During their nap time observers noted that the Elephants exhibited the rapid eye movement we associate with dreaming. The presenter then asked the question that I really wanted to know the answer to. 'What do Elephants dream about?
What do Elephants dream about?
The radio is always a great source of inspiration for me. A chance remark, a snippet of news, and my interest is what they call piqued. This weeks chance encounter with randomness, was a story about Elephants migrating across Africa. It was all standard David Attenborough stuff until they dropped in a gem of information about wild Elephants who apparent only ever sleep for at most two hours at a time, and it's usually standing up. Elephants they said can also go for a few days without any sleep at all. Now compare this to their zoo kept brothers and sisters, who like to lay down and sleep for at least four hours every day. During their nap time observers noted that the Elephants exhibited the rapid eye movement we associate with dreaming. The presenter then asked the question that I really wanted to know the answer to. 'What do Elephants dream about?'
As the head of the food chain, we humans like to think we rule the roost on so many levels. We see the animal kingdom as our inferiors neighbours unable to function on the same mental level as ourselves. And yet watch any wildlife show and you will see that all creatures have the same capacity to share and care for one and other as deeply as any human. Their can be no better example of this than the universal emotion both humans and animals deal with 'Love and death'.
Channel 4 have made a fly on the wall series about life at Chester Zoo. In a recent episode they featured two giant Ant Eaters Pedro & Bliss. The documentary highlighted the close bond the two animals shared. It was a courtship that mirrored any human coupling. However after being treated for a medical problem. Pedro the giant male Ant Eater died quite unexpectedly. Whilst the zoo staff were upset at his death, it was Pedro's Partner Bliss who displayed just how deeply she felt the loss.. The way she displayed her sadness and grief was no different to any human suffering the death of a loved one. She didn't know what to do with herself she wouldn't eat, she was lethargic, she just wanted to nest in the spot where her partner Pedro has slept. She wandered around aimlessly hoping her soulmate would miraculously reappear. Elle didn't need words to express how she felt, she had loved someone and now lost them, so she grieved just like you or I might. And how did she get over it, you might ask? Through the comfort of a friend. Who would have thought man and Ant eaters had so much in common.
And about the question I posed earlier. What do Elephants dream about? The answer says the experts is other Elephants. Well they do say they never forget. Maybe because they dream a lot.