Study: Rats Exhibit Empathy

New research has found that rats experience feelings of empathy and the desire to help others.


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A new study published in Science magazine has found that rats display behaviors of empathy and will even choose to help other rats over receiving food rewards. Conducted at the University of Chicago, the experiment found that when untrained rats were presented with the option of freeing a trapped cage-mate by opening a door or indulging in chocolate behind another door, the rats chose to help their cage-mate. When given both options simultaneously, rats would free their cage-mates and then share the chocolate together. In a discussion on the study from The Huffington Post, writer Marc Bekoff comments, “The desperation of science to rob animals of their sentience produces distortions that open the door for egregious and reprehensible abuse.”

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