Playful Spirits In Animals

Catalina Toma

Written by Catalina Toma on November 12th 2010
Posted in: Environment
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Have you ever noticed a child’s broad smile while he was playing in a natural setting and even indoors? Their joy and laugh have been envied by many and catching for others. Most certainly their playful mood got to you too and you may have ended up in many situations playing and laughing with them too, thus being able to rediscover the joy and innocence of childhood. Yet, not only children play but also animals. Most certainly you happened to see if not in real life, at least in documentaries monkeys tracking down each other through the trees, kittens playing with various objects and letting the impression of a life or death action – all these things can for certain be considered clear examples of the playfulness in animals too.

Did you ever felt like being forced to play? Most certainly you haven’t since it is in most cases a pleasurable activity one usually loves to indulge into; as such it is considered to be a voluntary activity. Play is considered in fact to be part of the adapting and learning process because apart from its fun purposes it may also teach a child or an animal important things about the life around them. Did you ever take your time to notice the expression on the child’s or perhaps on the animal’s face during a play activity? Most certainly they were not crisped or grumpy but instead their face radiated with joy.

But the question that must be on everyone’s lips is the following one: Which animals play? You would be perhaps surprised to hear that many species of mammals and even birds play. Most often it happens in the case of those animals which simply have an enormous capacity to grasp and learn new and new things. As I already approached the subject of smartness in animals you most probably imagine which animals I am referring to. Unlike some of us there are some animals which have play deeply rooted inside them and will maintain their playful attitude all their life long. Some may quit playing when reaching adulthood, but show incredible patience with their offsprings and as such let themselves involved in their playing activities. Such is the case of cats which keep playing with their kittens and turning that play at times into an incredible show to be watched by us.

Let’s take for example birds and try to observe the way these play. I do not know if you ever happened to see ravens that seemed to track down each other across the sky in what resembled a play or perhaps you happened to see parrots which at times looked as if trying to fool their master or perhaps other parrots as well. It is all part of a game and as such one more clear evidence of their sometimes playful nature. They may as well pursue each other and even turn out jumping and doing all sort of tumbling and even at times engaging themselves in what seemed to be some kind of a hassle. Such seems to be the case of some large green parrots that live in New Zealand, known under the name of Keas. They are in fact so curious in their nature that they sometimes bother people as they may happen to chew on electrical wiring and cause great distress. Being considered some kind of clowns of the parrot species they end up by amusing the eyewitnesses with their acrobatics and their sideways dance movements. Just imagine it and you would most certainly end up smiling.

Have you ever noticed how cats play with mice before killing them? Ironically or not, they just seem to love this play. I do not sincerely know if mice love the game too as they probably deem that they would end up in the cat’s mouth, yet if it were for us to refer to mice only they too seem to be quite playful. Most of the time they end up jumping into the air and even make it snappy.

You most certainly were able to see kittens getting down into what many interpreted as some sort of wrestling activities, as well as monkeys doing almost the same thing, yet all these games end up with one of them being the chaser and the other one being the chased one. They all seem to enjoy these plays and moreover these playful fights manage to teach them important life lessons as at some point in their lives they may need to really get engaged in some similar fights, real ones this time, all of them meant to ensure their survival. Of course I am referring here to animals living in the wilderness. But we may extend the subject on to cats which them too when playing with balls of wool or clews practically execute the same movements which they will later on use when catching mice. I cannot but think in these moments at the rather in resumption movements these small kittens execute when playing with us or with each other.

Have you ever noticed how much kittens seem to love playing hide and seek with us? They sometimes seem to be more than enchanted to hide in cardboard boxes, in laundry baskets and even in drawers at times. And nevertheless they are cute when being seen running after a butterfly or whatever natural element attracting their attention. At times kittens even seem to love being tormented to a certain extent. This is the explanation I happen to find for the fact that even though children sometimes grab them by their tails they do not even bother to look at them. It is true that one should also learn to stay away from their sharp nails but children especially love tormenting them to a certain extent.

What about the rather extravagant idea of dressing a cat? Most children see it as another game, thus being able to prove their own creativity.

Talking about creativity I cannot but mention dolphins. You most certainly cannot contradict me as I am going to say that dolphins are indeed playful creatures and in fact this comes to reveal its intelligence. These lovely creatures seem to love to play. At times when it looks like we are not doing things right they may even scold us as if making us attentive “hey you what are you doing here? Are you going to play or what?” Doesn’t it look like this is in fact what they are saying in those moments? All those jumps, those curving movements across the water are certainly part of a play, being all meant to propel an atmosphere of fun and joy. Dolphins are known to play with balls as well as with other sea animals such as seals, whales and even turtles. I cannot but end this talk about the cute dolphins by saying that they are nevertheless enchanting, intelligent, social and friendly creatures.

Otters too are playful creatures and they simply love to enjoy getting entangled in all sort of games, all this for pure enjoyment.

Honestly I do not think that there is a single person who doesn’t like to play. Animals too love to play and this can be clearly seen in the spontaneous games of dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals as well. Kangaroos seem to be playing when jumping, so do zebras which seem to be playing when running and jumping around and so do polar bears when they look like skating on the ice.

For certain all these animals have the playful spirit deeply rooted inside them and it certainly manages to make their life and ours as well more interesting and joyful at times.11


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2014-07-31 09:25:57