Do animals cry ?

Although animals don’t cry the way people do, they are capable of producing tears. Since lachrimation (or tear production) is important in keeping eyes healthy, most vertebrates can produce tears.

Mammals produce tears through their lachrymal system, a group of tissues that create water. Tears are important in cleaning the cornea and keeping it moist, while the salt content in tears creates an “osmotic balance” within the eyes. Once dirt or other types of irritants come in contact with the eyes, more tears are produced to help in cleansing. In addition, the fluid produced in tears is very rich in nutrients with antibacterial properties, naturally helping to fight possible infections.

Unlike humans, it is impossible to determine if the tears produced by animals are a result of emotions or by mere eye irritations. However, majority of scientists believe that humans are the only mammals that can produce “emotional” tears.

Since animals cry out to express emotional distress, many scientists believe that animals can exhibit grief and other emotions. Baby animals, like elephants and bear cubs, cry out when separated from their mothers. Some animals exhibit grief when their masters leave or die.

Anthropomorphism, a practice that attributes human emotions to animals, usually has a factual basis since various examples like dogs refusing to eat after losing a canine friend or dolphins carrying their dead babies for days. Although it is impossible to determine what animals are feeling, such behaviors indicate real emotions.

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