Last night, I looked out over our meadow. All the Usual Suspects were there. Scads of birds, squirrels, deer, and rabbits. All co-mingling. There was Disney music being piped in from somewhere. It was nice. I half expected a little bluebird to land on my finger, but then I remembered I was inside the house.
Anyway. Most notably last evening, there were two rabbits in close proximity to one another. Facing each other. Heads bobbing this way or that. Clearly, they were communicating. I tried to imagine. “Hey, Steve. Is that a new Hare Cut?” “Well, Bob. You noticed. As a matter of fact. Harry, down by the big Oak gave me this little number.”
Back to the meadow. As I was watching, one of the rabbits would jump straight up in the air. Not just a little bit, but about one, or two feet high, or maybe more. Straight up. Like a rocket blasting off. Then he’d fall back down to earth and look right at the other rabbit again. And then, a little jig, and a shimmy. This went on for quite some time. Finally, I gave up watching. I know they thump their feet when there is danger. But this jumping up thing. I had to find out why.
Apparently, it is called Binkying. A rabbit does this when it is excited, or joyful. Or, perhaps, discussing new hair styles. Nonetheless, we had a large gray rabbit who could not get enough of the Binkying. As I found out, they have a lot of other behaviors too. From nose nudging, to growling, to flopping. Wabbits.
I love to see animals in all their grand forms of communication. If I could go back and do it all over again, that would be my field of study. Animal Communications.
Which brings me to this. The Beloved Koko. I wish upon wishing that I would have had the chance to meet Koko. But she died a couple of days ago.
Koko, was the famous gorilla who lived in the Bay Area. The reports say that she died in her sleep at her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She was 46-years-old.
In my mind, Koko was the one who changed how we all thought about animal communication. She had a great ability to use sign language to communicate with humans. She also was the one who demonstrated a magnificent amount of emotional capacity. It impacted many.
One of the scientists, Joy Chesbrough, who worked with The Gorilla Foundation said this about Koko: “People’s lives were changed completely after meeting her, they looked in her eyes, and it was almost like another universe.”
Her handler was animal psychologist Francine “Penny” Patterson, who worked with and cared for Koko since the primate was a year old. I can’t say enough about that woman, and her connectivity with that gorilla. I mean, Patterson even got Koko a pet kitten, named Ms. Gray. A big monkey and her cat.
But besides all that, Koko learned to use over 1,000 signs and seemed to understand approximately 2,000 spoken English words. That is pretty amazing.
I feel really sad about her passing. And right along with that, I feel really sad that a large number of people don’t hold a very high regard for the care of our planet, or for the animal kingdom who is sharing this place with us. Yeah. That makes me really sad.
I only wish I could pull out a magic wand and wave it. So that everyone, every single day, would notice something amazingly beautiful about this place. This Planet Earth. And then, every single day, do some little thing, to make it better.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Gandhi
“It is not what you look at that matters. It is what you see.” — Henry David Thoreau
“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.” — Unknown. Often attributed to Abraham Lincoln