We tend to imagine that animals are way more "human" than they actually are. You might think that you and your cat share a special emotional connection, but the cat won't hesitate to eat your ass if you die on the floor. Yet there are some startlingly human traits that turn up in the creatures you'd least expect. For instance ...
#5. Tigers Take Revenge
In 2007, some dudes at the San Francisco Zoo decided they wanted to spend Christmas Day taunting a Siberian tiger. While we're not sure exactly how you find an angle for shit-talking one of those ("Your population has dwindled to the mid-300s! Dick!"), that's not what's important here. What's important is that the tiger totally held a grudge over it. A few minutes after the men walked away, she escaped over the fence of her exhibit, passed numerous open exhibits of defenseless animals, went through a sea of innocent people/tiger food, and specifically sought out and attacked the three people who she remembered busting her chops.
"These bars are just for show."
But really that's nothing compared to the story of Vladimir Markov, a Russian man who dabbled in tiger poaching. On one fateful day in 1997, Markov managed to shoot and wound a tiger, and in an extra little dig, stole part of the tiger's recent kill. The tiger, however, managed to escape. But it was more than a little miffed by the whole ordeal.
The tiger later found Markov's hunting cabin in the woods. The man wasn't home, so the tiger tore to shit everything that had the guy's scent on it, then waited by the front door with a massive murderection. You can pretty much guess what happened when Markov got home. Yup, they had a cup of coffee and hashed things out.
"Welcome home, motherfucker!"
No, not really. The tiger actually dragged Markov into the bushes and murdered and ate him.
#4. Rats Never Leave a Man Behind
Calling somebody a "rat" qualifies as an insult no matter where you go, even if you're not an old-timey mobster. Try it at work tomorrow, you'll see. Nobody likes it.
That's because rats, in addition to being filthy disease machines, are the exact opposite of whatever makes humans good. Rats don't know how to cooperate or form societies -- they just stampede toward whatever rotting garbage they want to eat next, climbing over one another and probably shitting in each other's faces in their mindless, selfish scramble to eat and breed and do nothing else.
"It's actually pretty boss."
But one thing science has taught us over the centuries is that animal behavior that seems random or horrible on the surface takes on a whole new light if you watch it long enough. And rat watchers have seen them exhibit some pretty loyal, altruistic behaviors with each other. Ironically, finding this out required scientists to set up a cruel Saw-like chamber of psychological torture.
They took two rats that had shared some cage time together, placed one in a restraining enclosure, and left the other to gaze at his trapped friend, while the scientists presumably masturbated furiously. The captive rat expectedly started letting out wails of distress, spurring his pal to lose his shit and start trying to save him. In a clear show of empathy, the rat even ignored a pile of treats nearby, displaying that he wasn't after any reward -- he just wanted his friend back.
"Professor, the mice have reached Shatner-level self-awareness!"
And their benevolence didn't stop there. Once his buddy got out of the trap, the other rat shared some of his own treats with him. Just eating them silently, staring up at the scientists in quiet disdain.
#3. Elephants Mourn Their Dead
Elephants are like the Harvey Keitels of the animal kingdom: clearly badass, but with a stroke of mature intelligence that makes them a little less threatening. Also, constantly naked. But surely our idea of elephants as gentle, sensitive creatures comes purely from Dumbo, right? Well, there is one trait that we thought only humans had the emotional depth to possess: the ability to mourn the dead.
That's right: Where you think of animals as treating their fallen brethren as hunks of rotting meat, when elephants come across bones of their own kind lying around, they will gather around them and caress the skulls and tusks with their long, thick trunks.
Via Royal Society/Karen McComb
"OK, reel it in, pal. You're getting a bit too touchy-feely there.
Not only do they show clearly evident signs of respect for the carcasses of their fallen comrades, but they will even go so far as to "bury" the bodies under foliage or nearby brush.
And it doesn't end with the corpses of fellow elephants, either. In Kenya, one particular beast decided to forge ahead with a double homicide, killing two people. But instead of just leaving them around, the elephant went and buried them.
"I'm so sorry about this. Please don't think bad of me for it."
So yes, they'll still murder you, but they will feel guilty about it and treat your corpse with the utmost respect.