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Conversing with The Four Legged KindEdit

The relationship between animals and humans has been quite evident in past centuries and still exists to this date. Humans have been training animals to work with them, hunt with them and guide them. Despite lacking the ability to speak, animals have been known to respond and react to words, sentences, phrases and commands from a human being. Most animals can sense our thoughts and feelings, especially domesticated animals. If an animal can understand the language of humans, then why can’t we as humans, understand their thoughts or feelings and communicate with them? 

The "Anna Breytenbach" StoryEdit

Anna Breytenbach is one woman in particular who believes she can do so. Anna is a professional animal communicator who first discovered her talent of being able to speak to animals while in South Africa. She has been practicing animal communication since the past twelve years and continues to do so. One of her most famous stories is a YouTube video describing how she uses her talent to transform a snarling vicious leopard into a calm content cat. 

The video begins with a short write up about Anna Breytenbachs’ talent for interspecies communication. It explains how she communicates by sending detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts and then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals. The narrator of the video then explains how a black leopard named Diablo (meaning Devil in Spanish) was rescued from a German zoo where he was abused for six years and brought to a wild animal sanctuary belonging to a couple. The couple soon realize that it is beyond their control to tame the wild cat after he attacked his rescuer. Every time they make an attempt to feed the cat, the cat snarls at them in a rancorous manner. The couple could immediately tell that something was bothering the big cat because of his change in behavior. They suspected he was abused at the zoo he was rescued from as he would pace back and forth restlessly every time he was around human company. 

The video shows the viewer other signs of the leopards’ restless behavior such as his ears pulled back, the flicking of his tail, low but deep sounding snarls, exposure of his teeth and so on. The couple finally decide to seek Anna Breytenbachs’ help. What happens next in the video is mind-boggling. As soon as Anna walks up to the leopards’ cage, he calms down and lets her kneel next to his cage without snarling at her. She takes a few minutes to communicate with him silently and then goes on to give details of the leopards past to the couple that rescued him. 

After communicating with the leopard, she tells the couple that the reason for his behavior is because he cannot trust another human being after all those years of abuse in the German Zoo. She goes on to say that the leopard doesn’t like being called Diablo because he doesn’t like the associations with it - the darkness, the blackness, the diabolical view. She mentally reassures the leopard that the couple have no demands of him and are quite content with letting him be who he wants to be. We see the couple change their opinion about Breytenbachs’ gift and eventually believe wholeheartedly that she can communicate with animals.

Anna Breytenbach is one of the lesser known animal communicators. Caesar Millan, also known as the “Dog whisperer” is a world famous animal communicator who increased his popularity with the help of his own television show. Similarly, Kevin Richardson, “the man who plays with lions” is known for his outstanding ability to communicate with lions, cheetahs, hyenas and other big wild cats. 

The Academic PerspectiveEdit

Many people believe that communication with animals is an inborn talent that cannot easily be learned or taught. According to researcher Michael Balter’s article “Animal Communication Helps Reveal Roots of Language”, animals communicate with other species all the time. Balter states that only humans appear to have true language, the ability to use abstract words and symbols and combine them in a seemingly infinite variety of meanings. 

The first source used in this essay is a popular media source, which is YouTube. Since this website is more popular, the video on animal telepathy has more chances of being viewed than an article such as the above mentioned one. Even though the video link is almost fourteen minutes long, it grabs the viewers’ attention due to the background music and the special effects in the video. The narrator of the video makes it easier for the viewer to understand the concept of animal telepathy by giving the viewer a visual example. Most people tend to remember concepts better when presented in a visual form. The second source is a scholarly research source published in a science journal. This type of source is detailed and lengthy and makes it difficult for the reader to maintain the same level of concentration. After all, we’re human and one’s attention span is only limited to an extent. 

The academic discourse differs from the popular video source in other ways too. The scholarly source may be lengthy, but it contains a lot more information such as facts and statistics in comparison to the video. The YouTube video does grab ones’ attention, but the background music when the narrator speaks and the way in which the camera pans from one angle to another, makes the video seem more dramatic, thereby losing it’s true purpose of educating the viewer. On one hand, videos have the advantage of being etched in a persons’ memory for a longer time, and on the other, it makes it difficult to convey all the information in just one video. 

Putting these differences aside, when we think about the similarities between the scholarly and the popular video source, both the sources have one thing in common – the purpose of educating the audience about the way animals communicate with humans and vice versa. Another observable point in the scholarly article is the use of a few photos in order to make the article more appealing. 

Advice for future writersEdit

For students beginning to write academically, the advice I would give them is to not avoid the use of photos and links amongst information as people tend to remember information better when it is presented in a visual form. When given a choice between a lengthy article that lacks photos and one that doesn’t lack photos, most people would pick the latter. When writing a research paper, it is best to use statistics to keep the reader interested. Using links to YouTube videos (like in the first source used in this essay) is recommended as it will break the monotonous flow of a wordy written format. Using links to other similar related sources is also recommended. Including interviews and real life stories as examples to make a valid point is definitely a win-win when writing an interesting academic paper. 

Last but not the least, one must keep in mind not to use terms that confuse the reader. The article should have terms that can be understood by any individual. Keeping the paper simple and to the point is definitely the way to keep your readers’ attention.


Works CitedEdit

1. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/328/5981/969.full

2. http://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/the-incredible-story-of-how-leopard-diabolo-became-spirit-anna-breytenbach-animal-communicator/