Animal Behavior Essay

Orangutans do not belong to the monkeys’ family as a lot of people think since they are members of the great apes family, to which humans, gorillas and orangutans belong. Our human evolution split from Orangutans’ evolutionary process somewhere about 6 million years ago.

Orangutans live in such natural habitats like the humid forests, various mixes of savannas and deciduous woodland of West and Central Africa. Their physical parameters are commonly like these: the usual weigh is between 67 and 196 pounds and the usual height is from 28 to 36 inches. Their pregnancy period is quite like the humans’ (from 230 to 240 days). Usually orangutans live to about 45-55 years old which is greatly dependant of their place of environment – captive orangutans live up to ten years longer than the wild born. Another orangutans’ similarity to the human kind is their sensory abilities.

The Pan troglodytes’ behavior is really interesting. Various behaviors of the orangutans were ascribed before only for humans although the situation changed a lot these days. Orangutans are capable of manufacturing and using simple tools. They can organize hunting parties and kill smaller monkeys. Orangutans are able to kill (under some special circumstances) representatives of their kind. Also orangutans can experience many of human’s emotions such as sorrow, anger, jealousy and love. Orangutans are the social creatures and live in a community in which they demonstrate social structure patterns. Movement plays one of the most important and significant roles in their behavior. The orangutans are able to move in a slow rhythmic ‘cantering gait’, or they can run at different speeds from moderate to very rapid. Such behavior has the name and sometimes is called a ‘brusque rush’.

The movements of orangutans play an important role in many areas of their behavior but the display of aggression is probably the most significant area for various movements. Their aggressive manifestations may vary from bipedal to quadrupedal or tripedal. Such behavior is typical to males however females sometimes are capable of the same movements’ displays as well. In general such a display could be either silent or accompanied with sounds.

Usually captive orangutans display such aggressive manifestations to the public. Common aggressive display looks like this: it starts with a slow side-to-side rock, then it transforms into a bipedal swagger, and the last stage is a lunging run toward the public. The orangutans usually culminate such displays by throwing some object towards the public.

In zoos these manifestations could even include beating on the glass separating the orangutans from the visitors. In captivity such behavior is common for males meanwhile females perform activity more similar to cheering like screaming and hooting. However, they can display too. All these displays are very individual and differ greatly from one orangutan to another.

In general, there are at least five kinds of behavior which are present in every aggressive display when movements play the most important role:

  • Charge – a displaying orangutan moves toward another at a run or a gallop.
  • Arousal – this behavior is usually accompanied with hair erection and compressed lips. When a orangutan is highly excited or angry his hair bristles. It could happen also when he notices or hears something strange or frightening. Another indication of anger or excitement that is present in the aggressive manifestation at the early stages is compressed lips. They may compress lips very tightly.
  • In place movement – The orangutan is sitting on one place and starts performing slight or vigorous movements of the body from side to side or front to back (rocking and swaying). These movements could become something more without any warning signs or indications. The orangutan could stare at another orangutan or at the visitors. In the wild rocking usually happens when a male is preparing for an aggressive manifestation.
  • Exaggerated movement – At this point the orangutan sweeps or rakes the ground and moves his arms in hunched state. Commonly this is the last point before the aggressive display itself. At these moments the orangutan also may hold vegetation or something else and scrub semicircular movements on the ground.

The behavior of orangutans that involve movements can include interaction with object, available at the place of such behavior. The orangutan can throw something; drag a branch, sway, slap, stamp, drum, rake and flail. When the orangutan holds a branch or a stick he can brandish at the other orangutans. The orangutan usually waves the object considered him as a weapon at an opponent during flailing. It often happens that the orangutan flails running or standing bipedal. At these moments his lips are usually compressed, he shouts different pant-hoots and the hair on the body could be erected.

Such behavior of orangutans is very similar to the human. Since they are social creatures their behavior and interaction with objects and the environment is greatly influenced by the social structure. They copy the movements of the leaders of their social groups – just like we, humans, do.

Singer wrote the book, claiming that the way modern people treat animals is outdated, cruel, and absolutely wrong. Pollan came to the conclusion that these ideas are widely accepted in Europe (Germany, UK, Belgium, etc.) and particular steps are being made in this area. The U.S., however, is far from being attentive to the idea that a cow or a pig has the same rights as an infant, for example. Additionally, the author came to conclusion that contemporary world lives according to double standards when it comes to animals: “Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig — an animal easily as intelligent as a dog — that becomes the Christmas ham.” (Polland, 2002).

The strongest argument for the ‘wrongness’ of current situation in the article is the description of the technological processes of producing eggs and hog. The conditions in which hen and piglets are confined can be called dreadful. Animals are either depressed or in great stress all the time. Their natural needs and natural way of life are being disregarded – they are just animals, things, production asset, nothing more. Pollan says that people prefer not to see and thus not to think how pork or eggs, or chickens become goods in a grocery.

Therefore, people are distant from the problem of animal suffering and thus, do not even take seriously the idea of animal rights. However, not all producers are so ‘outdated’. Pollan visited the farm that can be called somewhat of a breakthrough in the concept of producing food we need. This farm raises cattle, pigs, rabbits, turkey, sheep, and chickens – all in natural way. All animals have the conditions to live at as close to the natural as possible. They live a life (if it can be called so) before becoming food (Pollan, 2002). Pollan even changed his behavioral habits and started to purchase meat and other food, produced in the similar ways. In my opinion, they have the right to live in their own living conditions – the wild. They can feel the sense of loneliness, isolation, pain, and hunger. They have the right to live in the wild. Nature cannot be used as the source of profit because maximization of it will eventually destroy everything around us.

The arguments of Pollan are rather strong in terms of facts that modern food production industry is ruthless to animals. It has to be changed and Pollan provided the idea how it can be changed. However, there are weaknesses as well. The need in food and other ‘materials’ provided by animals’ use are tremendous. Natural ways of production most definitely will not be able to cover this need. More to say, Pollan (2002) agrees that naturally grown product will be more expensive. How many people would agree to pay more for the same product if they do not see the difference?

Therefore, it is necessary to propagate natural production and make people see what they eat. Only such hard methods could give animals a chance for a change in the attitude to them. It should be biggest shift in understanding and accepting the rights of animals for not to suffer.

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