Cute Animal Pictures BiographyThe lush riverside vegetation sways as a herd of elephant wends its way between the broken pools. Standing at the top of an embankment, a half-grown male is watching a larger elephant trudge up the slope toward it.
Without warning, the youngster squats down on his haunches (just like a dog) and launches himself down the slope. Slithering at a good speed, he collides (with an audible thump) into the elephant below, sweeping them both, in a flurry of waving limbs and trunks, to the foot of the hill. There, lying on their stomachs, the pair jousts, twisting and parrying with trunk and tusk.
Meanwhile up above, an onlooker waits, scuffing his feet impatiently and swinging his trunk from side to side. He seems to be waiting for them to clear the trail, but when the two finally begin to traipse up the slope, he squats and whooshes down to create a three-elephant pile up.
What these elephants are up to is a mystery.
In fact, it’s one of the greatest enigmas in the field of animal behaviour.
A pachyderm rite of passage? An evolutionary precursor to bob-sledding? Itchy-rump syndrome?
No, these elephants are playing, and science has no idea why.
Now I know what you’re thinking:
‘Come off it, everyone knows that young animals play to prepare for adulthood.’
The lion cub pinning his sister in a headlock is learning how to make dinner; the capering impala fawns are practicing their escape routine. And the tobogganing elephants are… er… um… Oh yeah, play also promotes camaraderie, so the elephants are slip-sliding their way into life-long alliances.
I hate to tell you, but knowing this is like knowing that chocolate gives you pimples, or you’ll catch a cold from walking in the rain.
OK, I realise it’s not your fault; I’ve seen the myriad wildlife documentaries too.
But as far as science is concerned, there’s not one iota of evidence to support these myths.
And if anyone should know, it’s me (but I’ll get to that).
One day, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox and Brer Coon and Brer Bear and a lot of other animals decided to work together to plant a garden full of corn for roasting. They started early in the morning and raked and dug and raked some more, breaking up the hard ground so it would be ready for planting. It was a hot day, and Brer Rabbit got tired mighty quick. But he kept toting off the brush and clearing away the debris 'cause he didn't want no one to call him lazy.
Then Brer Rabbit got an idea. "Ow!" he shouted as loudly as he could. "I got me a briar in my hand!" He waved a paw and stuck it into his mouth. The other critters told him he'd better pull out the briar and wash his hand afore it got infected. That was just what Brer Rabbit wanted to hear. He hurried off, looking for a shady spot to take a quick nap. A little ways down the road, he found an old well with a couple of buckets hanging inside it, one at the top, and one down at the bottom.
"That looks like a mighty cool place to take a nap," Brer Rabbit said, and hopped right into the bucket.
Well, Brer Rabbit was mighty heavy - much heavier than the bucket full of water laying at the bottom. When he jumped into the empty bucket, it plummeted right down to the bottom of the well. Brer Rabbit hung onto the sides for dear life as the second bucket whipped passed him, splashing water all over him on its way to the top. He had never been so scared in his life.
Brer Rabbit's bucket landed with a smack in the water and bobbed up and down. Brer Rabbit was afraid to move, in case the bucket tipped over and landed him in the water. He lay in the bottom of the bucket and shook and shivered with fright, wondering what would happen next.
Now Brer Fox had been watching Brer Rabbit all morning. He knew right away that Brer Rabbit didn't have a briar in his paw and wondered what that rascal was up to. When Brer Rabbit snuck off, Brer Fox followed him and saw him jump into the bucket and disappear down the well.
Brer Fox was puzzled. Why would Brer Rabbit go into the well? Then he thought: "I bet he has some money hidden away down there and has gone to check up on it." Brer Fox crept up to the well, listening closely to see if he could hear anything. He didn't hear nothing. He peered down into the well, but all was dark and quiet, on account of Brer Rabbit holding so still so the bucket wouldn't tip him into the water.