Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bears and baboons

When Americans deal with local wild animals, they may face snakes, spiders, disease-bearing ticks (small blood-sucking insect-like creatures that are arthropods related to spiders and fleas).  We can face enraged or oversexed elk and we have panthers.  All of these animals have one important feature for us: they lack hands.  Our only handed creature is the raccoon, an intelligent and curious mammal about the size of a dog or a beaver.  


Hands are sometimes considered an important feature in the development of human intelligence.  Watch a baby human explore and experiment and test with her hands and you can see why some people focus on the hand as a source of mind development.  We watched a video on raccoons in Japan.  Someone thought the American mammals were cute and brought them to Japan.  They got loose or were released and now are causing trouble.  They seem to especially like old, mostly abandoned temples.  They are curious and can open locks, turn door handles and too many other things.


Generally, I think Americans feel that bears are probably the most agile, fast and powerful animal in our wilds.  Ok, Everglades pythons and the crocodile/alligator family are also formidable and dangerous.  But luckily, so far, we don't have baboons.  


I saw a video about a gang of baboons who learned to invade trucks at an African border stop and pull out goodies of food while the driver waited for clearance to cross.  I looked up baboons attacking trucks and found this in an open animal park in England, of all places.  The animals are large, quick, strong, intelligent and have good use of their hands.  They have learned to open car-top travel carriers and explore their contents.  Worth a look:

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