So This Dolphin
Walks on Water…
For a species who consider themselves top of the food chain, masters of the universe, the most evolved and all that, we also have some pretty consistent hang-ups about animal behavior. Take apes and monkeys, for example. In the 1940s and 50s, we couldn’t get enough of them. They were the stars of cutting edge science research, buddy adventure movies, commercials and, as a plus, were adopted by many a celebrity eager to have a non-human baby.
Of course, such an anthropocentric characterization had unforeseen consequences: as they live as long as we do, once the fad faded away, many a Hollywood dweller no longer had any use for them. Research funding dried up as soon as they started “aping” our worst behaviors and those who became famous in the silver screen, got impossible to handle behind the scenes. After just a couple of years, they were being shipped to live in wild retirement homes for the next 40, 50 years.
And then the attacks began. Bratty, vicious, oftentimes lethal attacks on their human daddies and mommies, with no criminal penalty applicable, of course. With no way back to the wild, where they should have never been plucked from in the first place, their only place to go were those assisted living facilities, no matter how many they’d maimed.
So much for the cute baby monkey, who grows faster and is more intelligent than humans by the time he’s two. At two and half, he’s a murderous monster, they found, and lucky not to be shot by the local sheriff during another rampage. Once wild, always untamed, bless them all. And that was that. Or was it?
Along came the dolphins. When scientists realized the size of their brains, guess what they thought would be great doing about it? To strap bombs to them and let them blow themselves next to enemy vessels, that’s what. Just like radical terrorists do now with willing humans. Go figure. Wait, there’s more. Highly social like us, they actually speak among themselves, scientists say, and all the dolphins could do about such findings was, well, laugh about.
Just like they did when we began to believe they’re some sort of illuminated creatures, with a preternatural friendly nature. So cute too. Until they were caught on tape slaughtering each other. Big ones having fun killing small ones. Sounds familiar? SeaWorld divers and imprudent visitors being dragged under in front of the cameras, it all came as a shock. What, they seemed to enjoy doing it? We’re shocked, indeed.
And now comes the very biblical walk on water routine. We’re told the trend is recent, never before observed in the wild but by now, for obvious reasons, we doubt anyone venturing unarmed into the wild has been able to return with full working marbles to speak of (and all limbs still in place). Scientists, never at loss for anthropocentric comparisons, see a kind of dancing routine in the trend. They do it for fun, really, just for being sociable. Haven’t we heard all that before?
What’s next? Performing baptisms? Available for weddings and Mitzvahs? Who knows? All we’re too aware of is our own gullibility. And pathological need to find a way to accommodate our fascination with animals and their presence in what we consider our own world, with our psycho-savage need to nurture and then smothered to death those we love the most. Sounds familiar?
On one hand, we slaughter them, eat them, hunt them for sport, test them for drugs we’re afraid to use on our own bodies, and abuse them for pure amusement. On the other, we long to communicate with them, share experiences, star in road movies with them. Alas, we can’t have both ways. Either we let them be whatever it is we can’t seem to understand they really are. Or we invite them to play Freddy Klugger with us.
In other words, if you want to believe that J.C. walked on water, is one thing. If you think that’s a dolphin fast approaching with a smile on his face and a chainsaw stuck into his blowhole, you better run, buddy. Or as that ol’ fashioned bumper stick saying, use at the tail end of some fisherman’s tale, honk, if you love cheeses.
But haven’t you heard? It turns out crows may be the most intelligent animals to ever fly over the earth. Who knew? Kind of cute too. And here we go again.