Science has shown us the depth of intelligence in many animals, including many that people don’t expect to see on the list. Cows are one of the animals that people don’t always expect to be considered highly intelligent, but they have broken the barriers set in front of their time and time again. Surprisingly, cows are pretty smart.
Cattle have been shown to have fantastic memories. They can remember people and other animals. Farmers have reported that their cows would remember which cars belonged to the people who fed them. Cows have even been reported to remember others, people, and cows alike, who mistreated them and held grudges.
Cows have been shown to have a deceptive depth of emotion. When a mother is separated from her calf, farmers report that she will call and search frantically for her baby for days, even weeks. Cows will also mourn their friends and family, standing vigil over their loved ones after their passing.
What Does Science Say About Smart Cows?
The Psychology of Cows explores the intellect of cows on various empirical metrics to start debunking the myth that livestock animals are stupid. Cows showed aptitude in various tasks, including rapid learning, long-term memory, and determining the location of a moving object.
Cows were also shown to experience social contagion, where the emotional state of one cow affects those around it. For instance, if one cow is stressed and begins to show signs of emotional distress, the other cows in their herd will also show signs of stress.
Cows have also been shown to understand the life and death of others and the concept of killing. A cow in Virginia named Idabelle broke free when being loaded onto a freighter. She eluded capture for several days, even while pregnant, before being sent to an animal sanctuary.
Another cow named Emily jumped over a 5-foot-tall gate at a slaughterhouse and ran into the woods. She, too, escaped capture before being sent away to an animal sanctuary where she lived out the rest of her life.
Cows have shown they can understand the complex stimuli involved with slaughterhouses. They have demonstrated on numerous occasions that they know what all the things around them mean.
While it may be uncomfortable to accept that cows are highly intelligent animals, science is already out there to prove that they can comprehend the world around them. Animal behaviorists are putting more research out every day into the inner workings of the minds of all animals. Treating them humanely is the least we can do for these animals.
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