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Posts Tagged ‘tiger’

The New York Times Science section had a cute piece in January about surprising friendships among different species of animals. Perhaps you saw it.

Erica Goode reported, “Videos of unlikely animal pairs romping or snuggling have become so common that they are piquing the interest of some scientists, who say they invite more systematic study. Among other things, researchers say, the alliances could add to an understanding of how species communicate, what propels certain animals to connect across species lines and the degree to which some animals can adopt the behaviors of other species.

” ‘There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,’ said Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, who added that one video he liked to show students was of a small and persistent tortoise tussling over a ball with a Jack Russell terrier. …

“Until recently, any suggestion that interspecies relationships might be based simply on companionship would probably have been met with derision, dismissed as Pixar-like anthropomorphism. That has changed as research has gradually eroded some boundaries between homo sapiens and other animals. Other species, it turns out, share abilities once considered exclusive to humans, including some emotions, tool use, counting, certain aspects of language and even a moral sense. …

Barbara J. King, an anthropologist at the College of William and Mary, said that she hoped researchers would begin to collect examples of cross-species interactions to build a database that would merit scientific scrutiny. ‘I think we’re not even at the point of being able to extract patterns because the database is so small,’ she said, adding that the topic could also benefit from a rigorous definition of what constitutes a ‘friendship’ between members of different species.” More here.

Photo: Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary by way of Africa Geographic.

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The happy faces say it all. The circus is good for Baghdad.

An article by Michael S. Schmidt and Zaid Thaker in today’s NY Times describes the scene. “There were not any tigers because the animals were stuck in Egypt. There were dogs, however, but they were not [the promised] poodles. And the big snake, well, the snake had become sick and had to be evacuated …

“A circus coming to town may be a routine event in most cities. But in battered Baghdad, even if it was not the Greatest Show on Earth, the arrival of the circus was yet another small step in this city’s efforts at building a more normal life. …

“There is not a commanding ringmaster. What it does have, though, are dancers jumping rope, a woman swinging from a trapeze (without a net, but with a harness), and a grand finale of a man clad in an Iraqi flag plunging swords down his throat.  …

“Faisil Falleh, 56, who took his family to the circus on a recent night, said, ‘I haven’t seen anything in my life like this.’  …

“Promoter Jasim Mohammed Saeed said,  ‘Nobody is working in this business in Iraq. It is just us.’ ” Read more here.

If you want to go, it’s $12 for adults, $6 for teens, and free for children. The cotton candy — “lady’s hair” in Arabic — is $1.

 

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Back in the day, I was a great fan of Mary Renault. I took her every word as gospel, down to the conversations Theseus had with Ariadne, because the stories generally meshed with what I knew from studying ancient Greek.

The Bull from the Sea was about the sea god Poseidon, who also is the god of earthquakes. I remember Renault’s description of the eerie stillness in the air before an earthquake and the strange behavior of the creatures.

So I am not at all surprised to read in the Washington Post that animals at the National Zoo knew before this week’s earthquake actually quaked that something was about to happen.

“The zoo documented a broad range of animal behavior before, during and after the tremor … . For example, a gorilla, Mandara, shrieked and grabbed her baby, Kibibi, racing to the top of a climbing structure just seconds before the ground began to shake dramatically. Two other apes — an orangutan, Kyle, and a gorilla, Kojo — already had dropped their food and skedaddled to higher turf. The 64 flamingos seemed to sense the tumult a number of seconds in advance as well, clustering together in a nervous huddle before the quake hit. One of the zoo’s elephants made a low-pitched noise as if to communicate with two other elephants. And red-ruffed lemurs emitted an alarm cry a full 15 minutes before the temblor, the zoo said.

“During the quake, the zoo grounds were filled with howls and cries. The snakes, normally inert in the middle of the day, writhed and slithered. Beavers stood on their hind legs and then jumped into a pond. Murphy the Komodo dragon ran for cover. Lions resting outside suddenly stood up and stared at their building as the walls shook. Damai, a Sumatran tiger, leaped as if startled but quickly settled down. Some animals remained agitated for the rest of the day, wouldn’t eat and didn’t go to sleep on their usual schedule.” Read the full story.

And while we’re on the subject, please read about 96 percent of a certain kind of male toad abandoning their breeding ground five days before the 2009 L’Aquila, Italy, earthquake! (That lead came via Andrew Sullivan’s blog.)

 

 

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