I don't know how new or old this story and video clip are but they are related in today's Daily Telegraph
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At a US zoo a 210-pound ape [15-stone or 95-kg] noticed a young bird struggling in a pond. It picked a leaf from a tree and tried to get the bird to grasp it in its beak. After several attempts the chick did so and was saved from drowning. The orangutan placed the bird on the grass and proceeded to stroke it gently. The video is captivating. 
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The origins of mammalian compassion to mammals who are not of their own genus or species are not limited to the religious and non-religious world of Homo sapiens
I wrote "atheist orangutan" to attract special attention and to strongly emphasise a point because christians----with their anti-atheist stance----like to claim morality and benevolence for themselves. A fundamentalist religious writer might try to pretend that the ape was displaying the principles of christian charity and love. Instead, it was displaying the best principles of human charity and love. 
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Certainly, orangutans and other apes are neither christian nor muslim, although presumably not knowingly 'atheist' or 'non-theist' either---- because they have no fictional theism to contend with as we atheists and humanists have. Of course, aside from this, some mammalian mothers do like to nurture foundlings of other species.  
This event visibly demonstrates that some non-human primates can express emotional and caring rationality, coupled with kindness, mercy and tenderness, towards others of the mammal kingdom who would otherwise drown and die. 

Tags: ape, mercy, orangutan, tenderness

Views: 357

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for sharing this video.

 

For a long time, I had so much trouble with anthropomorphism, until I realized that it was pretty egocentric (from a species standpoint- humans) to think that humans had the monopoly on certain characteristics, emotions or traits.  Perhaps with anthropomorphism we are not assigning human traits to animals, but rather animal traits to other animals. Perhaps in our own limited view of the world, we simply took ownership of these traits as our own... failing to recognize many other species may exhibit them as well.

 

Quick Orangutan story:  Year ago, while trekking out to a feeding platform at an orangutan research center in Borneo, I stopped to observe a young male orang in the tree.  He was observing the line of humans quietly walking along the trail.  He looked to the front of the line, then looked to the back.  He then proceeded to close his eyes, slap his right palm on his forehead and shake his head in an exaggerated "no".  This was the same trip where I saw a female orang feign interest in a mans boot straps, only so she could reach her hand inside his camera bag while he was distracted.  Extremely clever relatives we have... regardless of whether or not the orangutan in the video was showing love or compassion, I am most impressed by its display of ingenuity.

That's eye opening how the orangutan can display such care and diligence when rescuing the chick. It seemed to be acutely aware of it's own strength and the fragile nature of the small chick. Clearly this orangutan didn't need a deity to show it what compassion or empathy is.
Morality (for lack of a better term) is an extension of being mammal. One of the agreed characteristics of mammals is that we care for our young. Mammals are shown caring and "love" from infancy, and mimic it throughout their lives. There is also an altruistic instinct to save others, but that is harder to explain here. It comes as no surprise that all mammals share common "moral" principles. Primate neurology is complex and extends compassion in all directions. We even understand the pathology of those who don't care and love others. Moderate and severe forms of sociopathy, even those extending to criminal acts, can usually be traced to abuse or neglect of an infant. Religion is a variable in human morality. We should not personify other animals. Seriously, why are we so orangutan-like?

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