We Aren’t Behaving Like Animals: Maybe We Should

Photo Source: Tomas Malik, @malcoo, via Unsplash.

Jenni Lorraine – For as long as I can remember, I’ve trusted the altruistic spirits of animals over the posturing of so-called knowledgeable humans.

I’ve never checked an almanac to see when winter’s snow would melt. Instead, I’ve kept an eye on the waking stretches of the brown bears. Without fail, their come-alive-yawns have always signaled correctly toward uncovered ground in less than two weeks.

It is a scientific anomaly that all our greatest technology cannot predict an earthquake with 100% certainty, but toads can. Hibernating toads claw their way out of the dirt and head for higher ground in the hours before a tectonic shift.

But it’s not just in knowing nature that animals exceed humanity.

A recent study of prairie voles indicated that stronger, less flappable voles organize to calm their distressed friends after particularly horrifying events, such as run-ins with predators, storms, or disruptions of habitat.

Elephants mourn their dead as a group, working together to bury their deceased, and even re-visiting grave sites for years after their loved one is gone, hence the old saying that an elephant never forgets. They will also care for one another’s young in the event of parental death, even at times taking in calves from other herds if a lactating mother is otherwise hard to come by.

This kindness crosses species also.

Badgers and coyotes often work together to secure food. Coyotes have been known to run small prey into badger burrows to trap them. Inside, the waiting badger makes the kill- then brings part of the meal up for the coyote to share.

And who could ever forget Binti Jua? In 1988, the Western Lowland Gorilla stood guard over a three-year-old human boy after he fell into her enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. She moved her own baby to her back so she could cradle the human child in her arms until zoo staff arrived to retrieve him. In doing so, she protected him from her own family members, risking exile.

Perhaps she understood that true kindness is the only liberating feeling on earth.

Human beings like to pretend that animals take their cues from us. In truth, we could stand to take a few more from them.

I’m certain Binta Jua’s family did not see themselves as a threat to anyone, but Binta recognized something in them that told her to grab that little boy and not let go.

All the same, there are few of us, I’m certain, who would consider ourselves cruel or threatening to those around us. All the while, we observe and cheer on political grandstanding, tabloid humiliation, obscene gestures of grandiose wealth, and more as those around us struggle.

It’s easy to cheer on a joyride to the moon as an advancement of humanity if you ignore the fact that, on average, over 13,000 people starve to death in the United States each year.

I believe if, given the chance, a coyote would still believe it better to share a meal and howl at the moon from a distance.

Similarly, it’s easy to poke fun at the deteriorating public image of a pop star you once envied if you don’t acknowledge that her children are watching you push her closer to the brink. Don’t you think they wonder who will stand with them throughout a lifetime of never forgetting?

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Perhaps if we, too, quieted all the things we thought we knew and instead listened to the humming of our spirits, we would find that not only could we predict an earthquake, but we could also create one.

And maybe, in doing that, we could shake ourselves awake, stretch, yawn, smile.

And thaw out this world.


Jenni Lorraine is a published novelist, Indie publishing coach, and animal enthusiast. You can learn more about her at www.jennilorraine.com.


Photo Source: Tomas Malik, @malcoo, via Unsplash.