Over the centuries people have pondered what separates us from the animals, and one after another the theories have fallen. We're not the only animal that uses tools, some say there are animals that have a form of language, and so on.
But here's the real difference: When one species is up against another, an animal will always take the side of its own kind. Not humans.
Take the case lately of a British man who was attacked by an owl:
A man was left was left lying in a pool of his own blood after his head was ripped open by an eagle owl.
John MacKay, 58, of North Kessock, Inverness-shire, was walking into a masonic club when he suddenly woke up on the floor with a "fountain" of blood pouring from his skull.
Sitting on a nearby van was a two-foot high eagle owl glaring down at him.
"It was as if I had been hit by a brick or something as it had ripped my head open and the blood was everywhere - it had erupted like a fountain."
Mr MacKay was able to crawl into the club to get help and staff immediately dialled an ambulance to pick him up.Seems pretty clear who needs our concern here, but when a reporter consults an alleged expert who works with birds of prey, here's what he says:
"For me the welfare of the bird is important now, so I'm keen to find it."Or take the incident in Florida where some pet lemurs got loose and scratched a two-year-old. What did the neighbors say?
"There's nothing wrong with the monkeys, they're very peaceful, we feed them and everything," said neighbor Carlos Lezcano. "Like any other animals around, we got raccoons, we got cats, we got every kind of animals around here, which is beautiful."But some go beyond making excuses. Some who ought to know better are actually giving animals sophisticated tools. At the National Zoo, orangutans now have iPads. Sure, right now they're mostly playing virtual instruments, and one "enjoys watching animated fish swim in a virtual koi pond on the screen." But knowing what damage can be done by the use of computers, should we really trust them to stop at that?