I watched a most interesting programme on Animal Planet yesterday. It was about animal species adopting members of other species as observed in various animal rescue stations around the world.
Some of the stations are salvaging wounded or abandoned animals who have been raised in captivity and will never have the learned skills and survival capacity to be introduced into the wild to join others of their own kind. Other stations and programmes are assisting completely wild animals prepare themselves to re-enter the wild after being injured, or else abandoned and discovered so early in their lives that they can still be trained to retain their wildness and go back to their own territories.
What is being learned about the responses between species when the need for survival no longer trumps all other social interactions is quite fascinating.
Dogs are one of the main sources of teaching social interactions to most of the animals being kept in the rescue stations, because, as one of the animal scientists put it, "Dogs are everybody's friends!" haha Watching dogs adopt, play with, feed and protect small hyenas, monkeys and lion/tiger cubs was fascinating. Dogs provide the means to assist the human rescuers to gradually withdraw their presence from wild animals they are trying to reintroduce to their own species before being released to fend for themselves.
Some of the most amazing "friendships" were presented on the programme. My favourites were a large *orangutan who has bonded with a dog buddy and a goat who has turned himself into the caregiver for a blind horse and leads him around the property so that the horse doesn't bump into things or get lost or lose track of his food. In many cases, bonding and imprinting is happening between species that, in their natural habitat, would be enemies because they must vie for common and ever decreasing food sources. When there is no need to fight for survival there are social changes that can occur between the species.
The purpose of the programme was to listen to various animal behaviouralists and breeders and rescuers discuss their findings about animal emotions and emotional responses. There is just so much we don't know, but rescue stations like the ones on the programme are helping scientists to realize that there are differences between hardwired behaviour, instinctual behaviour and now the possibility that in some way animals are actually making moral choices to care for other animals in need.
Their findings thus far certainly support my husband's and my agreement with the idea that biblical pictures of "the lion and lamb will lie down together" in the descriptions of life after the return of Christ, are not simply metaphors but may be actual realistic descriptions.
If there is no more daily struggle for survival, no need for competition between species, no need for human interference among other members of the animal kingdom....in other words the removal of the conditions we took on once sin entered the world.....would we not all be free to be who God originally intended us to be?
Would not the higher purposes of creation in all its forms become evident? Would not each creature regain its rightful place in the creation?
What I saw on tv yesterday brought home to me a more realistic concept of life when heaven and earth are once again in harmony with each other, when the Creator is again in the head of creation; Creator and creatures at peace.
My concept of life after Christ's return has always been a bit foggy. What I saw yesterday has given me new hope of the realities of that time. Certainly it has given me something to think about.
*the aforementioned orangutan seems to have imprinted to some extent with its keeper. It actually goes swimming in the keeper's home swimming pool!! Orangutans are not swimmers, but you should see this fellow travel under the water!!! He also bottle feeds some of the newborn animals at the property.