I read Mark Trail panels in the Sunday comics yesterday and learned that giraffes, though they make no vocalizations when around humans, hum at night when they’re alone. (I guess video/audio surveillance captures this.) Scientists are exploring whether the hum is akin to snoring or if it is communication among giraffes. I hope it’s the latter. I sort of know it is–humming a message at night. How real that sounds. Recently, I watched Spy in the Wild (TV documentary). The hidden camera captured a group of giraffes paying a visit to the remains of a deceased giraffe, as elephants do to their relatives. It was a touching scene. I’ve no doubt they have many sensibilities we humans do not recognize, possibly some good ones we don’t have.
The hum could be like purring, which to cats is a communication and a comfort. They purr, I’ve read, even when dying. My female cat, Pearly, has at least two distinctive purrs. One is a straightforward, steady purr. The other is a split sound, the steady purr accompanied by a faint bubbling water sound (not liquid in the throat). It’s very charming and always brings out the best behavior in me. She has other vocalizations requesting something. One is a short, spurted Mew, that indicates emergency–the stray cat ate all the food. She gives me slow blinks when all is well. I blink back, squeezing my eyelids down a bit to make the blinks match hers.
It’s humbling to discover the intelligence and emotions of animals. It’s also frightening. I don’t have a concept of “dumb animals” anymore. Everything is a personality, an entity, and if I dwell on that, the responsibility of it gets overwhelming. I can’t save everything or support all the causes. Documentaries like Blackfish (on killer whales) and Shirley and Jenny are uncomfortable knowledge. I regret enjoying water world shows and circuses. I can’t visit zoos. And so on. But there’s a danger in being too precious with one’s own sensibilities–scrupulosity. Let me avoid that.
So, I balance my concern thinking with pleasure about the sheer wonder of the animal world. Occasionally, I howl with my dogs. I stand on my deck and whistle back at birds.