Barbara: I’ve always wondered why wild animals respond to human interaction—despite every indication they should fear and avoid us. Why will an eagle sit on a trainer’s arm and not only allow itself to be petted, but seem to kinda like it? What evolutionary reason could there possibly be for any wild, not traditionally domesticated animal to respond to human stroking, touching, hugging or heartfelt looks? Seriously, if anyone has an answer, I’d love to hear it.
These three sweet and hilarious videos reflect my question. I saw the seal video ages ago and didn’t post it here—even though it astounded me—because someone responded that seals should never be encouraged to approach humans for two very serious reasons: 1) they are unpredictable and could be extremely dangerous, and 2) if they believe that humans are harmless and loving, they risk putting themselves in harm’s way with the not-so-loving among us. But I decided that—as this brought up such a positive feeling in me of that inexorable communing between species—that I would give you the provisos (ie never hug a seal!) and still share with you the experience. The part that will absolutely floor you in the penguin video comes at 1:05—do not miss it!