By Dr. Elizabeth Ormerod, SCAS Chair
Edward O. Wilson, the renowned biologist passed away in December 2021 at the age of 92. His Biophilia Hypothesis (1984) stated that humans have a need to affiliate with other life forms, that our very existence depends upon this. He hypothesised that this need is innate, part of our evolutionary heritage and associated with genetic fitness. And that it is the basis for an ethic of care and nature conservation, especially for supporting biodiversity. In my work, whether delivering humane education to children, or in animal-assisted interventions with offenders, the deep interest in animal care and behaviour shown by all participants is, I feel related to the Biophilia Hypothesis. The need for animal contact is especially strong in people who are incarcerated and others in long-term care settings, and animal companionship should therefore not be denied.
Wilson’s work had great influence on our field. I strongly recommend The Biophilia Hypothesis, which he co-edited with Stephen Kellert. It is published by Shearwater and was reprinted in 1995.