The Blessing of Animals

A Note from Dylan's Desk

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Animals are one of the greatest blessings of life. They live out their lives without a care for anything other than their basic needs. Not to mention that they’re one of the coolest things to ever coexist with us. That last sentence may or may not be more opinion-based, but it stands true regardless. Instead of telling you how we should appreciate the creatures around us, I’ll tell you some stories from the past year that will make you appreciate them.

First of all, one of the most adorable stories I could find. A study from Colorado State University shows that elephants use names to call one another. Essentially, upon observation and analysis of the noises that African Elephants produced towards a herd, researchers found that they could replicate and simulate an elephant’s name being called. Elephants responded appropriately to calls that were addressed to them by calling back or by coming up to the speaker themselves. How incredible is that?

Elephants aren’t the only animal that responds appropriately to recorded sounds. A locally extinct bird was lured back to a remote island with audio recordings as bait. The island is called Pajaros Uno and it was home to many different kinds of nesting seabirds long ago. Unfortunately, however, rats were introduced to the island and immediately decimated the population of the chicks. Less than a year later, a team restored the island by ridding it of the rodents, and the automated call of a Peruvidan Diving-petrel was the final trick to calling the seabirds back to their home. I suppose even birds need to be called home for supper time.

How about we turn our eyes local and see what animals are ‘hopping’ in Kansas, besides the cottontails of course. Biologists are working to restore Alligator Snapping turtles to their rightful place in Kansas rivers and Lakes. Alligator Snapping Turtles are commonly confused with regular snapping turtles which are 8-14 inches in length and weigh up to 45 pounds. Alligator Snapping Turtles on the other hand are significantly larger at an average of 26 inches long and up to 200 pounds. They used to play an important part in our state’s ecosystem, but have not been commonly spotted since the 90s. Let’s hope these wondrous reptiles manage to come back home after being gone for so long.

On the other half of the globe, Europe is also paying a little more attention to its animals. A program called Rewilding Europe is making progress in its efforts to bring more and more of their once-native species back into their land. This most recent news comes from Portugal as the team mentioned above introduces a small herd of Bison to the plains there. Believe it or not, the European Wood Bison used to roam this land commonly until the wild spaces in Europe became too few. Nations across the old world are doing what they can to introduce these species of native bison in order to prevent wildfires and improve the local ecosystems altogether.

Needless to say, there are so many good stories in today’s world of people doing what they can to understand, explore, and help animals in the best ways possible. Let’s all do what we can to give a little back to the animals in our lives that keep our world green and happy. Whether that be taking the dog for a walk or donating to the local animal conservation group. It takes all of us to keep the Earth happy, with paws, hooves, hands, and all.

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