They Called Her Cinderella
September 22, 2016 2:05 PM   Subscribe

After 42 died, 21 spent two days off by himself, howling. Seasoned observers reported it was more howling than they had ever heard the wolf do in his entire life. "Do wolves mourn?" I asked Smith. "I’ll leave that up to you," he replied.
posted by Michele in California (19 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
ts;cr (too sad; can't read)
posted by The Bellman at 2:23 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Loved this, thanks. It's always good to have a reminder of how similar the animal world can appear to our own.
posted by eschatonizer at 3:09 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's such a sad story, and of course canines mourn. I've met some dogs I'm positive had more complex emotional lives than some people I've known.

They're mammals with an endocrine system, how can they not have emotions?
posted by ridgerunner at 3:18 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


My friend had a beautiful wolf-husky hybrid named Cinderella that just died, this is too soon :(
posted by thedaniel at 3:24 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:42 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I waited for you.
posted by adept256 at 3:50 PM on September 22, 2016


There is a book on How Animals Grieve by Barbara J. King.
posted by gudrun at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2016


Crow funerals
posted by bukvich at 4:32 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


We camped near Slough Creek back in late spring 1999 and fell in with a group of the wolf-watchers; the Rickmans, the couple mentioned in the LA Times story, happened to be there. We saw the pack on a kill out in the Lamar Valley, maybe 200 yards away. They were gorging themselves until they could barely stand -- "meat-drunk," someone called it -- so they could go back to the den and regurgitate to give the pups a meal. It was an incredible sight.

As it turned out, Bob Landis, the filmmaker who made the Nat Geo documentaries was there, too, and he did a private prescreening of the first of his films. We lucked our way into that, too, and learned the Cinderella story, at that point just a heartbreaker about her persecution. Back at home, we stayed in touch with some of the "wolfies" and heard about 42 defending her pups from the wicked sister and becoming the leader. And then we heard of her fate and cried like she was family. Wolves don't get happlily-ever-afters, but it wasn't supposed to end that way.

I guess in a way it didn't. We went back out there just last month, this time with our kids. We had promised ourselves we'd take them wolf-watching, and sure enough, we fell in with the "wolfie"group again. And early one morning above Slough Creek we watched a pup -- a descendant of 21, they said -- creep out of the den and, being curious and playful, stalk a passing bison.

Then the watchful pack, realizing their little one was getting awfully close to a one-ton behemoth, came bounding out of the woods, rounded him up and dashed off into the woods again. Everyone, even the hard-core wolfies, were amazed.

They're as human as we are, in some ways maybe more. Of course they mourn. And, I'm sure, they also rejoice in small wonders like we did.
posted by martin q blank at 8:16 PM on September 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


They're mammals with an endocrine system, how can they not have emotions?

Sure, but which emotions? Do they have sentiment? 21 could have been howling in triumph; in lustful appeal to any promising females who would no longer be kept away; or in fear, with the aim of frightening off possible rivals. He could well have been too stupid to grasp that his mate was dead. But no, we're not entertaining anything ignoble; we named her 'Cinderella' so we're getting our interpretation from a fairy tale.

Parsimonious assessment of the evidence for emotional reaction in other animals is one thing; summarily imposing whatever anthropomorphic tripe appeals to our emotions gets in the way of understanding. It's not just that the tripe is wrong; it's actually far less interesting than the truth. And if we're going to impose human valuations there are going to be plenty of regular things about wolves we're going to disapprove of. What then?
posted by Segundus at 11:55 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Parsimonious assessment of the evidence for emotional reaction in other animals is one thing; summarily imposing whatever anthropomorphic tripe appeals to our emotions gets in the way of understanding.

Don't anthropomorphize the animals. They hate that.
posted by hippybear at 12:50 AM on September 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Sure, but which emotions?

Fight, flight, freeze, fuck or feed at the base of it all. How that's transformed by temperament, intelligence and memory is pretty hard quantify but after decades of close contact with lots of animals I'm comfortable with my assumptions about animals and the predictions I make on that basis. After all a lack quantifiable evidence is not always evidence of a lack.

It's not just that the tripe is wrong; it's actually far less interesting than the truth.

First of all, what do you have against tripe? It cooks up just fine and tasty. ;) Seriously though, you don't get to define interesting for me and at the present time everybody's thoughts on animal psychology are pretty subjective, we just don't have the experimental tools we need to nail down what is happening inside any animal's head.

So, unless someone can prove its not, if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and feels like a duck, I'm going to go with its a duck.
posted by ridgerunner at 1:41 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


we just don't have the experimental tools we need to nail down what is happening inside any animal's head.

Well, except for that we recently had a study released that actually trained dogs to lie motionless inside an fMRI while they listened to various phrases of human speech said in various tones of voice, and we discovered that they have similar brain processes when listening to human speech that humans have, and that they can tell the difference between words of praise being said in a praising voice and words that aren't praising even when said in a praising voice.

We literally looked inside an animal's head.

We have the tools. It's just getting the animals to cooperate well enough to allow us to take the look.
posted by hippybear at 1:51 AM on September 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


We literally looked inside an animal's head.

That's really cool and a good start, but its going to be a while before we can compare my head when stalking a deer and my dogs when she's after field rats. Even better would be when she is greeting me vs. greeting the senior bitch on the farm. Lots of work to be done after the tech is improved.
posted by ridgerunner at 3:19 AM on September 23, 2016


OMG, this appealed to me in every way. Guess I'll be headed to Yellowstone soon, and become a wolfie. It's a foregone conclusion at this point. What I wish I could do is drop out of my life and become a wolfie full-time.
posted by Pocahontas at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Pocahontas at 4:38 AM on September 23, 2016


My friend had some highland beef cattle - one male, two females for breeding, and then all of the offspring were slaughtered for meat. They had them for years, and we'd sometimes feed and observe them over time. These were not noble brilliant predator type animals, but there was one of the offspring (out of tens over the years) where the bull Bellowed and snorted and Protested as it was taken away, and just kept bellowing and stamping the rest of the day.

I have no doubt that animals mourn, but I'm also certain there's more we don't know about their emotions than we do.
posted by ldthomps at 9:59 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


And a recent article by Frans de Waal: Do animals mourn their dead?
posted by sneebler at 12:42 PM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by TrinsicWS at 3:53 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


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