O, the humanity!

Watch this:

The bear appears to rescue the raven from an ice-cold death in frigid water (the video says it’s a crow, but it looks like a raven to me — according to the Budapest Zoo’s website, the bear’s a Syrian brown bear). What’s going on here? Is the bear demonstrating compassion? You’d think the bear would look at the hapless raven as an easy hot meal, but instead it seems to take pity on the bird (even after getting pecked in the snout as a reward for fishing it out of the drink). The first comment on this video is, “One of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen, is this how ‘humanity’ should be?” And it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment.

The bear appears to do something we don’t normally associate with animals. If it’s showing compassion then that means it’s able to feel empathy for the bird and its condition and, without any obvious benefit to itself, is willing to go out of its way to help. Is this “humanity?” No, of course not. It is empathy and compassion, but it’s not humanity. It’s a trait found in humans (at least the good ones), but it’s not the thing that defines us.

I bring this up because I see a lot of people interested in the bigfoot/wood ape phenomenon who want them to be human (or almost human). They draw conclusions based on presumed behavior that, to them, displays humanity. But they, like the bear, don’t have any of the concrete things that set us apart from other animals: Technology, religion, art, writing, etc.

Compassionate bears are compassionate, not human. Bigfoot who walk on two legs are waking on two legs, not human. Ravens who fall into icy-cold water are just clumsy.

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Posted in Miscellaneous sasquatchery
11 comments on “O, the humanity!
  1. Donn says:

    Yep, definitely one of the more frustrating things I see from proponents.

    Human-like feet = A SOUL. No. More like: a sole.

    What has been happening in our observation of animals over the past five or six decades is that one inappropriately-erected human bastion after another has crumbled in the face of greater understanding. One of the great good-riddances of this period, to me, has been “instinct.” That word stands for our extreme unwillingness to grant that animals assess situations; make choices; have culture; and solve problems. Those things are NOT human. They’re elsewhere too.

    And animals most certainly demonstrate empathy, when they’re, you know, not hungry. They can spare the Thanksgiving turkey as well as we can.

    Or as I like to put it: observations are not taxonomy. The bulk of the evidence says: although sasquatch are quite possibly – by no means certainly – closer to us on the family tree than gorillas, they are no more human than a gorilla is.

  2. jodie says:

    I don’t think the bear removed the raven out of the water due to his compassion, I think he pulled it out of the water to have a better look at a potential meal. For whatever reason, he decided the raven wasn’t worth the effort.

  3. jodie says:

    Also, people who see these situations and capture them on film tend to apply their own brand of anthropomorphism to the situation. It’s a hard habit to break since we try to fit situations into categories that fit our own experiences.

  4. Really good point, Brian! There’s quite a few studies to suggest some animal species share traits attributed exclusively to humans. Like a moral ‘code’ in monkeys, which most humans would recognise. As another, possibly higher, species of primate – wood apes would certainly have human-like behaviours. Don’t mean they’re human tho.

    Sorry to TED you. But, I’ll TED you anyway with this – http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals

  5. stan norton says:

    Looks like a hooded crow…hard to tell when wet but those are certainly crows mouthing off in the background.

    Judging by the amount of food (including a strangely crow-shaped red blob on the rock) in the enclosure the bear probably did that out of curiosity. Guess it decided that wet crow wasn’t too appealing…maybe he went back to it once it had dried out and was easier to pluck…

    • Brian Brown says:

      The beak looked ravenish to me. Kinda big for a crow?

      • stan norton says:

        I see what you mean, the beak is hefty. Looks like grey plumage on its mantle though which would mean hooded crow. May just be the water making it look grey but who knows…Def crows shouting in the background though.

  6. jodie says:

    I might be more likely to attribute human like tendencies to primates over bears. Have you guys ever seen Chantek, the orangutan at the Atlanta Zoo that was acculturated to human society? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mKsDHXwvCE

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