PHIL 6000: History and Theory of Cuteness
You think that's cute? It gets better. The entire third chapter of Darwin's Descent of Man, "Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals," is a compendium of cute animal stories meant to illustrate that animals have most of the same feelings and cognitive processes as humans. Darwin seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time at the Zoological Gardens, watching the antelopes, chatting with the keepers, and messing with the monkeys' heads. He also has a large collection of second-hand observations of animal behaviour, including this account of a captive baboon, observed "by Brehm in N. Africa":
One female baboon had so capacious a heart that she not only adopted young monkeys of other species, but stole young dogs and cats, which she continually carried about...An adopted kitten scratched this affectionate baboon, who certainly had a fine intellect, for she was much astonished at being scratched, and immediately examined the kitten's feet, and without more ado bit off the claws.This anecdote has a footnote, which reads:
A critic, without any grounds...disputes the possibility of this act as described by Brehm, for the sake of discrediting my work. Therefore I tried, and found that I could readily seize with my own teeth the sharp little claws of a kitten nearly five weeks old.I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a picture of Darwin again without imagining him nibbling at a kitten.