Rats display empathy, so why don’t animal experimenters?

The recent experiment on rats is far from the first time that empathy has been seen in animals in laboratories. In one notoriously cruel experiment, macaque monkeys were given food only if they pulled a chain that electrically shocked another monkey. Nearly all the monkeys preferred to go hungry, and one macaque went without food for 12 days rather than cause pain to another. Monkeys who had previously been shocked were even more reluctant to pull the chain and subject another individual to such punishment. Mice and rats will also starve rather than hurt friends.


At one laboratory where PETA conducted an undercover investigation, video footage shows a small caged monkey tugging on the coat of a worker who was mercilessly beating another monkey. The caged monkey weighed no more than 15 pounds to the worker’s 170, but he wanted to help his friend.