Saturday, June 6, 2009

Putting a Wild (Tame) Hippo to Bed

Hippo Tamed by Human Love
"Around the world, many people rescue small creatures like hedgehogs and injured birds. But never before has this goodwill extended to one of the most dangerous animals on earth.
When a baby hippopotamus was washed up on the bank of a river on their farm, Elsa and Tony Joubert decided they couldn't leave her to her fate.
The 16kg youngster, who had been orphaned after floods had separated her from her mother, was at dire risk of being eaten by crocodiles or starving to death.
So Mrs Joubert, a primary school teacher, carried the helpless creature up to the couple's South African farm house and bottle fed her. ...
Hippos are one of Africa's most formidable creatures: they kill more people than lions, rhinos and crocodiles.
Yet despite the beast's ferocious reputation, the Jouberts have thrown caution to the wind and spent the past three years raising Jessica, the world's only tame hippo."
Jessica, who now weighs 600kg, spends her days grazing the front lawn of the Joubert's 400ha farm.
She is free to swim off and join the wild hippos who regularly pay her visits, but she remains faithful to the Joubert's. She sleeps on the couple's verandah on a mattress at night, and wakes up at 6am for her dog biscuits bowl of wheat bran and coffee.
She never leaves the Joubert's side - even turning a key in a locked door to get into the house, where she watches television with them at night.
And when Jessica fancies a swim in the river, Mrs Joubert accompanies her down to the bank and swims on Jessica's back, arms around her neck.
Mrs Joubarb, 49, says:"Jessica is an amazing creature. She never leaves our side and is so tame."
She's not dangerous at all. When I swim with her in the river, she's so gentle she lets me ride on her back and we swim together.
Jessica's best friends are the Joubert's three dogs, who fight for a share of the biscuits.
Mr Joubert, 54, says: "She plays in the garden with them, and they keep the birds from bothering her: every time one flies near her, the dogs snap it away with their jaws."
He says: "No one has ever tamed a hippo before."
"She is amazingly gentle. Our friend's eight-year-old daughter slipped in the water recently and Jessica swam over to her and nudged her back on to the bank."
"We never realised just how intelligent hippos are." .."
... from an article by Lucy Laing, in The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney, Australia) 10 April, 2005.
There are many more examples that capture the realities of animal's sentience and, beyond that, their capacities for intuitive and even reflective thought processes. One problem is that most of the vast collection of instances and experiences that speak for animal self-awareness exist outside institutionalised science. Even is something is true or real it is not accepted scientifically until it can be measured as a phenomenon and replicated experimentally. There's nothing terribly wrong with that principle, however the second problem with the recognition of self-awareness in animals is that grant-funded science does not support research into the subject. It's as if mainstream science has made up its mind about animal's lack of measurable consciousness and psychic powers. It is simply going to insist that animals are driven by instincts and evolutionary genetics, and leave it at that.

No comments: