Animals are amazing, and these true stories prove they are not so dumb as some people make out
The Caring Crane
A crane, having caught an especially large fish in one of Florida’s lakes, carried it out of the water. He gracefully walked up the bank away from the lake, and settled himself some forty feet from the edge. Cranes, like many other birds, do not chew their food, they simply swallow it whole. But the crane’s eyes had been too big for its swallow so to speak. Try as it might, the fish was too big, and it couldn’t swallow it So after several unsuccessful attempts, it dropped the fish and walked away.
After walking some sixty feet from its catch however, it stopped, looked back, and then returned to the fish. Receiving a quick peck the fish tried to flop away. The crane, on seeing it was still alive, picked it up in its bill, and carried it all the way back to the lake. It dropped it into the shallows, and then pushed it out into the deeper water-to safety!
It would be difficult to call that crane a “dumb animal” in the sense of it being unintelligent. One could hardly call its action instinct either. Rather, it is the sort of action one would associate with an intelligent human.
In recent years, scientists have begun to believe that wherever there is life, there is some sort of intelligence. The more we study animals the more one is convinced that this is true.
Ants Raise Mushrooms and have Chemical Warfare
Did you know, for instance, that ants can do many of the things that men can do? They raise mushrooms, have slaves to wait on them, have a form of chemical warfare, weave, keep small flies-aphids which they milk like cows, and they work as we do, probably harder. Unlike the action of the crane how-ever, this can all be called instinct.
Instinct, you see, is something an animal or man does without having to think about it. For instance, animals, without having to he taught, know which food is good for them that is instinct. Ants, since the dawn of time, have been doing just as they do today. Intelligence, however, is the ability to solve an unusual problem that is uncommon to the particular animal.
In the province of Ontario, Canada, there is a large game reserve called Algonquin Park. Within the boundaries of the park it is not permitted to kill animals. In Canada the deer hunting sea son begins in late autumn. For some years, it has been noticed that every November, large numbers of deer move into the protection of Algonquin Park. How do you suppose the deer knew where they were safe?
The Digger Wasp Innovator
A famous zoologist tells how a digger wasp amazed him with its intelligence. He had been walking by a small river, when he noticed the wasp. It had stung and paralysed an enormous spider. Digger wasps bury such food with their eggs, so that when they hatch, the grubs will have food to eat. The wasp was trying very hard to drag the spider back to its burrow. The load was too heavy to fly with, and as there were so many barriers even dragging was impossible. The wasp wasn’t beaten however. Deciding on a new course of action he managed to pull the spider down to the river. Here, taking a firm hold, the wasp floated its kill out onto the stream. With wings buzzing at top speed, it slowly manoeuvred its strange craft seventy yards down the stream. Then, pulling the spider ashore, it dragged it the remaining few inches to its burrow.
Instinct or intelligence? To the zoologist it was an unforgettable experience. Even insects “have their Columbuses and Galileos,” he said.
Bravery in humans is regarded as one of the most noble things a man or woman can accomplish. Our history books are full of the brave deeds that people have done to make our present life possible. Yet our history books seldom tell us that nature has heroes too!
The Heroic Wolf
Mr. Lyman Jackes was out with the ranger of a large national park in America, when they noticed a number of deer frantically running. Climbing a small hill they saw the reason. Across a nearby swamp, eleven wolves were carefully making their way over the treacherous footing. As part of the ranger’s work was to keep the wolf population down to a suitable number, he took careful aim with his rifle, and fired the only five bullets he had with him. One by one, five wolves fell as he shot, the others retracing their steps as fast as possible. Both men picked up a stout piece of wood to act as a club, and began to descend the hill to examine their kill. As they did so, however, a large she wolf, somehow sensing that they were out of ammunition, came toward them snarling and showing her fangs. At twenty feet from them she stopped, but continued her menacing snarls. Mr. Jackes and the ranger raised their clubs and tried to advance, but the wolf held her ground as much as she dared, effectively barring their way to the swamp.
For half an hour the she wolf stood her ground against them, and then suddenly, without warning, turned and ran as quickly as possible across the floating islands of the swamp. After the delay, search as they might, the two men could find no other trace of the shot wolves than here and there a few spots of blood.
Was that instinct, to so quickly realise that given time the wounded wolves could drag themselves away and hide? If it had been a human, it would have been called “quick thinking,” and an “act of bravery and intelligence.” I for one am sure it was with the she wolf, too.