People usually view the life of animals as a dangerous one with predators lurking at every corner. Nonetheless, animals have many characteristics which will make anyone fall in love with them. Usually, we fall for their cute looks and natural innocence. In reality, animals are just like us. They understand emotions, have empathy, and overall like to have a merry time. They also love to play, relax, and enjoy a good meal. Amazing, isn’t it? You would be more amazed and fascinated once you read these 10 happy animal facts that will make your day.
1. On the Japanese island Yakushima, macaque monkeys take baths in the hot springs and have snowball fights for fun. They also ride deer for transportation, and in return, they groom the deer and share food with them.
The macaque monkeys in Japan probably have a better life during the winter season than most humans on Earth. During the extreme winters, the older macaques take dips in hot spring and spend their time relaxing there. The younger ones also take dips in the hot springs, but they do not stay in as long as the adults. Instead, they engage in playful snow fights with other young ones. They like to chase each other and wrestle without adult supervision as the adults lie relaxing in the hot springs.
One other notable feature of the Japanese macaque monkeys is that they have an amazing relationship with the Sika deer. The monkeys often ride the deer just like human ride horses. These rides are mostly done in a playful manner, though sometimes the macaques actually use the Sika deer for transportation. The deer also get some benefits in return. Macaques sometimes share their food with the deer. They also groom the deer perhaps as a thank-you gesture for the ride. (1, 2)
2. A Binturong, also known as a “bearcat,” smells like buttered popcorn.
Buttered popcorn is the classic and most favorite movie theater snack of all time. The aroma of hot buttered popcorn is so striking that nature has made its own version in the form of bearcats. A bearcat is a shy, shaggy, bear-like mammal from Southeast Asia. People who have smelled them describe the aroma as the same as hot, buttered popcorn. It was previously thought that this aroma comes from a scent gland in this mammal’s body. But it’s not true. Rather, the smell comes from the bearcat’s urine.
The bewitching scent of the bearcat’s urine is due to a compound called “2-AP.” This is the same compound that is produced by popcorn kernels once they pop. A bearcat urinates in a squatting position, and in the process, its feet and tails get soaked. They drag their pee-soaked tails over trees leaving a buttered-popcorn scented trail. It helps them in marking their area. The bearcat also uses the smell of its pee to find potential mates. (1, 2)
3. Wild gorillas sometimes compose happy songs and like to hum them during meals.
When we eat our favorite food, we feel contented and happy. Just like us, gorillas too feel happy if they get their favorite food, and they like to show it by singing or humming. To understand the food-related calls of gorillas, Eva Luef, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, studied two groups of wild gorillas in the Republic of Congo. She found out that gorillas make two different types of sounds while eating. One of the sounds was a steady, low-frequency humming. It sounded like a sigh of contentment. The other one was singing. The singing was a series of short, differently pitched notes. She also found that the gorillas didn’t sing the same song again and again. Rather, they composed little food songs and sang them as they eat.
Gorillas kept in zoos also display the same feature. According to Ali Vella-Irving, zookeeper of the Toronto Zoo, Canada, each gorilla has its own unique voice, and she can even identify who is singing. She also said that when a gorilla gets its favorite food, the singing becomes louder. The only difference between zoo-kept gorillas and wild gorillas is that in zoos, every individual sings for their own meal. In the wild, generally, only the dominant male sings and hums while eating. (source)
4. Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing other animals from killer whales.
Among all other positive characteristics of humpback whales, scientists have found that they are rather altruistic in nature. All over the world, humpback whales are consciously trying to rescue other animals and even humans from being hunted by killer whales. Marine ecologist Robert Pitman observed one such event in 2009. He was in Antarctica observing a pod of killer whales trying to hunt a Weddel seal. He saw that as the orcas were nearing the seal to kill it, a humpback whale suddenly rose up out of the water beneath the seal. The whale placed the seal safely on its upturned belly. When the seal slipped down, the humpback used its flippers to help the seal back aboard. The humpback let the seal swim away once the coast was clear.
After witnessing this event, Pitman decided to investigate further. During his research, he found 115 documented interactions of humpback whales and orcas between 1951 and 2012. In 89% of the events, the humpbacks intervened just as the killer whales were beginning to hunt or were already engaged in a hunt. This intervention is not limited to any particular area. Rather, humpback whales are foiling hunting plans of killer whales all over the world. (1, 2)
5. Crocodiles love to play by carrying flowers in their mouths and giving their smaller companions rides on their backs.
In zoos, crocodiles have been observed playing with balls and other objects, but researchers and scientists had no idea whether they did so in the wild too. When Vladimir Dinets, a biologist at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, heard about this, he decided to conduct research on this topic. He observed and documented the behavior of crocodiles for over 3,000 hours and also collected reports from crocodile biologists. His hard work yielded success, and he acquired 15 separate observations where crocodiles exhibited play behavior.
One of the play behavior of crocodiles is sticking their snouts into the water and snapping at the stream. Since crocodiles spend lots of time in the water, this behavior can be seen often. In other instances, they were seen playing with flowers. Crocodiles carried bright flowers in between their teeth. These flowers were the ones that had fallen from the trees and into the water stream or on the land. Crocodiles were also seen giving piggyback rides to their smaller companions just for fun. (source)
6. Cows are natural optimists or pessimists, just like us human beings.
Cows are quite similar to human beings. They crave affection and love to build bonds and relationships with other cows and even with other species including humans. Their emotional sensitivity is so high that they can experience an emotion by witnessing the same emotions in others.
According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, calves possess inherent optimism and pessimism. Some calves are in-born optimists while others are pessimists. To understand this, the researchers set up an experiment involving 22 calves. Through this experiment, the researchers found out that optimism and pessimism are a consistent individual trait in cows. It does not change with their moods and emotions. (1, 2)
7. During mating season, mice sing just like birds, but we can’t hear them.
Most people are repelled by rodents, but these creatures are a lot like us. They can feel other’s pain and laugh when tickled. They can even tell the difference between Picasso and Renoir. According to a recent study, rodents, such as mice, possess a talent similar to birds – singing. They do not always sing but do so only to attract females. We cannot hear their serenade because their songs are too high-pitched to be heard by humans.
To record their vocalizations, researchers at Duke University used a special computer program. They let male mice spend time with a female or sniff the female’s urine. It turned out that when male mice sniffed female urine but couldn’t see her, their songs were loud and complex. But when the male mice were with the female, their songs were longer and simpler. (1, 2)
8. Goats are usually drawn to humans with happy facial expressions.
It might come as a shock to you that goats can actually understand expressions such as happiness, sadness, or anger. To understand this amazing characteristic of goats, the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats of Kent, UK, conducted a study. Researchers set up black and white photos of human faces depicting different expressions on a wall in a test area. When the goats were sent to the test area, they found that the goats preferred smiling faces. They spent quite some time examining the smiling faces with their snouts.
This test also revealed another unusual fact about goats. Researchers found that goats showed preference towards happy faces only when the photos were placed on the right side. When placed on the left, the goats showed no preference. According to the researchers, this is because the goats use only one side of their brain to process the information. So, at one time, either the left side of the brain is processing the positive emotions or the right side is trying to avoid the angry faces. (source)
9. In the mornings, the ring-tailed lemurs take a communal sunbath to warm themselves. They face the sun sitting in sun-worshiping posture or lotus position enjoying the warmth.
You might have noticed cats and dogs lazily soaking up warmth by lying under the winter sun. The ring-tailed lemur takes sunbathing one step further by doing it communally. Most mornings, these creatures gather together in groups consisting of 15-20 individuals. They huddle together and sit on the ground facing the sun with their arms and legs outspread. Their sitting position is somewhat similar to the lotus position of yoga.
The morning sunbath ritual of ring-tailed lemur helps in reaffirming their social bonds. Lemurs are highly territorial and mark the territories with their scent glands. In their female-dominant society, the male ring-tailed lemur changes groups, but the females stay with the group in which they were born. (1, 2, 3)
10. Polar bears sometimes make pillows out of the snow before they fall asleep.
Polar bears love to sleep. They can sleep for seven to eight hours in one go. Sleep is very essential for polar bears as it helps them in conserving energy. They can sleep just about anywhere. Usually, polar bears choose a dry, comfortable spot with good visibility. If they are on soft ground, they dig shallow sleeping pits known as “day beds.” These day beds have been measured to be up to 0.5 meters in depth and 1.5 meters in diameter. While lying in the bed, they use their paw or a rock or a block of ice or snow as a pillow.
During the winter, bears tend to sleep in their day beds while snow piles on top of them. The snow acts as an insulating blanket. The polar bears sleep so soundly that they can sleep right through blizzards. During severe blizzards, they stay curled up under the snow for several days until it passes. (1, 2)