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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 16 - Dr. Marc Bekoff

Marc Bekoff

Dr. Marc Bekoff brings infinite wisdom and compassion to our relationships with animals. He is a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a past Guggenheim fellow. His scientific research includes animal behavior and cognitive ethology, which is the study of animal minds. With over 1000 articles and 30 books thus far, Marc is a leader in behavioral ecology, and pioneered the field of compassionate conservation.. His homepage is


"I wrote a book called Minding Animals that was published in 2002, and the phrase really refers to "minding animals" in terms of caring for them, being their guardians and "minding" them, attributing minds to them."

"But as the years went on, it just became clearer that we’re dealing predominately with sentient and feeling beings, who care about what happens to them and their friends and their family. And they’re also smart. …it’s not an animal rights position per se. We’re not saying that each individual has this or that right. In a sense, you could look at it that way, but we’re really saying that each individual has an interest in being alive, and we need to honor that interest."

"Compassionate conservation is motivated by first "no harm" and individuals count, recognizing that every being has value and their life needs to be taken into account. And the first: "do no harm" really meaning that we need to really strive for peaceful coexistence among everyone."

"The bottom line -- and conservation psychologists are showing this constantly -- is when other animals lose, we lose. We don’t realize it, but it’s win-win when we care for other animals and their homes, and we lose a lot when we just wantonly harm and kill them."

"But in the end, I think we’re going to win by being passionate and positive, and just showing clearly on the large scale that the way we “manage” other animals by killing them doesn’t work."

"There’s no reason to kill animals as trophies. It objectifies them. It completely removes any value to their life -- and the value might have and that’s why I call it often "trophy murder." It’s premeditated."

"I would just focus on kids and hope that they would incorporate into their heart, and into their physical being, their physical well-being, the importance of getting outside. And hoping that those sorts of exposures will also make them better guardians of animals in the earth."

"It could be 10 or 15 years ago, Jane Goodall and I visited a high school in Denver, and there was a Roots and Shoots group there. And I was really touched because the kids working the Roots and Shoots were becoming rodent experts, because they lived where rats lived. It stilled me, their enthusiasm and saying “we're really learning about these animals” and “wow, they live in families.” I just remember this experience, it essentially rewilded me, because I had never lived in that situation."



Kids & animals, Marc Bekoff, Foreword by Jane Goodall

Jasper's story: Saving moon bears, by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff

The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall, edited by Dale Peterson and Marc Bekoff





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