By Tanis Helliwell
Science is discovering that animals have a wide range of feelings and intelligences. Some of these are quite similar to human and some are very different. Jane Goodall, well known for her work with chimpanzees, says that chimpanzees differ genetically from humans by only about 1%. They feel pain, share the emotions of humans and have sophisticated intellectual abilities. They feel loyalty, love, shame, anger, and hurt. During the last few decades both chimps and gorillas have been taught sign language and through this common medium of communication it has been proven how smart they are. They ‘talk’ to themselves even when others are not around-just like people-and tell stories about themselves and others. Chimps even recognize people whom they have not seen for a decade and recall the experiences which we they had shared together. Sometimes I even have problems doing this.
And it’s not just the great apes who resemble humans in their range of emotions and intelligence. Humpback whales have an oral tradition of story telling and repeat their unique and complicated song from one year to the next with slight, but clearly discernible differences. Dolphins, we also know are highly intelligent. Not only do they learn tricks that there trainers ask them for, but also they love to create their own games and tricks to show their trainers. They do this purely for the joy of creation and not for reward.
It’s not only animals that have sophisticated intelligences. We are only know starting to understand the how smart birds are. Many make tools, carry on lifetime relationships and communicate their desires, feelings, love to humans and members of their own species. I strongly recommend Richard Attenborough’s BBC 8 part series on birds. It will astound you. Even insects have intelligence. Bees, for example, can communicate to their companions the direction, distance and desirability of flowers that are far away.
Strange though it might seem animals are also known to protect other animals and not only those of their own species. One such example was witnessed in Kenya. A black rhinoceros baby got stuck in mud at a salt lick and was unable to get out. The more it struggled the deeper it sunk. The rhino mother could not understand the problem and went on browsing in the distance. An adult elephant observing the difficulty went over to the calf, put its tusks under the calf and began to lift it out. The mother rhino witnessing this charged back to the scene and the elephant withdrew. After some time the mother rhino left and returned to eating. The elephant returned to the calf and tried to lift it again. The mother charged back enraged. This scenario went on for several hours and the elephant finally gave up and left having done what it could to help the baby. Fortunately the mud dried by the next morning so that the baby could get out by itself.
Elephants are very intelligent. Their brains, as well as dolphins brains, are larger per body weight than ours. They are capable of solving complex problems. It’s well known by hunters in Africa that if they do not vary their routine when and where they hunt that elephants will learn the pattern and disappear. Even more incredible is that elephants know when hunters are after the bulls for ivory and the females and adolescents will surround the bulls to protect them. This is counter to the bulls usually protecting the family group.
Friendships, although not usual, have been observed to occur between animals of different species in the wild. Chimps have been seen to befriend baboons and a lemur actually became the dominant animal in a different species altogether. One of the most fascinating stories took place in the Serengeti in Africa. There wild dogs and hyenas are competitors for food and a young hyena was seen approaching the dominant male dog of a pack after the hyenas stole the pack’s food. Although it was extremely dangerous and the hyena had nothing to gain by doing so it started to lick and groom the sleeping dog almost as if it were trying to make it feel better. Even more surprising is that the dog allowed this to happen for some time before objecting. Even then the young hyena was allowed to leave the pack unhurt.
Animals are also known to experience grief and may refuse to mate with another animal if their mate dies. Furthermore, animals may die of grief if they lose their loved ones. This has been found among the apes and other species. Mother elephants, for example, will often carry their dead babies for days and the rest of the family group will wait for her and mourn with her.
I don’t wish to create the impression that all animals are noble, more noble than us. Animals engage in the same kind of negative aspects that we find in humans. Apes often rape other members of their group and dolphins will do the same. A lioness will often eat her cub if her other cubs have been killed. This might be more efficient for her as she can re-mate and raise an entire litter in the same time as it takes to raise one cub. Animals, like humans, war with each other. Dwarf mongoose will battle other groups for territory and orangutans have been seen to kill other members. Young hyenas, foxes and owls have been seen to kill and eat their siblings as well.
One of the more exciting areas of discovery that humans face this next hundred years will be to learn that we share the Earth with many, many sentient races. These are the animals, birds, and creatures of the sea. We have already started along this path of discovery and before long we will have reached the place where we can no longer think of animals as only pork sausage and beefsteaks. Once we see these beings as our fellow brothers and sisters we will begin to realize our responsibility as humans to be guardians of this planet and of these other races. A wonderful journey of discovery and co-creation awaits us.
For further reading on the emotional life of animals you might enjoy reading When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy. Also recommended on the life in Kenya are The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley and West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Tanis Helliwell is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which since January 2000 has offered programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world. Tanis, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions.
Tanis is the author of Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Decoding Your Destiny and Take Your Soul to Work.
For information on courses and services please visit www. iitransform.com