Animal Emotions

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Raven Asks for Help Removing Quills After Porcupine Attack

A raven in pain trusts a human will help relieve his pain from porcupine quills

I realize that some of my essays, although they are about true events in the lives of other animals, can be "downers". So, I'm always looking for "uppers", and this story, sent to me by a former student at Washington University (St. Louis), Nicole Balant, made my day.

The video of a young raven in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, trusting a woman to remove porcupine quills is priceless. Wilfred, as the Cleary family named him, sat patiently as Gertie Cleary removed the quills one-by-one. Wilfred protested now and again, but he clearly trusted that Gertie was helping and would continue to help him despite his squawking. 

To quote Ms. Cleary, “It reminded me of a child with a splinter and when you pull a splinter out, they holler and screech and pull their hand away.” 

Wilfred stayed around the Cleary home for a day before flying off.

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What I love about this video is how Wilfred knew what to do to get help, because he couldn't pull out the quills on his own. And, Gertie Cleary did what was right, as, I would like to believe, others would also do. Animals depend on our goodwill and this story made my day.

The teaser image can be seen here.

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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