Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When the Whales Stopped Talking

I read an article on whale communication in this month’s Smithsonian magazine and it links in my mind with yesterday’s trip with the grandson and some buddies to the local Safari Park.

The Safari Park is a fun way to spend a day and get to know some animals up close and personal, as they nudge their noses further and further into your car to get at the containers of feed, giving little ones the chance to pet a llama and check out goats and sundry other critters.

But the other part of the park – the zoo part – the part where animals are kept penned, gives me pause.

I have never liked zoos much.  The ethos of the Safari Park, where we are the ones contained and the animals run (somewhat more) free seems the right mix of interaction, as opposed to the formerly free-ranging animals now penned in for my amusement and edification.

I don’t know enough zoology to have an informed opinion.  Perhaps it’s just fine for animals to live in such confinement.

But the Smithsonian’s piece on Noc, who spoke human words as an adolescent and then, inexplicably stopped, is filled with pathos.  The experts speculate that he stopped simply because he was no longer an adolescent.  But maybe he stopped because all his efforts to convey something important had come to naught.  Maybe he simply ran out of the energy necessary to communicate with those who would not respond to his pleas.

Of course I anthropomorphize.  But when it comes to how we humans treat our fellow creatures, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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