There is an unspoken assumption that only domesticated animals like dogs, goats, horses, and cats can communicate with humans. A new study, however, is challenging that notion claiming that undomesticated animals can also “talk” with us. Can you imagine talking to a kangaroo? Researchers at the University of Roehampton and the University of Sydney claim that’s more possible than you think.
“The Unsolvable Problem Task” with a Kangaroo
To find whether man and kangaroo can actually communicate, researchers did an experiment known as “the unsolvable problem task” where they tracked the behavior of 11 large marsupials after being presented with a closed box of food by a human. Instead of trying to open the box themselves, which is what undomesticated animals are expected to do, ten out of those 11 kangaroos used gazes to communicate with the human so they could open it for them. Gaze alterations between the person present and the box signal a heightened form of communication that closely resembles interactions between people and domesticated animals.
Kangaroos and Their Cognitive Abilities
This research is a continuation of a large body of work that tries to answer whether intentional communication in animals toward humans is the result of domestication or natural instinct. Lead researcher Dr. Alan McElligot from the University of Roehampton, (now based at City University of Hong Kong) has previously studied goats and how they can understand human cues. His conclusion, after both studies and other experiments, is that the kangaroo, much like dogs and goats, is a social animal that may be able to adapt its standard social behavior to include human interactions when they are present in their environment.
Dr. Alexandra Green, who was also part of the study, is hopeful that the results of this test will help the public understand kangaroos’ cognitive abilities and see them as fascinating animals rather than “as a pest.”
Two Beluga Whales Have Finally Been Set Free After Almost A Decade In Captivity
For nine years, Little Grey and Little White were forced to perform for audiences at a Chinese aquarium. However, their days of putting on shows are long behind them now as the two beluga whales have finally been released from captivity.
After being captured off the Russian coast back in 2011, the two whales were put through rigorous training to perform for the masses. They were a popular attraction in China, but not everyone supported the aquarium’s decision to make them work. Some people called for the pair’s freedom, and now, thanks to a leviathan relocation project, that’s exactly what Little Grey and Little White have gotten.
One Step From Freedom
In early August, the two whales were flown more than 6,000 miles across the globe to a sea sanctuary in Iceland’s Klettsvik Bay. This is the first open water sanctuary in the world, and it’s where the duo will call home on their last stop to complete freedom. The people at the SEA LIFE Trust are hopeful that the whales can be returned to the wild very soon. However, they want to ensure that the creatures are ready for such a big step, given that they’ve been in captivity for nine years.
The Final Checks
With Little Grey and Little White now in the sea sanctuary, experts can monitor them to see how they cope in a larger body of water. If everything appears fine and they adapt well to their new surroundings, the Trust will let them roam the open seas alone for the first time in almost a decade. As much as they want to give the animals complete freedom now, they don’t want them to be unprepared for life in the wider world.
We hope that everything goes to plan in the sea sanctuary and that the whales are given the all-clear to be as free as they were nine years ago.