Saturday, June 11, 2011

Orangutan rescues drowning bird chick

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Here’s another video to make you question our understanding of animals’ capacity for experiencing emotions. Was this great rusty-furred ape merely curious about that fidgeting little birdie in the water and wanted a closer look, or did (s)he rescue it out of genuine compassion? (Or perhaps even both?) Either way, as PZ Myers notes, it’s amazing that an orangutan can exhibit either. (Skip ahead to the 0:50 mark to avoid the obligatory ape-tastes-noseberries intro, if that’s not your thing.)

My transcript:

[Click the [+/-] to expand …] []

A little bird chick is floating in a pond surrounded by steep rocky banks, apparently unable to get out. Nearby, an orangutan lazily tastes his/her own snot, even licking at (something?) on the rocks. Orangutan moves around on the rocky bank and peers at the little chick stranded in the water. Orangutan offers a leaf to the chick, nudging the baby bird around. The chick swims around a bit but cannot get out of water due to steep rocky banks. The orangutan pushes the chick with a leaf to the side of the rocky bank, perhaps trying to get the chick to climb out. Chick stays there immobile, and the orangutan stares for a few moments. Ape offers the leaf again; chick appears to nip at it. Then, orangutan grabs the chick by the neck and lifts it out of the water, depositing it on the grass. The ape then lays down and gently nudges and prods the little bird, which moves around feebly. The orangutan picks it up a few times by the head, examining it.

It’s noted that the chick was later examined by zoo vets and declared to be in good health.

(via Pharyngula)