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The Opinion Pages – New York Times:

Published: May 19 2011

To the Editor:

David Brooks draws an unfair line between humans and other animals.

Virtue is widespread in nature. Studies have found that chimpanzees show spontaneous helping behavior toward humans and fellow chimps. They also console victims of violence and show gratitude for favors. Chickens, prairie dogs, songbirds and others sound the alarm at an approaching predator, heightening personal risk by drawing attention to themselves.

Vampire bats share blood meals with nonrelatives who are unable to forage because they are sick or giving birth. Sparrows, seals, monkeys, orangutans, chimps, rats and hens have all been shown to demonstrate restraint.

Unfortunately, humans show little restraint when it comes to using animals for their own ends. In the time it takes to read this letter, thousands of chickens are killed to be eaten by Americans.

Germantown, Md., May 17, 2011

The writer is an independent consultant on animal behavior and humane research.

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