The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Animals Befriending Animals: An Expanded View of Consciousness

Awww, they are so cute.  In studying the reach of consciousness, I don’t think anything demonstrates it quite so emphatically as when animals of different species befriend each other.  When I first looked into this I was amazed at the variety and even now, I think it’s just staggering.  You really have to see the pictures at the linked sites to get the full effect.  Here we go:

At the site digyourowngrave, there is the following list:

Squirrel and dog, Hippo and tortoise. Kitten and hen, Chihuahua and chick,

Dog and ducklings, Tiger and piglets, Cat and crow, Retriever and Koi (Japanese fish)

Snake and hamster, Doe and rabbit, Elephant and dog, Pitt bull and chicks

Boxer and baby goat, Dog and piglet,  A lion, a tiger and a bear

A cat and a dog (the dog was blind and the cat stayed by her until her death and acted as her eyes.)

An Orangutan and a dog,

At the blog Let’s be friends

A frog rescues a mouse from high water, A pony and a cat, A lamb and a dog

A deer and a dog, A monkey and a cat, a cat and a turtle

a cat and a rabbit, a bird and a mouse, a hedgehog and a squirrel

On yet another siteNSFW: Ads with nudity

cat with mouse, tiger and dog, giraffe and ostrich

chimp and baby white tiger, dog and cheetah, cat and parakeet

Full grown pig and tiger,

And yet another site:

Dog and owl, Monkey and rabbit

And on National Geographic:  A lioness and a baby onyx antelope (sad ending)

It was amazingly easy to get a large collection of these in a very short time.  It turns out that people have been documenting animal friendships for awhile and they are popular on the internet.  So let’s talk about what this means.  Consciousness in animals can be hard to pin down under scientific conditions, but you can draw conclusions from the pictures, video and stories that are presented here.  There can really be no discussion about whether animals are conscious or not when they demonstrate the capacity for friendship.  Friendship requires consciousness.  There is no genetic code that has giraffes hanging out with ostriches or a tiger sleeping with a full grown pig, let alone a hippo and tortoise.  These are animals that independently made these choices, and making choices is also a sign of consciousness.

One conclusion we can draw from this is that all animals are conscious and are capable of feelings, and that includes reptiles, amphibians and birds and even fish. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise.  You can see here how powerfully all the images in the websites convey this.  If all these wildly different animals have feelings, and they clearly do, then how about bugs?  We know that they are conscious,(The Strangeness of Bug Consciousness)  so is it possible that they make friends too?  It’s an interesting question for which I do not have an answer.  But judging from the data, the answer is possibly yes.

Another conclusion that we can take away from this is that consciousness must be similar enough in all of these animals for them to relate to each other.  If consciousness were evolutionary, I think we could expect to see vast differences in animal consciousness from the different evolutionary trees, but that’s clearly not the case.  It would seem that just about any species can get along with another, even predators and prey can become friendly.  That is a truly remarkable thing because that is a case of consciousness overriding instinct in what are supposed to be a dumb animals; it is the kind of choice animals are not supposed to be able to make.  It almost seems human.

Why?  I think it is because the sameness of consciousness throughout all these different species can only mean that our consciousness is the same as theirs.  What is not on this list is all the different animals that humans have befriended.  As I think that pretty much any person could come up with a couple dozen examples off the top of their head, I don’t think that it is a necessary thing to try to prove.  In terms of consciousness, we are not as super special as we think we are.  It’s not that we’re not at the top of the consciousness pyramid, because I think we are.  It’s just that all the other animals aren’t as far down the pyramid as we would like to believe.

Having seen all these pictures, I have an increasing respect for the living creatures around me.  Not that I was lacking in that department, but seeing all these different examples brought this feeling to a new level.

2 comments on “Animals Befriending Animals: An Expanded View of Consciousness

  1. donsalmon
    September 8, 2011

    Hi Craig:

    Wonderful post. Perhaps I missed it, but you didn’t have any postings of Alex, the African Gray parrot. I don’t have time to go into detail here, but a few quick tidbits. He was raised by Dr Irene Pepperberg, who bought him in a Chicago pet shop. He developed a vocabulary of over 100 words, and was assessed (by some, except the skeptics, of course) as having the cognitive abilities of a 5 year old child. You could set out an array of objects in front of him, – different colors, shapes and textures – and say, “Alex, which one is red, circular and made of wood” and he could pick it the correct one.

    Irene would sometimes get irritated at him and start complaining, and he would say, “Calm down!” to which she would reply, “Don’t tell me to calm down!”.

    One time she had to take him to the vet and leave him over night for a throat problem. he misunderstood, thinking she was leaving him there for good, because he had done something wrong. He cried out to her as she left, “I’m sorry, I wanna go home, I love you”.

    Another time she had a meeting with some corporate sponsors. She wanted to demonstrate his “reading” ability. She had an array of those different colored magnetic letters that people put on their refrigerators. She said to Alex, “Alex, what does green sound like?” – pointing to a green letter “S”. Alex said, “Sssssss”. Normally, when she did this with him, he would get a nut to eat as a reward, so of course, he said, “Wanna nut!”

    Since parrots generally take a long time to eat a nut, she didn’t want to take up the business sponsors’ time, so she said, “just wait a minute Alex. Now, what does blue sound like (showing him a blue t)? “t, t, t” he said, folowing it up, of course, with “Wanna nut!” a little louder, and a little more insistent.

    “wait a minute”, Irene said. Well this continued, with Alex getting more and more irritated, walking side to side impatiently, his beak waving up and down, until finally, he goes:

    ‘Nnnnn- uuuuuu -ttttt” WANNA NUT!! ” like he’s saying, “what are you stupid? Do I have to spell it out for you?”

    The funny thing is, Irene didn’t even know he knew how to spell the word!

    I think it was last year that Alex died. Irene received an outpouring of tens of thousands of letters from people all over the world who loved Alex.

    His last words, as irene was putting him in his cage at the end of the day, were, “You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you.”

    • craigweiler
      September 8, 2011

      I did know about the parrot, but not the whole story, so thank you. I was considering putting something in about animal intelligence, but decided to limit the scope of what I was talking about. It was an editing decision.

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This entry was posted on September 8, 2011 by in Consciousness, parapsychology and tagged , , , .
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