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Zoo Logic

Feb 21, 2019

Historically, animal professionals were discouraged from sharing feelings of grief over the loss of a pet or zoo animal. To do otherwise might call into question one's ability to remain objective when managing, studying, or conserving wild species. In other words, emotionally speaking, animals should be kept at arm's length and zookeepers shouldn't have favorites!

Such attitudes about the need to acknowledge one's grief over the passing of a favorite furry, scaly or feathered friend seem to be changing, especially as modern zoos must now grapple with the often competing priorities of preserving entire populations through dispassionate science-based principles, while also balancing the welfare needs of individual animals within those populations. 

Increasingly, zoological and veterinary organizations are realizing the importance of processing grief not just for pet owners, but for keepers and the general public, too. Our guest, Ann Howie, is an author and mental health professional who integrates animals into her counseling practice. She describes things we should and should not do to help ourselves and others process grief.