Smart An­i­mals

On land and in wa­ter, an­i­mals can be very in­tu­itive

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents -


Woolly was al­ready an el­derly ewe when we in­her­ited her in 2000. Her daugh­ter, Cloudy, was also one of the small mob we adopted. They both quickly set­tled in their new pad­docks on New Zealand’s Banks Penin­sula and were con­tent to share the hill­sides with a pig, a don­key, sev­eral goats and a few lla­mas.

Af­ter sev­eral years we no­ticed Woolly wasn’t able to keep up with the flock. She stum­bled oc­ca­sion­ally and banged into fence posts. We also saw that Cloudy was stay­ing close to her mother’s side. So, we put a dog col­lar on Cloudy and added some bells. As Woolly’s eye­sight started de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, she lis­tened for the tin­kling bells mov­ing to­wards them. By the time Woolly was com­pletely blind, she had learned to de­pend on her daugh­ter.

Cloudy never moved far from Woolly and checked on her fre­quently. She led her to good pas­ture to graze and to the wa­ter trough when she needed to drink. They both re­sponded to my voice, com­ing to the fence for treats when I called. In howl­ing gales and cold win­ter storms, Cloudy would walk along­side Woolly, guid­ing her to the shel­ter of manuka scrub or into the barn.

A decade later, Cloudy’s an­guished

You could earn cash by telling us about the an­tics of unique pets or wildlife. Turn to page 8 for de­tails on how to con­trib­ute.

bleat­ing alerted us to her mother’s demise. Cloudy died the same week.

Sheep have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing stupid, but I’ve seen with my own eyes that they are in­tel­li­gent and can be very com­pas­sion­ate.


On a jour­ney around Aus­tralia in 2004, my wife Betty and I vis­ited the Kim­ber­leys in Western Aus­tralia. When we be­came aware of the var­i­ous cruises of­fered in the area, we de­cided to ex­pe­ri­ence the fan­tas­tic colours and rugged ter­rain from the wa­ter – and booked a tour out of Broome.

The ves­sel had four small, flat­bot­tomed boats for sight­see­ing and fish­ing. Early one morn­ing, while fish­ing with an­other man and the skip­per, we heard ex­cited shouts com­ing from some women in an­other boat about 300 me­tres away. We de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate. Com­ing slowly to­wards us were two hump­back whales. They were black and ap­peared to be the length of two cricket pitches.

The skip­per shut down our mo­tor and we watched the whales ap­proach­ing. “They’re head­ing straight for us!” I cried.

“Don’t worry, they know we are here,” replied the skip­per. “Just sit still, say noth­ing and all will be well.”

Then it hap­pened. The whales came right along­side the boat. The one clos­est to us stopped and this great black eye, the size of a din­ner plate, stared right at me. I looked back at this huge ma­jes­tic an­i­mal in amaze­ment. This eye­balling was un­be­liev­able. It sent tin­gles down my spine.

About five sec­onds later, al­though it seemed much longer, this in­cred­i­ble an­i­mal slipped silently un­der the wa­ter and pro­ceeded on its way.

The three of us just sat there silently in awe of what just hap­pened.

Fi­nally, the skip­per said, “Hey mate, do you think it will recog­nise you next time?”

See­ing those whales up close was one of those rare, once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ences.

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