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Under Water, Over Land
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Old July 12th, 2006, 01:26 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques Mersereau
They have and demonstrate many of the same 'good' qualities that we humans aspire to achieve.
I agree with all your observations about the intelligence of creatures Jacques. The reason I pick on and quote this one observation of yours is that I wish I had found the words myself. I know several who would challenge what you've said here but I really value this insight.

To me, what you're implying here, intentionally or otherwise, is that evolution of "attitude", "sensitivity to the needs of others", "awareness of a duty to care" etc etc has evolved right across the whole range of creatures, great and small. Is the only qualification to this that creatures only "care for" those within their own species? Or why are some dogs prepared to play with cats ... is that a sort of "blurring of the difference between us because we come from the same pad or block"? Do cats play with strange dogs? White storks certainly accommodate starlings and sparrows building nests and rearing their young within the same pile of twigs.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 02:15 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Brendan Marnell
To me, what you're implying here, intentionally or otherwise, is that evolution of "attitude", "sensitivity to the needs of others", "awareness of a duty to care" etc etc has evolved right across the whole range of creatures, great and small. Is the only qualification to this that creatures only "care for" those within their own species?
One striking example of cross-species care and concern was told in a newspaper article I read 40 years ago. In South Africa, a farmer had an old crow for a pet. He brought in a young dog and soon, the crow became its friend. They even shared food from the same dish. Then, the dog disappeared and a week went by with no sign of it. However, the farmer noticed that the crow started flying off with scraps of food and would return shortly for more. At first, he thought that he had taken a mate and was carrying food to young ones in a nest. So the farmer started following the bird as it flew and after several trips, tracked it to its destination. There, he found the dog, caught by the foot in a trap at the edge of a stream, that had been set for a fur-bearing animal. The crow had found its friend and had been keeping it alive with the food it brought. Luckily, it could reach the water to drink.

I've personally seen another interesting example of this. The peanut feeder I have for jays and crows, is placed on a tall, greased pole, to exclude squirrels. However, the largest and oldest jay often does something quite remarkable. When a squirrel approaches the base of the feeder, the jay will pick up a peanut and toss it right down at its feet. Is it possible that the squirrel has some favor it does for the jay? If I keep watching them long enough, I might figure this out. Or does the jay somehow recognize the injustice of my discriminatory feeding practices and altruistically do this to even things out? Critics who might call this an anthropomorphic interpretation, are invited to offer another explanation.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 03:01 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques Mersereau
Many birds are far more intelligent than anyone would ever credit them. They have and demonstrate many of the same 'good' qualities that we humans aspire to achieve. You find that out when you spend a lot of personal time with them. Loyalty, bravery, work ethic, ingenuity, kindness, gentleness, playfulness etc., etc. They are not unthinking, unfeeling beings . . . just the opposite.
Let me tell a few more details about the swan I rescued, that illustrates this level of wisdom. The person who lived at the recovery pond went out twice a day, with a bucket of mixed grain for all the waterfowl that came there. When the injured swan was first patched together and put into the pond, he spent a day swimming all around it, searching for an escape route. When he realized he was stuck there, he decided to make the best of his situation and came right over with the other birds at feeding time. Some of the grain was tossed far out into the water, so he could reach his long neck down and grab it, but still keep a safe distance from this person. After 3 days, he figured out that the birds on the shore were getting more food and he hauled out and joined them. Within a week, he was coming over to his caretaker and eating right from the bucket and a week after that, he would eat directly from his hand. However, he instantly recognized me as the one who had terrorized him, by chasing him down in a boat and who had given him pain with a scalpel. He would come nowhere near shore when I was present and was always giving some swan curse words, in a low voice. I had to go into the nearby house and peer through the shades, or he wouldn't come to the person he knew to be his friend.

When his wing had healed and his new flight feathers grew out after the Summer molt, he spent a week exercising his muscles by taxiing up and down the pond. He didn't try to fly, until he knew his body was ready. Then one evening, he lifted up and flew on a straight line to the lake where I'd found him. Even though he was brought there in a gunneysack after dark, he knew exactly where he was all along. I drove out to the lake and he was sitting right in the middle. I see his calmness during recovery and his careful preparation before trying to fly, as an indication he had a concept of the future and understood the delayed results of his actions. When I was chasing him in the boat, after he'd been shot by a poacher, his mate flew close circles overhead, calling loudly. She wouldn't leave him, even though her own life could have been in danger. I have hoped so much that they were reunited when the flocks came back in the Fall and what better love story could be invented than that? Those who have studied wild swans say they recognize and show affection and respect for their parents and brood mates, all through their lives and even recognize their grandparents, by watching these same things in their parents' behavior.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; July 13th, 2006 at 03:35 AM.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 05:37 AM   #34
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sexual activity

Recent BBC nature doc showed how 2 mature bull elephants were transported 500 kilometres across South Africa to an area where killer elephant activity had been linked to a particular young bull elephant. It emerged that this young bull had been rescued years before when his adult family were shot by poachers. He had been put with other rescued orphans in an elephant orphanage and left there for years without the influence of adult elephants ... he had become sexually active much earlier than he would in the wild ... and he was released and soon developed into a young killer (of whatever came in his way?). Rather than put him down, the park authorities (showing considerable insight) drafted in the 2 mature bulls to "sort him out".
Over a period of several months the young bulls behaviour was changed during regular contact with his elders, he gradually calmed down, became sexually inactive and seems to have lost his killer instinct. How about that?

Does that say anything at all about "postponing sexual activity"? Or would we prefer to pretend it doesn't?
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