In quite possibly the most awww-inspiring experiment ever conducted, researchers found that animals can love, just like humans. Paul Zak writes about a series of studies in which he was involved in the Atlantic, all of them revolving around oxytocin, the “neurochemical of love” that’s released when humans engage in any number of activities from bonding with their children to having sex to, yes, interacting with animals. But Zak was interested in seeing whether animals, too, saw an increase in oxytocin production during certain interactions.
He went to an animal refuge in Arkansas, where a young male terrier and a young male goat regularly enjoyed playing with one another. Blood samples were taken from both animals, before and after 15 minutes of play. Zak found that after playing together, the dog’s oxytocin increased 48%—meaning that, as Zak puts it, “the dog was quite attached to the goat,” and thought of him as a “friend.” But the goat’s oxytocin increased an incredible 210%, showing that “the goat might have been in love with the dog,” Zak says, as that’s what an equivalent surge in a human would likely mean.
What do you think? Have you ever witnessed animals in love?
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