Look at this video.
(by way of browsing related videos after learning that robot chickens wear spats and monocles. http://plish.livejournal.com/230796.html ).
I want to say something about this, because not too long ago I posted a link to that story about the turtle mothering a hippo. I just don’t know what to say. I have a reaction against all the comments that say “oh, that’s so cute! How wonderful! We humans should learn from this and be friends!” Am I cynical? Do I muse about what’ll happen when the kitten discovers it can kill another bird? Do I wonder about how animals see mother figures? I once saw a documentary on a study where they tried to determine what made baby chicks of some tropical bird species imprint on their mother. They tried puppets of different shapes that dispensed food, and nailed it down to a special yellow dot on the bottom beak: if there was a puppet with that dot, the chicks would remember it and respond to it, even if it wasn’t really shaped like a bird. What does that bond mean? Does a fawn feel sadness if her mother deer is run over by a car? What are feelings, anyway? Attachment happens in nature so that mothers don’t eat their children when they get hungry, and young ones will stay near older ones who will protect them, and penguin moms can go eat for a few months and the eggs will still hatch. This is what emotions are for. Preservation of the species.
This reminds me of that articles on elephant memory that we were all so shocked by. There were two. Elanor reminds me that one was about how they played recordings of elephants that had died years ago to a herd and the elephants displayed signs of sadness. I haven’t found it yet.
Anyway, I found the other. It was on psychology/post-traumatic stress disorder in humans and elephants/africa/rehabilitation/sadness/violence: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/magazine/08elephant.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin
It also has a brief description of elephant gravesite rituals.
You know what? The thing I remembered the most from this article was the part where they communicate using “patterns of subsonic vibrations that are felt as far as several miles away by exquisitely tuned sensors in the padding of their feet.” I had almost forgotten the species-wide trauma argument.
I don’t know what it is that I am feeling right now. I think it is despair.
Maybe you need a special yellow dot to peck?