Monday, April 16, 2007

The Eyes of Speedo

This is from Marc Bekoff's new book, The Emotional Lives of Animals. I contributed to one of Marc's publishing projects, and in reading the book now, I find it comforting, and hopeful, in this time of dark news from Blacksburg VA.

This revelation about his career direction is particularly moving. I know that Marc thinks about Speedo all the time, and I am most grateful for his sharing of this story.

"In fact, the eyes of a cat were instrumental in my development as a scientist. A doctoral research project I was once involved in required us to kill the cats we were studying. However, when I went to get “Speedo,” a very intelligent cat that I’d secretly named – secretly, because we weren’t supposed to name “subjects” – for the final exit from his cage, his fearlessness disappeared as if he knew that this was his last journey. As I picked him up, he looked at me and asked, “Why me?” Tears came to my eyes. He wouldn’t break his piercing stare. Though I followed through with what I was supposed to do and killed him, it broke my heart to do so. To this day I remember his unwavering eyes – they told the whole story of the interminable pain and indignity he had endured. Others in the program tried to reassure me that it was all worth it, but I never recovered from that experience.

So I left the program and entered another one in which naming was not only permitted but actively encouraged, and I resolved not to conduct research that involved intentionally inflicting pain or causing the death of another being." (p. 51)

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