Ugh tomorrow is my last day at the raptor center so I’m just overcompensating with posts and plans, building up a hopeful future to mitigate my inevitable bird withdrawals
My biggest fear with having a companion bird is that I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist their mating displays
I can’t believe I’m leaving Alabama for good in two days wow
And I still haven’t finished packing wow
If/when I ever have a companion crow it is my dream to try and teach them so much. I spend hours thinking of methods for teaching them numbers and speech and different methods of communication and ugh.
I can’t believe this kind of thing isn’t already being attempted with all the other research that’s been done.
Despite numerous attempts with animals ranging from great apes to poodles, there has only ever been one animal truly taught to read. He was a performing orca named Hyak who lived at the Vancouver Aquarium for nearly 20 years. His lessons in reading comprehension started off as an accident. Dirk McKimmel, the senior trainer at the aquarium, found that the whale would often stop by the underwater viewing window that led into his office as he sat reading. He began to show the maturing 5,000 lb animal the pictures in his books and was quite startled by how interested he seemed to be. Thinking the whale simply enjoyed the novel visual stimulation, he soon took the books up to the pool ledge and began reading out loud as he showed the whale the pictures. This continued for about ten years but no one thought Hyak had any actual comprehension of the book he was being read.
One day in 1980, a new cetologist at the aquarium began to question what was really going on in these sessions. In a highly controlled study, he began to ask the whale questions about the books.
On that fateful day, the first thing we did was take Hyak to the smaller side pool in his aquarium, away from his tank mates. He was used to this as we often moved him in order to perform our behavioral experiments, however this time instead of asking him if an image on a screen was round or square as per usual, we asked him if Harold had indeed drawn the moon with his purple crayon. To our great surprise, Hyak distinctly nodded “yes.” We continued on with these studies for several weeks and found that Hyak answered our questions with a 96% accuracy rate on numerous different books McKimmel had been reading him. I decided to take it a step farther, holding books up to Hyak’s window without reading aloud to him. At first it felt a bit silly but soon I noticed when he wanted the page flipped, he would look up and meet my gaze, as though impatient with me. The very next week we attempted to test Hyak’s reading comprehension on this new book he had been reading and discovered he could answer every question about “the Emperor’s New Clothes” perfectly.
[My Life with Whales- Nicholas Willens, 1995]
Willen’s 1989 report on Hyak in Animal Cognition was quickly discredited as the idea of a reading whale appeared simply ludicrous. However recent research into the study has found no factual errors and many are arguing the paper should be taken seriously. Mary Kyles, a senior research scientist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation society was recorded saying "As it has been proven that orcas are highly linguistic and speak in a language of their own, a whale in captivity with little to do but listen to his trainer read books could easily pick up the skill."
This story does not end well for poor Hyak. Defeated, both Willens and McKimmel stopped providing Hyak with reading material and he sadly passed away in 1991. Though he may be gone, his legacy lives on in the important contributions he made to our understanding of the animal mind and just what it is capable of.
This is why I love orcas. Their intelligence is just mind blowing.
What Really Happened in the Congo: Belgium’s ‘Heart of Darkness’
Leopold famously said when he was forced to hand over the Congo Free State to the Belgian nation: “I will give them my Congo but they have no right to know what I have done there,” and proceeded to burn archives.
Did y’all know about this?
It’s good to know even though it’s extremely horrible to read/see….And people wonder why the African continent is so behind….
"The friendliest whales in the world" from the Telegraph. Apparently these gray whales will like come right up to your boat to check you out and get pets! They even got a dude kissing them! God, whales are so awesome. This whale doesn’t look that big in this picture but check out this one; he’s huge!
I can’t believe whaling exists. People are the worst.