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Throughout human history, animals have played a crucial role in our lives, from providing food, transportation, and labour to serving as companions and sources of inspiration. By studying the interactions between humans and animals in the past, we can gain a deeper understanding of our relationship with the natural world and the enduring bond between animals and humans.
Back in 2022, I started a new online video series called Animals in History with the aim of raising awareness of inspirational animal stories, examples of key figures and the important role their animals played in their lives, and more.
One reason why looking at animals in history is important is that it allows us to gain insights into the ways in which humans have used and exploited animals for their own purposes. For example, the domestication of animals was a key factor in the development of agriculture and the rise of human civilizations. The use of animals in war, transportation, and industry has also been an important part of human history.
At the same time, studying the historical interactions between humans and animals can also help us to appreciate the complex and often ambiguous nature of our relationship with other species. While animals have been valued for their usefulness, some have also been feared, reviled, and hunted as pests or threats. Yet despite this, humans have also developed deep emotional and spiritual connections with certain animals, such as pets or sacred animals in religious traditions.
By studying the historical interactions between humans and animals, we can gain a greater understanding of the ways in which our attitudes and relationships with animals have evolved over time. This knowledge can also help us to develop more ethical, humane and sustainable ways of interacting with animals in the present and future.
My Animals in History series has covered a range of stories from animals that have saved lives in acts of terror, played vital roles in the war effort, been sent into space, kidnapped, worshipped, or have been the inspiration for influential music by Mozart and inventions by Tesla. To learn more, you can watch the different episodes available via my YouTube channel. And, I welcome your thoughts and comments for ever-improving this series, and suggestions for future episodes. See an example below, featuring the dramatic story of the dogs involved in the life-saving 1925 Serum Run.