My friend sent me this article today, and it kind of fits with the morality article I wrote yesterday. It’s a pretty old article, but interesting nonetheless. It focuses on a specific case of interspecies altruism (selflessness exhibited by one animal species to a different species). A 12-year-old girl was abducted by seven men who beat her and were trying to get her to marry one of them. After missing for a week, the girl was found guarded by three lions. A local official said the outcome could have been much worse: “Often these girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage.” A wildlife expert hypothesized that the lions mistook the girl’s cries for a lion cub’s cries.
I believe the lions may have made a connection between a helpless lion cub’s cries and a helpless girl’s cries, but I also think the lions knew very well that the girl was a girl and not a lion. Although this is a semi-good outcome for this specific girl, it’s insane that people live like this. It’s even considered normal: “Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia.” This makes me really angry, but I’ll try not to go on that tangent right now.
Interspecies altruism is a surprisingly common occurrence. If one considers showing selflessness for the welfare of others a moral component, many non-human species exhibit this. Furthermore, many species have been documented to show this behavior to animals of another species (hence interspecies). I feel like when most people think of interspecies altruism it is pertaining to humans helping cats, dogs, pandas, sea turtles, etc. Many people care deeply about animals and help them without expecting anything in return. However, there are cases, like the one in this article, about animals helping humans. I think this concept is difficult for many people to grasp because of our view of the morality of animals. Unfortunately, animals frequently get chucked into the “mindless eating machine” category. Here is a link to 10 other remarkable stories of animals saving human lives. However, interspecies altruism isn’t reserved only for human-animal interactions. There are many cases of non-human animals of different species helping or befriending each other. The book Unlikely Friendships is a great, heart-warming book about interspecies interactions. You can read about elephant-sheep, owl-dog, or even rhino-warthog-hyena friendships!
Extra: Here is a link if you want to learn more about UN Action Against Sexual Violence.