree with your human take on “cruelty”. it’s exactly what popped into my mind. Is the ultimate expression of intelligence cruelty? Not meaning for gratification more for an easy meal. Farming doesn’t mean to be cruel just as crows presumably don’t. Skinning alive is just plain wrong and undoubtably cruel. Commonsense would say it’s easier to skin something thats not struggling. ie already dead. On the “smarter than us” further up you’re on your own there

  • Michele says:

    Tamara right on! Nonhumans don’t start wars they don’t pollute waterways with toxic chemicals and factoryfarm waste they are not racist they don’t abuse andor execute prisoners they are not rapists serial killers child molesters white supremacists and they don’t engage in horrific cruel useless animal testing!

  • Shirotsuki says:

    Even when I was little I seemed to have a better understandingof animals then the rest of my family my mom has always wondered why I can’t stand animal abuse but can watch all the shows in AP about lions killing gazzelles or a hawk killing a rabbit to me I saw it as natural I knew the animals couldn’t survive without eating other animals yet I hated it when humans ate other animals. Theres no reason to ever call an animal stupid even my betta fish is smart he knows that when I pick up his container of food that he’s getting fed if I give him a different kind of food he’ll give me a “WTF?” look all you betta owners know what I’m talking aboutand flare hsi fins at me.

  • rose says:

    come on you guys. while yes some people do this the majority of people are apalled and horrified. people are smarter by a long shot. and though a crow can make a tool some person made the computer you are using right now

  • Tamara says:

    rojo I think I would put humans in that “cruelest” category as well don’t you agree? Humans slaughter animals that are still alive…skin them while they are still alive…shall I go on? And I know we don’t “mean to be ” either…heh.

  • amanda says:

    thats amazing….ugh i just wish everybody understood how important animals are how they dont deserve the treatment we give them

  • Michele says:

    Susannah S you said it! And Maya you are absolutely right regarding animal “intelligence”. There have been comments in the past from anti’s who say that animals do not deserve rights because they are not smart enough to drive a car or pay taxes. But why on earth would a crow rabbit whale etc NEED to drive a car? In addition the rights of humans are not determined by the level of intelligence in a particular human being. For example infants and mentally disabled individuals are no less entitled to basic human rights just because they would not “pass” an intelligence test. They are entitled to those rights because they are sentient beings. Animals deserve rights because they are also sentient beings. They should have the right to live their life without having humans decide their usefulness to the human species.

  • Tamara says:

    I know they are smarter than us. My parakeets…yes tiny parakeets with the attention span of a gnat…will always let me know when I’ve left one of the other birds door open. Just tonight as I was taking care of them this happened. I got distracted and they fussed and fussed. I turned around and that’s what they were trying to get my attention about. As soon as I closed the cage door everyone settled down. I once had the chance to hear Dr. Irene Pepperberg speak and I did ask her about the intellegence of parakeets…if they had a chance to compare them to Alex the African Grey. She said as far as she and the others could tell the parakeets were just as smart and could answer as many questions. But they could not get very far with the parakeets due to their limited attention spans…still…it boggles my mind… Please dont’ ask that questionwhat are we going to do in 2008. The majority of humans don’t know or care of animals intelligence. I think animals will continue to be abused neglected tortured and slaughtered. All we can do is keep shouting out about it to try and make it stop.

  • Susannah S says:

    Animals are all pretty smart actually. It’s we humans who aren’t too smart because we haven’t been able to see in all these years and centuries that we SHARE this earth with our fellow creatures that we aren’t the center of the universebut just part of it and that the other animals might have a lot to show us and teach us if we would just LOOK and LISTEN. I have seen crows squirrels mice cats dogs horses and pigs figure out complex problems either individually or in groups. There’s nothing “dumb” about them just because they can’t speak the way we do. They also communicate MUCH more effectively with our species than we do with theirs and they are no where NEAR as arrogant about it all either. So. What to DO about it? Keep raising awareness that when people eat or wear animals they’re eating and wearing truly sentient beings beings that have the SAME feelings and some of the same thoughts that we have beings who have RIGHTS to live according to THEIR own needs and not ours.

  • rojo says:

    Crows would have to be among the “cruelest”they probably don’t mean to be species on earth. Is pecking live animals eyes out and predating on the young during and after birth a sign of intelligence too?

  • Vivian says:

    Do we need any more proof that animals are equally if not smarter than most of us and for some reason we still go around thinking we are superior and treat them without respect? This video is just amazing!

  • Mystique Makepeace says:

    I agree humans have bad memories because we clog up our brains with useless thoughts like “I wonder if Julie has given birth yet” or “Damn! Where did I leave my ipod?” and “Is it me or is that cute girl giving me the buttoneyes?” or “I am in no condition to drive. Wait I can’t listen to myself I’m drunk!” Yes it’s as if humans have become so smart we’ve suddenly grown dumber.

  • Caboose says:

    It all has to do with morale.

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    I love watching corvids use tools I beleive I’ve seen evidence that ravens do this too. And BBC just reported recently that humpback whales share some of the same neurons found in human brains. I think it’s worth noting that there is a slight risk of anthropogenizing also. For animals that don’t share these abilities we should look at them from a different angle. For example a lobster probably has none of these abilities they can’t dance around or vocalize like a dolphin or do sign language like a chimp. However what purpouse would those things serve in a lobster? Form and function lobsters have abilities which are appropriate for the ecosystem in which they live. Pleasing humans is not a top priority for an animal who has to survive and serve its ocean environment. When looking at an animal instead of asking how “intelligent” it is we should ask “what survival skills does this animal have and does its presence keep the ecosystem healthy?” I promise the answers will always impress you. Form and function my dears.

  • Mark says:

    That crow video is just the beginning. I recently learned about this in a psychology class the tool was then taken away and the crow MADE a new one by bending a straight piece of wire against a wall. Then that one was taken away and she did it again. Brilliant.