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The Financial Express

A CLOSE LOOK

Treating animals well because their lives are precious too

| Updated: September 24, 2021 23:58:16


Treating animals well because  their lives are precious too

Many people are habituated to calling names. In many cases, they refer supposedly to an inferior species when doing so. Even irate teachers and parents call a student or a child failing to answer or do what is expected of him/her names like 'cow' or 'pig' or 'chick'. The idea is such farmed animals are dumb, blunt and unintelligent. It's time they thought twice before making such slurry comments.
A recent research study carried out by researchers from New Zealand and Germany's Federal Research Institute for Animal Health and Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology has proved that cows trained on toilet use can learn the practice faster than children. By applying principles of behavioral psychology the researchers were able to train the young cattle to not only use those when the animals were confined to an alley leading to the closed pen used as a toilet but also attend to their urinal reflex and become aware of proper timing.
This was proved by the fact that they developed the habit of moving to the pen on their own when they were ready to use it. Also they learnt to withhold the call of nature until they reached the pen. Every time they used the toilet, they were rewarded with choice morsels.
What is revealing is that 'the majority of calves learned the full set of skills within 20-25 urinations'. This certainly is faster than the toilet-training time for three- and four-year-old children. Would anyone feel prompted to scold another of his species by the name of what has so long been known of a lower order?
Cognition tests come up with amazing results in case of jays or raven, the avian family of crows. In the child primer, there was a story of a thirsty raven which came across a pitcher with some water at the bottom. The bird could neither shake the pitcher nor reach its beak down to the water. So it made good use of logic and started putting stones one after another until the water level rose within its reach. Thus did the raven quench its thirst.
There is no reason to think that it is just the result of a fertile brain. Nicky Clayton, professor of comparative cognition at the University of Cambridge, pitted jays against kids in a test requiring reasoning of cause and effects. In the experiment, a treat or toy was left afloat in a narrow tube, below which beaks or narrow fingers could reach. The jays quickly realized that dropping pebbles into the tube would raise water level to bring food into their reach. But children younger than eight years old were at a loss to figure it out and reach out to the toys.
A short clip of a baby elephant on the internet has become viral for its intelligence and discretion. The nine-month-old elephant pumps a tube well when she finds no other source of water for drinking. She pumps exactly as much water as she could drink and left. When people are found wasting water, the baby elephant showed how highly she valued the precious water.
Cats, dogs and pigs are among the fastest learners too. It is not unusual to find cats and dogs which can unlock doors to get out or open a refrigerator to steal foods. But where dogs and at times cats too excel is responding fast to save their masters or members of the family they live with. In several cases, dogs have saved young ones when rooms or houses accidentally caught fire. It is this protective instinct and emotional attachment that make dogs and even horses somewhat different from other pets.
So far as pigs are concerned, they seem to be very dirty and dumb animals but they are not. Researchers have presented cases where they found how a pig was able to read the signs of another pig which knew the source of food. When the first pig followed the second, the latter was also aware that he was being followed. So the pig with the knowledge of food took him to a place where there was no food. It just misled the former because it was smart enough not to share food with the other.
Other animals are also smart enough and some of them have their languages too. Humans may have extraordinary capacity to invent and discover things, which animals are incapable of because they have no academic learning and all-purpose organs like the two hands. But they are also sensitive and get emotionally moved depending on circumstances. Certainly their lives are as precious as that of humans.

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