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Zoo Animals and Their Discontents
New York Times ^

Posted on 07/11/2014 5:52:44 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Dr. Vint Virga likes to arrive at a zoo several hours before it opens, when the sun is still in the trees and the lanes are quiet and the trash cans empty. Many of the animals haven’t yet slipped into their afternoon ma­laise, when they retreat, appearing to wait out the heat and the visitors and not do much of anything. Virga likes to creep to the edge of their enclosures and watch. He chooses a spot and tries not to vary it, he says, “to give the animals a sense of control.” Sometimes he watches an animal for hours, hardly moving. That’s because what to an average zoo visitor looks like frolicking or restlessness or even boredom looks to Virga like a lot more — looks, in fact, like a veritable Russian novel of truculence, joy, sociability, horniness, ire, protectiveness, deference, melancholy and even humor.

The ability to interpret animal behavior, Virga says, is a function of temperament, curiosity and, mostly, decades of practice. It is not, it turns out, especially easy. Do you know what it means when an elephant lowers her head and folds her trunk underneath it? Or when a zebra wuffles, softly blowing air between her lips; or when a colobus monkey snuffles, sounding a little like a hog rooting in the mud; or when a red fox screams, sounding disconcertingly like an infant; or when red fox kits chatter at one another; or when an African wild dog licks and nibbles at the lips of another; or when a California sea lion resting on the water’s surface stretches a fore flipper and one or both rear flippers in the air, like a synchronized swimmer; or when a hippopotamus “dung showers” by defecating while rapidly flapping its tail?

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Pets/Animals
KEYWORDS: zoo

1 posted on 07/11/2014 5:52:44 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
or when a hippopotamus “dung showers” by defecating while rapidly flapping its tail

I understand that Michael Moore has often been observed to use the same behavior...

2 posted on 07/11/2014 6:31:18 PM PDT by Zeppo ("Happy Pony is on - and I'm NOT missing Happy Pony")
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To: nickcarraway

Thanks for posting. No two animals are alike and being old, remember the lions and tigers pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing. Liked seeing them but never really felt happy looking at them.


3 posted on 07/11/2014 6:50:56 PM PDT by huldah1776
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To: Zeppo
I understand that Michael Moore has often been observed to use the same behavior...

Thanks for that visual. Now it's time to wire up the home electroshock therapy kit to try to erase it.

4 posted on 07/11/2014 7:51:52 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (The IRS: either criminally irresponsible in backup procedures or criminally responsible of coverup.)
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