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大象也有同情心

2006-08-12 09:24

  Elephants pay their respects to lost loved ones and venerated(2) leaders in a way that suggests a human-like capacity for compassion, scientists have said.

  Researchers said they came to this conclusion after watching how elephants on a Kenyan game reserve behaved towards a matriarch(3) who fell ill and died.

  The dying elephant —— named Eleanor by the researchers from Britain and the United States —— was first assisted by an unrelated matriarch from another family.

  At one point the helper, called Grace, was observed lifting the collapsed(4) animal to her feet(5) using her tusks. When Eleanor fell again, Grace tried again to lift her up —— this time without success.

  Eleanor died where she fell, and was subsequently visited by elephants not only from her own family, but from four other families as well.

  All the animals showed a distinct(6) interest in the body, the scientists discovered, sniffing(7) it with their trunks(8), hovering(9) a foot over it, or nudging(10) it with their tusks.

  "It leads to the conclusion that elephants have a generalized(11) response to suffering and death…… and that this is not restricted to kin(12)," they wrote in a paper for the August issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

  The research team monitored 50 animals on the Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya, tracking them with GPS collars(13) and taking automatically dated and timed photos.

  Most animals, apart from humans, seem to show little interest in the dead bodies of their own species —— but chimpanzees(14), dolphins(15) and elephants are all known to show concern for the sick and dead, the scientists said.

  They pointed out this behaviour in an animal species could be compared(16) to human behaviour, and indicated that such feelings as compassion may not be restricted to our species alone.

  1. compassion 同情,怜悯2. venerate 敬重,崇敬3. matriarch 女家长4. collapse 倒塌,崩溃,虚脱5. lift one to one's feet 扶…立起,把…竖起6. distinct 明显的,清楚的7. sniff 用力吸,闻8. trunks 象鼻

  9. hover 盘旋

  10. nudge 用肘轻推

  11. generalized 普遍的

  12. kin 家族,家属

  13. collar 使戴项圈,给上领子

  14. chimpanzee 黑猩猩

  15. dolphin 海豚

  16. compare 相比,比得上

  大象尊重去世的挚爱,并对领袖怀有崇敬之情。科学家称这种方式表明它们也象人类一样具有同情心。

  研究人员说他们是在观察了肯尼亚保护区里的大象如何对待病逝的“女家长”后得出这一结论的。

  当这位被英美两国研究人员叫做埃莉诺的大象快要死时,另一个象群中扮演“女家长”角色的年长雌象首先跑来帮助她。

  出手相助的这只雌象叫格雷斯。观察发现,她用象牙把倒在地上的埃莉诺扶着立起来。当埃莉诺再次摔倒时,格雷斯又原样尝试了一遍 – 这次没有成功。

  埃莉诺在她倒下的地方死去。随后就有大象前来看望。这些大象不光来自本象群,还有其他四个象群。

  所有大象都对尸体表现出明显的兴趣。科学家发现,它们用鼻子闻她,伸出一条腿在她身体上方盘旋,或者用象牙轻轻推她。

  “这让我们得出结论,大象对病痛和去世具有普遍反应, … 而这并不受家族限制。”研究人员在发表于八月号《实用动物行为科学》杂志上的论文中写到。

  这个研究小组观察了位于肯尼亚北部的桑不鲁国家公园的50只大象,用套在大象脖子上的GPS卫星定位系统追踪它们,并按日按时自动拍取照片。

  科学家说,除了人类,大部分动物好象对它们同类的死尸不感兴趣,但黑猩猩,海豚和大象除外。后者都会关心病人和死者。

  他们指出动物种群的这种行为可以与人类行为媲美,同时表明并不只有人类才具有象同情这样的感情。

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