You read about it, watch it on TV, YouTube or on your phone, iPad like me, animals using tools. You smile thinking well of course, animals are intelligent. How else do you think they’ve been around for so many hundreds of thousands of millions of years. That is until you see it for yourself in real life and you’re blown away. Then shame creeps in that you thought being a human you’re superior being conditioned to think we are or as humans automatically think like that.
A few weeks ago at Barcelona Zoo, I was watching the orangutans getting ready for their night quarters when 2 cheeky orangutan teenagers decided last minute to play outside. As soon as one had made it outside the gate began to lower. He/she turned around to gingerly place its hand underneath the door slowly coming down. The one who was about to follow did the same. The one outside hesitated and missed their chance to duck under the door, Indiana Jones style.
Knowing one was locked out, the keeper then opened another door, for another stuck it’s head from around that door to say, this way before disappearing back inside. The cheeky one was having none of it, preferring to explore and sniff for a few moments.
Their friend inside was concerned and kept peering out through window from different vantage points. It was like they’re were coming up with a solution to get back in.
Then the cheeky one blew my mind. She started to knock on the door with back of her hand (I’m going with she now, as I’m sure the 2 teenagers are girls).
Then she really blew my mind, by picking up a rock and using it knocking at the door.
By this point I’m grinning like cheshire cat in amazement and awe. I’d just witness tool use! Shortly followed by the wave of shame of thinking they can’t use tools.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see how they got back in, though somehow I get the feeling that it’s not the first time it’s happened with either one. Thinking later, it shouldn’t have surprised me. One of the older ladies maybe its mum, loves to wedge a stick in-between the window pane and window sill while with another stick, jimmy out the wedged stick and then starts play all over again. Plus I’ve seen it on tv and read about how animals use tools.
And big Daddy likes to pick and chew his nails clean.
Are you always surprised and in awe by animal intelligence?