Communication between animals
Many people are surprised to hear that animals can communicate just as much as they do. Most believe that only parrots have the gift of speech. However, all animal species have their own language, and the fact that we do not understand them is actually our problem. Many people do not understand French or Chinese either, but they don’t think that the French and the Chinese fail to communicate with each other. Scientists who have listened carefully to the variety of sounds emitted by different animals have found that they do indeed communicate with each other. Humans seem to have imagined that we are the only species capable of talking and shaping the language system. Perhaps animals listening to us think we are making meaningless sounds too.
A parrot that saved a man’s life
Parrots are known for their communicativeness, but people mistakenly think that parrots only repeat what they have heard. Authors Masson and McCarthy write about miraculous parrots in their book When Elephants Weep. When psychologist Irene Pepperberg left her parrot at the veterinary clinic for surgery, her parrot named Alex called to her, “Come here. I love you. I’m sorry. I want to come back.”
Another parrot in New Jersey, USA, saved its owner’s life by crying, “Murder! Help! Come quickly!” When neighbors ran to the scene, they found the owner lying on the floor, bleeding and unconscious. He would have died without the parrot’s cry. The same parrot woke up its owner and neighbors when a fire broke out in a neighboring house.
Another parrot that talks about its desire for freedom appear in the children’s book The Turtle Who Fights for Animal Rights. The parrot that shows up at the animal trial says, “It is a beautiful day outside. I want to fly to the sky. I want to fly to the sky,” thus expressing the desire of all birds that sadly live in cages. While these birds have some security and food, they have never experienced freedom or flying like their wild counterparts have. The parrot in this book is the advocate of all birds whose language people do not understand.
Animals don’t need cell phones to communicate
Scientists studying whales have discovered that they produce unique clusters of sounds in order to communicate with each other. Rabbits communicate with each other by tapping their hind feet on the ground. In this way, they can ‘talk’ to each other at a distance of 200 meters which is impressive because people at that distance need a cell phone.
Animals communicate in a way that is difficult for us humans to understand. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake conducted an experiment in which he simultaneously filmed people at work and their pet dogs at home. The moment one man in the study left work, his dog, waiting at home, headed for the door. Some will think this is a learned behavior because the dog knew when its owner would return from work (or perhaps it knew how to look at a watch!). However, it is quite amazing that the same thing happened even when the man came home from work every day at a different time. The dog moved towards the door exactly 20 minutes before the arrival of the owner no matter how long he took to get from work to home. Cats have also demonstrated such abilities. This shows that animals are much more advanced than humans are in this respect.
It’s not so hard for people to believe that dogs and cats can communicate. On the contrary, owners treat their pets as equals because they know that their pets are intelligent, have unique personalities, and understand them.
Cows can talk to each other
Sadly, it is not well-known that domesticated animals bred for food can also communicate with each other. A five-month study by the University of Sydney found that cows produce certain calls depending on the emotional states they are in, which also reveals their individual personalities. Maybe cows tell each other how juicy the grass was or how unhappy they are because their calves have been taken away, but all people hear is “Moo! Moomoo! Moo!” It’s pleasing to discover that there are people today who acknowledge cow communication. Scientist Alexandra Green spent thousands of hours listening to a herd of 333 cows. She found that cows had certain sounds for when they were warm and fed, while they sounded completely different when they were hungry and isolated from the rest of the herd.
Cows are known to be very social animals and it’s no surprise that they show their individuality throughout their lives, not just in relation to their calves. Pigs, sheep, and goats also have ‘voices’ that differentiate each individual in the herd. In the last two decades, scientists have developed more precise audio analysis techniques that are able to isolate subtle changes in animal communication, such as differences in pitch, volume, and voice timbre.
Unfortunately, these scientific insights into the ability of cows to communicate do not benefit these animals much because no matter what is said, cows are still bred for food; they are still just sentient ‘talking’ food.