Americans love animals more than they used to – even ‘scary’ ones


There are 48 days until the presidential election, and it often feels as if we Americans are at each other’s throats. Sometimes it seems as though all we can agree on — or agree to click “like” on — are dog and cat videos, right?

Actually, that’s not so far from the truth. Americans do broadly have positive feelings about dogs and cats — and they also feel warmer and fuzzier about wild animals, such as sharks and wolves, than they did four decades ago.

That’s when ecologist Stephen Kellert and colleagues carried out what became a keystone survey of Americans’ attitudes toward animals. Researchers recently conducted the survey again, and they found that while dogs and cats maintained their rock-solid top spots in U.S. hearts, creatures that were long hated have risen in the ranks. According to the results,published this month in the journal Biological Conservation, Americans today feel “significantly more positive about “bats, sharks, vultures, wolves and coyotes” than they did in 1978.

Those differences could signal “growing concern for the welfare of animals — both wild and domestic,” the authors wrote, and that could help wildlife conservation efforts. But they offer a counterintuitive note of caution: It could also lead to more fighting over how to treat animals.



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