You can see signs of human love for animals almost everywhere if you look.
To start, there are more pets than humans in Australia. They might be dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, or guinea pigs. Some individuals have pet horses, snakes, or lizards. A school friend of mine had a pet skunk.
Some of us treat pets like our children. We have birthday parties for them. We think about them while at work, put cameras in our home to watch them while we are away, or put mobile cameras on them to see where they roam.
We give pets cute names — sometimes human names. We search frantically when they go missing. We grieve when they die.
Human affection for animals goes beyond pets. We also like wild animals. That is one reason we visit zoos and aquariums and hike into wild areas. That is why governments pass laws protecting endangered animals.
I once saw an echidna snuffling near my office. I watched that critter for a long time. When I see a kangaroo or a koala near work, I feel happy. I feel Australian.
Children and some adults love long-gone animals such as dinosaurs. Anyone remember Barney, the beloved cartoon Tyrannosaurus?
Why do humans like animals so much?
One reason is that we are biologically oriented toward loving our children, and animals seem to us like children. Pets need help and appreciate our help. Also, they often provide us with affection. We expect less from animals than we do from adult humans, so we tend to be more satisfied with the critters.
It may also be that we see animals as extensions of us — as part of life.
We humans have a bunch of love to give. Some of it flows to animals.
Vegetarians might interject that people who like animals often have a blind spot regarding animals killed for human consumption.
Over the coming years I expect that many Aussies will replace real meat, fish, and fowl with phony foods — because of a love of animals. I eat phony fish made overseas and phony hotdogs and roast made in Australia.
I worry about the many people who work in animal-consumption industries. However, I suspect they will continue to do well for decades as the world becomes wealthier and formerly poor people clamour for animal meat.
At some point though, animal killing may become almost as rare as human killing.