“Humans have a code of ethics,” says Marc Bekoff, an animal behavior expert at the University of Colorado. “If I don’t play a certain way, you won’t play with me. Some animals have the same code.”
Scientists recently discovered that animals who live in groups, such as elephants, foxes, and wolves, are especially likely to follow rules. If they don’t, and each does its own thing, the group might break apart. Group members would be forced to live alone. Then they’d have a harder time hunting and raising their young.
That’s probably why a traveling wolf pack stopped and waited to let its limping leader catch up. Similar social ties may have prompted a captive elephant to save her friend from drowning. Selfish reasons certainly motivated the male fox, who wanted to keep playing.
Sometimes, though, animals go out of their way to do what’s right, even when there’s nothing in it for them. Nobody knows why. “It might simply feel good to be kind, just as it does for humans,” says Bekoff.
Read on for four surprising stories about nice behavior in the animal kingdom. Read the rest of this entry