Category Archives: Animal altruism

A nice break from politics: Dog comforts tiny foster kitten

So sweet!

DCG

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Dog stands guard by his badly injured friend until help arrives

On the side of a busy road in Muscoy, southern California, were two homeless dogs: an injured female German Shepherd and a smaller red male dog patiently guarding his friend.

Hours passed as cars flew by until, finally, a driver stopped to help the two dogs.

Faith Easdale, a rescuer with Dream Fetchers: Project Rescue told The Dodo:  “We received a message she was lying on the side of the road. Marley [the German Shepherd] was in terrible distress and pain and breathing heavily. We weren’t even sure if she was going to make it.”

Marley’s protector, Murphy, refused to budge as Easdale and another rescuer lifted Marley into the car. Easdale said: “She was very heavy and hard to move, but we did it. Murphy wouldn’t leave her side on the street.”

Easdale rushed the dogs to the vet, where X-rays revealed Marley had a number of broken bones and was pregnant with 11 puppies. 

During those first few days, Murphy continued to wait by Marley’s side until, slowly, he realized that Marley was in good hands.

Easdale then set to work finding Murphy a good home.

Meanwhile, Marley gave birth to 11 healthy puppies. Even with two of her legs in casts, she was a loving, attentive mom.

It took two years, but with the help of her foster mom and a number of vets and carers, Marley has healed completely. Her new human family wrote on Facebook: “Marley is just as sweet and beautiful as the day we brought her home. She plays like she has never had a broken bone.”

To help other dogs like Marley and Murphy find loving homes, you can make a donation to Dream Fetchers: Project Rescue, here.

See also:

~Eowyn

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Animal altruism: African grey parrots give their food tokens to parrots who are without

Did you know that parrots love walnuts?

Katherine J. Wu reports for Smithsonian Magazine, Jan. 9, 2020, that animal behaviorists discovered that big-brained African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) shared walnuts with other parrots by giving their companions some of their “tokens” to “purchase” walnuts.

That behavior is called “prosocial helping (providing voluntary assistance for achieving an action-based goal)” which, until Brucks’ research, had been reported in a few mammals but no avian (bird) species. In research labs and wild habitats, animals have been observed gifting their friends with food, such as:

Two animal behaviorists — Désirée Brucks at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, and Auguste von Bayern at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany — wanted to test the limits of this generosity in two groups of parrots, long considered to be among the brainiest of birds.

The researchers trained eight African grey parrots and six blue-headed macaws to barter metal rings (tokens) for walnuts. The birds were paired with same-species partners, and put into clear chambers joined by a transfer hole. One bird (the “donor”) was given ten metal rings, while the other bird was left with none.

Even without the promise of a reward for themselves, seven out of eight of the African grey parrot donors used their beaks to pass some of their tokens (metal rings) through the transfer hole to the beaks of their “broke” partners. The recipients then traded the tokens for walnuts through another window.

Brucks said: “It was amazing to see. I thought that when they [the donors] saw they weren’t gaining anything, they’d stop. But they just kept doing it … some transferred [all] ten of their tokens.” Such acts of charity have long been thought to be restricted to primates like humans,  Few, if any, other mammals were thought capable of it, let alone a creature with a bird brain.

Christina Riehl, an expert in bird behavior at Princeton University who wasn’t involved in the research, observed that African grey parrots don’t just have the ability to comprehend metal rings as currency for food, they also “understand the consequences their actions can have on another individual. That’s pretty sophisticated reasoning.”

The parrots eventually swapped roles, giving recipients the chance to reciprocate by giving tokens to their donors. But none of the parrots began the experiment with this knowledge, which means that the generosity of the donors had not been prompted by the expectation of reciprocity.

The researchers then repeated the experiment, but this time the recipients of the tokens were blocked from exchanging their tokens for walnuts. The African grey donors took note and transferred far fewer tokens.

Jennifer Vonk, a cognitive psychologist at Oakland University who wasn’t involved in the study, said: “Anytime birds undergo a lot of training … behaviors like transferring tokens can become automatic. But these parrots could differentiate. They only transferred tokens when it was actually useful for [their partners],” which suggests the parrots aren’t just capable of sharing—they understand why they’re doing it.

But even the most charitable African greys didn’t transfer tokens willy-nilly. The stronger the social bond they shared with their partners—some of whom were biologically related to the donors—the more rings passed from chamber to chamber.

The second group of parrots in the experiment, the blue-headed macaws, however, weren’t as philanthropic, keeping almost 90% of their metal rings to themselves. And when they did transfer tokens, the acts were mostly passive: They simply dropped the currency onto the floor of their partner’s enclosures. Unlike the African greys, the macaws didn’t appear to have any spontaneous inclination to lend a helping wing.

Brucks and Bayern’s study is published as “Parrots Voluntarily Help Each Other to Obtain Food Rewards,” in Current Biology, 30:2, January 20, 2020.

Whether other birds, including the nearly 400 other parrot species around the globe, exhibit these generous behaviors remains to be seen. In a similar experiment, ravens, another exceptionally bright bird, don’t exhibit the same tendency to share. Neither do chimpanzees or gorillas.

Back to the African grey parrots.

Bird behaviorist Riehl says: “Birds are still often thought of as much less ‘advanced’ than mammals, especially primates. But they have a lot of regard for each other … and they can form these bonds with humans, too. It’s why they make such great pets.”

See also these other cases of animal altruism and heroism:

~Eowyn

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Hero cat saves toddler from plunging down stairs

On October 31, 2019, one-year-old toddler Samuel León was left unattended in his filthy room or home in Bogota, Colombia.

The household pet, a Siamese cat named Gatubela, watched little Samuel as he crawled on all fours out of his crib, across the floor, and toward the a steep flight of stairs.

When the toddler got to the edge of the top of the stairwell, Gatubela sprang into action.

Like a bolt of lightning, the cat sped across the room and put her body in front of little Samuel, blocking the toddler from going further.

Gatubela first tried to move Samuel away from the stairs by grabbing the back of his neck with her mouth, as she would with kittens. Then Gatubela pounced on Samuel and pushed him away from the stairwell.

All of this was captured in a security camera’s footage.

If Gatubela had not intervened, little Samuel would surely tumble down the stairs. This remarkable cat literally saved the toddler’s life.

I had a GIF made of Gatubela’s heroic action, in case YouTube takes down the video.

H/t PawMyGosh

See also:

~Eowyn

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Homeless dog used body warmth to keep orphaned kittens alive in snow

Stephen Messenger reports for The Dodo, Nov. 20, 2019, that on a freezing cold night in Ontario, Canada, a woman was driving when she saw a shivering homeless dog curled up on the snowy roadside.

The woman stopped the car and went to the dog.

That’s when she realized why the dog was exposed on the roadside instead of in a more sheltered place.

The dog had wrapped herself around five tiny orphaned kittens, using her body heat to keep the kittens warm in the biting cold.

The kind-hearted woman took the dog and the kittens to the Pet and Wildlife Rescue shelter, where the kittens were treated for flea and worm infestations.

A spokesperson at the shelter said that the dog had saved the kittens’ lives: “It’s truly heartwarming! It had been a very cold night so these kittens would have had a very hard time surviving. Our staff sees many difficult situations on a daily basis and stories like this one make every heartache worth it”

It’s unclear where the dog or kittens came from originally, or if they knew each other prior to that night. Pet and Wildlife Rescue is hoping an owner will come forward to claim them, but if not they’ll be put up for adoption.

Pet and Wildlife Rescue posted this message on Facebook on Nov. 22, 2019:

I have been getting A LOT of attention on social media, but let me fill you in just in case you don’t know my name and my story! My name is Serenity and I was found last week on the side of the road keeping 5 kittens warm. A good citizen called the shelter, a kind Animal Control Officer picked the 6 of us up and we’ve been living our best lives ever since! The kittens that I kept safe have been kindly taken in by a foster family and will be put up for adoption once they’re old enough to be on their own. My story has been shared worldwide as far as Nova Scotia, Australia and Texas🌎!

I’m surprised that so many people applied to adopt me when they don’t even know my personality or quirks yet – I must just be THAT cute! Let me tell you a little bit about myself so that the shelter can find the most suitable home for me. I’m obviously great with cats and would have no problem going to a home that has cats in it🐱. I’m estimated to be about 2 years old so I’m still young and have the energy of a toddler. I love zooming around outside and will run circles around any person or object that is out in the yard with me. The shelter staff has been working on it, but I can be quite jumpy and need to be taught some manners. At this time in my life I would do best in a home without small children that I can knock over – I wouldn’t want to accidentally hurt someone. I’ve gotten along with a couple of dogs at the shelter so far – both were extremely submissive or uninterested in interacting with me. Along with my dominance I am HUGE on playing and have a tendency to get right in other dog’s faces. I didn’t get along with the dominant or even slightly reactive shelter dogs. I do need help with my house training as it is not perfect right now.

The shelter staff is concerned about getting backlash for not adopting me out with the kittens that I was found with, but the kittens are not old enough to be on their own yet. If they waited for the kittens to be ready that would mean that I wouldn’t have my forever family for a couple of months. It is always the staff’s goal to get dogs out of the shelter environment and into their forever homes as soon as possible. At the end of the day I am just happy that the kittens were found with me and are now resting peacefully in a warm foster home instead of outside in the cold. Once they are old enough they will find homes of their very own! Once I’m spayed on December 3rd I will be all ready to go!

Apply to adopt me today: https://pawr.org/adoption-process-fees/
XOXO,
Serenity 🐾❤️

~Eowyn

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Male turkey acts as crossing guard to shield females from traffic

I came across this video of funny birds, but the video is remarkable because of the footage (0:52 to 1:20 mark) of a regal, male turkey protecting his family from motor traffic by acting as a crossing guard.

He stands in the middle of the road, using his body to block a row of three cars behind him, so that the other nine turkeys, one by one, could safely cross the road.

Only after the last turkey had crossed the road did the male leave his post.

This male turkey puts human males to shame….

~Eowyn

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Cat comforts mourners at funerals

Christina Jones and Stuart Hague of Wirral, England, have an 8-year-old cat named Paddy.

The couple didn’t know how special Paddy is until about three years ago when they thought he’d gone missing, only to find him comforting mourners in a funeral home nearby in Mayfield’s, a woodlands burial ground situated alongside the River Mersey in Wirral. Operated by the Co-operative Funeral Care home, Mayfield’s is set within eighteen acres of natural countryside where families can choose to bury or scatter the ashes of a loved one.

Paddy appears to be psychic because he can sense when there is a funeral and would venture over to help the mourners grieve. Staff at the funeral home insist the ginger cat has a “sixth sense” for knowing exactly when to show up.

Paddy has attended over 100 funerals to date. Among the mourners he had comforted is veterinary nurse Jan McKinnon, who met Paddy after she lost her only daughter to breast cancer and now considers Paddy a member of her family.

H/t PawMyGosh

~Eowyn

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Cat carries friend’s lifeless body to shelter

This will break your heart.

We are told that dogs, being pack animals, are very loyal. Cats, however, are solitary by nature.

We are also told that non-human creatures don’t have feelings like we humans have.

But a homeless cat in China demonstrated not only loyalty to its companion, but a depth of feeling rivaling — and perhaps surpassing — those of humans.

Tiffany Lo reports for the Daily Mail that on July 2, 2018, in the Songbei district of Harbin, northern China, a stray white-and-yellow cat was seen dragging the lifeless body of another cat by its mouth.

Clearly exhausted, the cat had to stop to gather strength as it struggled to lift up its companion’s body.

Onlookers can be heard in the video saying: “Its friend is dead. Look at the cat.”

The devoted cat eventually succeeded in sheltering the lifeless body of its companion under a car.

~Eowyn

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Good Samaritan homeless dog untethers pup tied up outside store

In the town of Novorossiysk, Russia, the owner of a pit bull puppy tethered the pup to a fence in front of the store so he could do some quick shopping inside.

But a homeless dog, who is well-known in the area to be very smart, always using the crosswalk to cross streets, was convinced the pup had been abandoned.

So he worked to set the pup free by using his teeth to untether the pup from the fence.

After untethering the pup, the homeless dog tried to lead the pup away by its leash.

Fortunately, Dmitriy Timchenko witnessed this and went inside the store to alert the pup’s owner.

Timchenko took this video:

The “Good Samaritan” stray dog seems to be in good health and able to take care of himself. But hopefully someone would adopt this smart, kind-hearted and well-meaning “creature without sin”.

H/t PawMyGosh

~Eowyn

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Rescue dog always leaves half of his food in bowl

PawMyGosh reports that a year ago, Joice Lamas and her husband adopted a dog named Otávio from a rescue group who took him in from an abusive household where many dogs were neglected.

Otávio was fearful of humans at first, but Joice was determined to change that. She told The Dodo: “From the first moment we saw him, we’ve never been apart.”

In the months after bringing Otávio home, the couple saw him blossom right before their eyes. He has learned to trust and cuddles instead of turn away in fear.

But a heartbreaking remnant from his past still remained.

Although dogs, unlike finicky cats, are known to eat any and everything, Otávio would only eat some of his food, always leaving half of the food in his bowl.

Joice suspects it’s because of Otávio’s past household where he and the other “many” dogs were abused and neglected. Otávio likely had to ration his meals or set aside some of the food for the other dogs.

Either way, it was heartbreaking.

Joice said: “It’s sad. I always tell him, ‘It’s OK if you eat everything.’”

Joice hopes that in time, Otávio will learn that he can leave that part of his past behind: “I know he will never be without anything in life — not food, not love. We try to make him as happy as possible.”

Joice said it’s one of the challenges of adopting a formerly abused dog: “They need patience and a lot of love, because they can take longer to adapt. But it is remarkable how love changes animals. A rescued animal is much sweeter, more grateful and affectionate than others. They’re simply incredible!”

See also “Animal altruism: Why homeless cat would only accept kibbles in a plastic bag,” because the cat was bringing food back to her kitten.

~Eowyn

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