Monday, April 25, 2011
of orca whales and easter eggs
Its been a good Easter. Happy Easter!! to all my readers, I'm so excited to have 50 followers, it amazing to know that, this many people actually visit my blog and are interested in my wild horses.
Although Easter wasn't particularly beautiful weather in my neck of woods, being autum down here and all,it was spent in great company, with close family friends visiting the farm, for what turned into an all day brunch. The wild stallion, paddocked next to the drive, welcomed everyone onto the property by coming to the fence to say hi, and making himself available to any who might have wanted to pat and scratch him. these holidays are really about family, Friends, and catching up to those people who play important parts in your life. I even helped a good friend and neighbor set up his own blog, so he to can contribute to the world of blogging, check out his blog to http://almostcertifiable.blogspot.com/
But on this holiday, it was the animals that got me thinking. Holidays like Christmas,Easter thanksgiving,Valentine's day, they are about family, friends,love, kindness and sharing. Those things that make us human, but these are not solely human characteristics. Compassion, sharing, love, kindness and companionship are all throughout the animal world. Not restricted to humans and a handful of domestic species. All social animals, seek out companionship, whether in a herd, flock, pack, or maybe just staying with a mate. Most mammals and many other species choose not to be alone. You only have to watch mother animals, or own a pet to know that animals feel love. we see remarkable stories on TV about wild animals, seeking out companionship with people, and think 'wow how extraordinary But are these the exceptions, or are they just the normal behavior of animals in extraordinary situations?
Long after everyone went home yesterday, i was blobbing, scrolling channels on the tv, when i happened to come across the story of Luna, the lonely lost Orca, of Nookta Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. Luna ended up orphaned in Nookta Sound without his pod, at only two years of age, he survived for a further four years, before finally being hit by a tugboat propeller and dying. In those four years he sought companionship, coming to visit recreational boat users, seeking socialization and interaction, even playing fetch with pieces of bark, with one of the researchers. Long story short, no one could agree, lots of government bureacracy and indescision, on what to do with Luna, so he was left unprotected. Some researchers desperate to help the little whale,filmed their experiences with him, and tried to protect the aniamal that so desperately didn't want to be alone. Tragically it was while the filmmaker was having his boat fixed and was not there to keep Luna from danger, that the whale was killed. The movie 'Saving Luna' is defiantly recommended to watch, or visit http://www.reuniteluna.com/ for more imformation
Ok so while this is an extreme case, day to day things like this happen all the time. Orca are extremely social animals and form tight bonds, usually staying within their family group their whole lives. I think no social animal wants to be alone, without their own kind they seek companionship in any form they can. Is a lonely whale choosing to hang out with people, any different really, from humans choosing to take cats and dogs into their homes and families as companionship?
Certainly no herd animals, or humans for that matter are completely happy alone. You see this all the time on the farm. We got given two sheep a few months ago, unfortunately one got in the garden and ate all the rhubarb and died, leaving one sheep alone. Not really thinking of the sheep i put the Shetland pony in its paddock, really just to restrict the ponies diet than anything else. Well a week or two later, i moved the pony to keep another horse company, the next morning the sheep was missing, i searched and searched, no sheep, it didn't answer to its call for food, it was gone.
well it turns out i had overlooked it hiding at the back of a old dog kennel in it paddock, thinking it would come out eventually i left it, three days later the sheep had not left the dog house, not to eat or drink, it just sat in their. by this time i figured it was either sick or stuck. In i crawled, dragged the now very skinny sheep out and examined it. It wasn't sick, and it definitely wasn't stuck, as the second i let it go, it was straight back into the dog house. For the rest of the day it stayed there. in the evening i despaired and put the pony back in the pen. The sheep was out like a flash, straight over to the pony, and promptly started making up lost time on the eating front. The sheep and the pony have been inseparable ever since, the pony not as keen on the sheep, more tolerating than seeking friendship, the sheep though is completely dedicated to the pony. never out of site, it calls out , and will return to the dog house if the pony is taken away, anywhere i lead the pony the sheep follows....
The last of this years calves, now two large weaners are no different, if paddocked with horses, they will hang out with the horses. For weeks they hung with the stallion following him endlessly around the paddock, he at the time was alone, so the wild stallion adopted the cows, and guarded and watched them just as he would his own group of mares, although thankfully he did not try to breed with them.
Even our two wild ducks, that we raised this year, and are definatly not very domesticated at all, every night fly into sleep amongst the geese rather than be alone, no matter that the geese mostly pick on them, mean friends are apparently better than no friends in the big wide world.
The wild stallion and his paddock mate, always choose to come follow you around the paddock, or graze nearby if your working in their, its not as simple as saying they just want food or scratches. As they are never fed in the paddock, and they know this, sometimes they don't even seem to want attention, just would rather have company than be alone.
Our cat is constantly pestering any animal for attention, human, dog, or horse. Many mornings i find her in the barn walking along the stable, rubbing cheek to cheek with Matai, or arching back against the horses legs during the day as i work. In fact much to my dismay, she spends her days in the dirt between the horses legs snoozing in the sun, rather than walking to the house and her cat bed, which she only uses when her humans are in the house.
i could go on and on, there are so many examples. You could argue away all these behaviours as anomalies or survival instincts or any other number of reasons. Yes pack,herd behaviour may to begin with, started as a survial stratergy, but we have evolved a huge range of emotions and needs over millions of years to go with this staergy, that makes up the creatures of todays planet. But basically, i think, when it comes down to it, we may all speak a slightly different language, but humans and animals, we are not so different, we all want the same things really, food,water, shelter and companionship. Sometimes any Friend, is better than none at all...
Happy Easter Everyone, remember all your great friends and family out there...