Study: Bees play for the joy of it
News and headlines for October 31 - November 11, 2022
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
New Braunfels, TX, has passed an ordinance making it illegal to sell commercially-bred dogs and cats in pet stores. Pet stores that want to offer animals for adoption can partner with shelters and rescue groups.
The new law, which takes effect in one year, serves three purposes:
Encouraging people to adopt/rescue;
Educating the community about dog and cat (and rabbit) abuse in mills;
Stopping that abuse.
These laws work. “Nebraska Department of Agriculture records show that half of the state’s commercial dog and cat breeders have left the business,” thanks to these laws.
Pet stores generally get their animals from Commercial Breeding Enterprises (CBEs), commonly known as ‘puppy mills.’ And CBEs engage in systematic neglect and abuse of animals, leaving severe emotional and physical scars on the victims. As a result, one in four former breeding dogs has significant health problems and is more likely to suffer from aggression. Many are psychologically and emotionally shut down, compulsively staring at nothing.
The owner of a local pet store claims the new ordinance will put him out of business, but many pet stores are thriving by partnering with rescue groups and shelters. How? Whenever anyone adopts an animal, a life is saved, and the store benefits by having the new pet owner buy their supplies right then and there. PetSmart, Petco, and other pet stores have been doing it for years.
Three weeks ago in Manteca, CA, shelter staff cited PETA to defend killing in their facility after “Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu has come out strongly in favor of the city pursuing a no-kill shelter for the municipal facility.”
Two weeks ago, PETA attacked dogs identified as “pit bulls” in Beaumont, TX. PETA has publicly called for banning dogs based on their appearance, which is tantamount to a death sentence in “shelters.”
PETA cannot get the last words in when those words are kill, kill, kill. In addition to reaching out to the officials in Killeen and Manteca, my OpEd in the Beaumont Enterprise this week responded to their false claims with science.
Cedar City, UT, passed an ordinance embracing a community cat/TNR program. A community cat program reduces killing, complaint calls, shelter illness, and taxpayer spending.
The No Kill Advocacy Center’s model community cat ordinance promotes all these, and should be the law in every city, county, and state.
A new study found that bumble bees engage in play behavior, the first time play has been confirmed in insects. Play is behavior that “is voluntary, spontaneous or rewarding in and of itself” and does not yield any other kind of reward, such as food or mating.
The team of researchers set up numerous experiments to test their hypothesis, which showed that bumble bees went out of their way to roll wooden balls repeatedly despite there being no apparent incentive for doing so.
Younger bees rolled more balls than older bees, “mirroring human behaviour of young children and other juvenile mammals and birds being the most playful.”
The findings add to “mounting evidence” that,
[E]ach individual bee has a mind — that it has an awareness of the world around it and of its own knowledge, including autobiographical memories; an appreciation of the outcomes of its own actions; and the capacity for basic emotions and intelligence.
Prior research, for example, determined that bees can count. Bees communicate by dance. Bees take shortcuts. Bees make choices. Bees learn from trial and error, and they learn from watching other bees. Bees can figure out puzzles, like pulling a string to access rewards. Bees can recognize patterns. Bees exercise self-control. They learn spatial conceptions — like above and below and do so even faster than nonhuman primates. And they try to be efficient. In other words, when they watch other bees, they don’t just copy the behavior: they form an “understanding of the desired outcome of the task, and tailored their actions accordingly.”
In short, “Bees display a remarkable range of talents — abilities that in a mammal such as a dog we would associate with consciousness.”