Can Animals Have Friendships With Humans?


we love to keep pets forming close bonds with them and making them part of our lives but around the world some people have sought out unusual and even potentially dangerous relationships with some very surprising animals for a human to want to befriend a lion is one thing but it takes to to form a partnership if you get a bird to be your friend you have a friend for life when she’s in a good mood it’s a phenomenal feeling and recently science has begun to unearth why other animals might be willing to form lasting bonds with us I’m Liz Bonnin and I’m going on a worldwide journey of discovery to uncover the reasons behind some of the most unexpected animal human friendships the dolphins are telling the fisherman how to fish how a hippo could become part of a family why a polar bear would let a man give it a hug it’s just a really special bond and how a human could ever join a pack of hyenas without being harmed there’s probably a reason why a lot of people don’t work with these guys I’m going to meet some of the most profound and extreme pairings to find out what lies at the heart of these surprising human animal relationships

millions of us have close bonds with animals and for most people that means our pets like cats or dogs like Ernie here right but some people have made friends with animals that you’ve normally avoid so how have they done this I’m going to try and find out how these relationships have formed why they work and what’s in it for both the humans and the animals [Music] I’m starting by tracking down three remarkable relationships that seem to defy logic to try and discover how these bonds form and I’m beginning my extraordinary journey in Canada just outside Vancouver near the small town of abbotsford I’ve come here to meet Marc Dumas more than 16 million people have watched a clip of him swimming with a rather unexpected female companion her name is Aggie she’s 18 years of age and she weighs around 60 stone or so her [Music] Hagi is a polar bear and marc has been her guardian provider and playmate since she was 8 weeks old Marc is the only person in the world who has this kind of bond with a fully grown polar bear and apparently with anyone other than Marc or his wife Dawn Agee can get a bit cranky what do I need to know to him she’s jealous of other women so seriously seriously when someone starts talking to me it takes my attention away from her she gets upset about it dawn can take my attention as much as she wants because Aggie doesn’t mind time she’s used to me talking all the time so she’s super protective of you do you think is that what this behaviors about her what I think she’s just possessive possessive I need to see this with my own eyes getting close to a jealous and potentially dangerous polar bear is little disconcerting but don’t tells me I’ll be fine as long as I let Aggie have all of Marc’s attention by the time to get through he’s

already very curious isn’t she hi honey and then we stay about three feet away from so the gates open all right so we’re actually not behind a closed fence yeah come on in are you sure I’m positive come on in she’s right behind you dawn hi hi that’s her fence she knows that’s her fence hi sweetheart it’s just taking stock of what exactly is going on because I didn’t realize we weren’t going to be behind a closed fence I’m staring as a polar bear it

was smelling the air figuring out who we are and you are utterly confident that you can predict her behavior absolutely we’ve known her since she was a baby and we also know they do not view electricity the way we do they don’t logically think oh I can step over it or get under it they view it as a wall can you hear it what’s that her new new she’s if you could if you quiet you can hear it yes what is that that’s her it’s almost like a purring noise for a cat but it’s her she makes because she’s she’s super content and she’s sucking on her tongue right now I thought it was an engine somewhere or something that is actually coming from the pool – Beth’s coming from her she’s clearly really close to mark how do you think Auggie sees him Agee sees him as her mother and father together really and companion so this is all about ID thinking of him as kin right since eight weeks later G as long as she can remember Marc trains animals for the movie industry and eighteen years ago he was asked to find a polar bear for a film he’d heard about a cub that was being hand reared by staff at a zoo as her mother was getting too old Ali was the 11th baby born with this mother so this mother couldn’t properly care for her so mark took her on and trained her for the film but he didn’t expect their relationship to develop in the way it did it’s my job and it’s what I had to do and then as I’m doing it we became very very attached to her so tell me what you feel about your relationship with Agee it’s just a really special bond I love her a lot I can’t say she loves me she really is bonded to me she loves him there you go so we have a really wonderful relationship and I would never change that for anything we knew when we got her that it’s a commitment we make for the rest of her life mark became a parental figure for Aggie from a very early age when she’s two months old she barely walking and I became the middle of the night wake up because she’s yelling and go down and I fed her and spent time with her and then she’d go back to sleep and then I’d go back to sleep and then I’d wake up again early in the morning and do the same thing over again so I spent a lot of time with her and do you think that was the key to having her bombed with you oh absolutely the more time you spend with him the closer their bond is what would you say cuz I’ve got to ask you does she not belong in the wild she couldn’t be in the wild if she wanted to she was born in captivity you can’t take it’s very difficult to take an animal in captivity and then turn it loose in the wild doesn’t seem to work very well [Music] whatever you think of this situation mark has an incredibly close bond with Aggie and even though she is a fully grown polar bear with the strength to kill with one blow he’s never felt in danger around her and it seems this has all been made possible because he hand reared her from a very young age to find out how this works I’m meeting Jason

Goldman from the University of Southern California certainly for a mammal like a bear you know we’re not necessarily born with an expectation of what mom is supposed to look like or what sort of other members of our species are supposed to look like or even if we are it’s probably very very easily sort of overridden so if this young polar bear for example only had experience with other humans particularly with this one human then it stands to reason that they would develop this kind this kind of relationship that it would look to this human as a parental figure but if you took a mature polar bear who perhaps I’ve never had any experience with humans then you’d probably get a different kind of a pattern probably I’d say definitely yeah so hand rearing and training a dangerous animal from a young age can result in a close bond and it’s likely Aggies temperament plays a part but occasionally this kind of connection can happen entirely by accident to meet my next Odd Couple I’ve traveled to South Africa and a small farm near Hood’s forest on the edge of the Kruger

National Park here at her home on the banks of the blyde river surely Zubair is making tea for Jessica who she looks after like a daughter surely what kind of tea are you making her I’m making a rooibos tea with lukewarm water and some brown sugar so why Rolle pushed a with sugar Roy was tea is very healthy for so she has 20 liters of this a day 20 litres of the stuff every day you’re kept busy aren’t you yes yes but it’s not doing it for a baby you know uh-huh and in my eyes discos never grown up because she’s she’s 13 it’s not right he’s 13 but she stole the baby go something tells me you love it though oh it’s my laughs the bond there is just so strong and I haven’t got kids of my own so the bond between us is so strong can I keep you company while you feed her the Roy Bush tea yes I know and you see these Jessica yeah she’s an outdoor you see isn’t she they’re good-looking look Sarah versus Jesus yes jessica is a hippopotamus Shirley and her husband Tony took her in when she was separated from her mother as a newborn are you thirsty jeez she’s 13 it’s just one more bottle alright look at those teeth it’s definitely nights Roy Bush TIA ah that’s it you want me to do it yes please oh good lord okay here you go now do I squeeze it or so she just no she just sucks Wow Weezer’s the relationship that Tony and Shirley have with Jessica is unique this is the only place in the world I could ever get this close to a hippo can you feel you actually relaxing I’ve never experienced anything like this I’m just a little bit cautious I guess hippos can be extremely dangerous and they kill more people than any other mammal in Africa yeah so tell me about how you came to have Jessica in the first place how did it happen well we found during the year 2000 with the floods and she was washed away and her mother rice and them well she washed out just in front of her house so rain down and our tester how small was she she was premature and she still had on him the little cord okay it’s a she had been born the floods happen and she got washed up what happened then we took her into the house and Tony with his game ranging experience he actually knew the formula to make it like a mother’s milk and that was the first thing that we actually gave to her so you didn’t have a chance to reunite her with her mother obviously no she never you really knotted with her mom what probably makes this relationship work is a process called imprinting where an animal forms a very strong bond with the first living thing it sees as Jessica was washed away from her mother as soon as she was born it’s likely that Tony and Shirley were the first thing she saw so do you think she’s imprinted on you or on Tony I think well it’s it’s it’s 50/50 right she sees us as her parents yeah your bond is stronger than I expected it to be you know I don’t see Jessica’s a HIPAA I’ve actually got a psychological problem with it oh you’re so in love with her is that I can’t see is that I mean when I want to hug her I just hug mm-hmm wherever girl she’ll be following me and wherever she goes are we following her Jessica also regularly wanders off back into the wild she’s not in captivity at all if Jessica wanted to leave she could be and rise and beat now but she always comes home and she always comes back sometimes she sleeps on the porch with a dog and Tony and Shirley will even give her a massage [Music] but at dinnertime she pops into the kitchen to eat with the family all like is the lack of my leafy leafy oh good on the menu tonight it’s green beans you’ve got it you’ve got the knack huh [Music] she wants to go out now when she’s finished eating she goes on her way Tony an ex game Ranger has enough experience to know not to try and stop her you read the signs didn’t you Tony you were like right she wants to go out there’s no keeping her in yes because at the end of the day you do see her as a wild animal still I’ll see Jessica as a wild animal I don’t keep any I do whatever sure to do okay we be out with her here I went today I just sorta sitting out there although jessica is happy to let me feed her from behind the counter she is still capable of charging if I get too close she does a normal hippo life but she she she she is a life with us as well she goes to them they come to her she was a normal life she still goes out with the wild hippos that are further down the river that’s correct and upstream as well so do you think this beauty is going to be able to meet with wild male hippos and have a calf of her own do you think it’s possible I don’t think it’s possible Jessica were like you know it’s possible it will happen within two years Jessica will never call for one and I’m a contact you know you better if I think you should come down again you better Tonio cos I need to see this young lady with a graph okay manage agree Fozzy J’s it seems that Jessica imprinted on Tony and Shirley when she

appeared on their riverbank just after she was born and that’s why she’s still so attached to them even as a 13 year old adult hippo our next story is of a human animal bond that seems to be something completely different as they were both fully grown when they met in Los Angeles California [Music] I’ve come here to meet Dominic Errol er three years ago he was befriended by a goose named Maria did you get a good night’s sleep okay Maria always seems pleased to see him how are you I’m gonna take a walk we’re going to have a little moment by themselves want to meet my friends hi but is a little less enamored of strangers I’m just gonna check you out the secret is just stand there it’s a sense of you a cutie the crew need checking out – you know – doesn’t she Maria didn’t always live here in the zoo up until two years ago her home was a park in Central LA where Dominic used to go for his regular morning walk so how did you first meet I’m walking around Echo Park Lake I’m just about finished and coming in delete one of the park employees by the officer he asked me on the shoulder he says ain’t Dominic you know you’re being stalked when you’re walking around the lake and I said like yeah what are you talking about because this is a big city park there’s gangs and stuff hanging around there so he points to this goose about 50 feet away and he just says her name’s Maria he laughed he thought it was funny but I looked at Maria and Maria was just which is glaring at me just glaring at me and I just waved said hi Maria how you doing Maria and I thought it was kind of cute I left came back the next morning and Maria came right to me right in front of me and just looked up so innocently and I just fell in love just like that you’re my friend and within a matter of just a few days from her just circulating around me as I go took the lead position so Maria would always walk in front leading the way the pair quickly became inseparable [Music] when you fall in love with a goose you got to be aware of what you’re getting involved with but their loyalty is phenomenal you remember they bond for life so I basically feel like I have a certain sense of responsibility for the local residents they became something of a celebrity couple one time we had a hundred people marching behind us as we’re walking around the lake and we’re singing Maria songs and I mean it became such a festive thing that was really remarkable it was like the Michael Jackson of the blue squirrel [Music] in 2011 the park authorities decided to drain Echo Park Lake part of a two-year renovation program for a safety and survival maria was moved to disease where staffs who discovered that she may have been missin a m– we did a little Valentine’s thing on one of the local TV channels or something and it was a perfect relationship unusual relationship a man and the goose that Dominick and Maria and I think like a week or two after that the head bed here calls me up humorously says hey Dominick you got a problem and I said what status as well your girlfriend’s a boy so Maria became Mario Oh Mario is he showing off but the bond is as strong as ever you visit him every day is that right every day so it’s part of my daily schedule I love coming up here and hearing him you know it’s nice to have an animal wag its tail and go caca and you know it’s it’s great that’s the great thing about animals they want to be our friends right Mario but why did Mario want to be Dominic’s friend geese are well known for being a species that imprints in fact they were the first animals scientists studied when they were trying to understand the phenomenon but Dominic definitely wasn’t the first thing mario saw when he hatched dominic suspects that mario was a domestic goose that had been abandoned at the lake and so was looking for a new companion and he tell me and he determined I’m always safe to be with when he’s with me he feels safe he knows I’m I’m one of him Jason believes that even though Mario didn’t imprint on Dominic those crucial few hours for the goose after it hatched were significant imprinting has a what’s called a sensitive period it’s some you know so many hours 13 to 16 hours or so after birth and then it gets locked in so that that sort of representation of what mom was supposed to look like doesn’t change okay so you imprint and then that’s your representation for the rest of your life okay the rest of your life you know what mom looks like but Mario Mets Dominic when it was already an adult goose so what does that suggest so it’s possible if this is a case of imprinting it’s possible that Mario imprinted onto someone who looked a lot like Dominic when he was very young and Dominic may have certain facial characteristics or color of his hair or the shape of his facial hair whatever some something that Mario recognizes is familiar Mario has found in Dominic a companion he can rely on and like all geese he’s protective of what he’s got his little nips are getting a little stronger every time er but it’s that’s okay when he attacks someone it’s not so much that he’s trying to attack them to defend me but really he’s trying to keep me in other

words I’m his property Wow so if you would see his behavior he was basically showing all the other geese keep your distance this is mine any any goose that we get near that be feathers flying that’s where he would show the most aggressiveness we’re never going to find out exactly what happened in the early stages of Mario’s life but my money’s on the fact that he probably did imprint on an elderly gentleman that looks suspiciously like Dominick over there it just goes to show how strong and influenced your early life experiences will have on how you behave as an adult so the early life of an animal plays a huge role in how it might bond with us that first human it sees or lives with will impact on how it behaves in later life but in the next stage of my journey I’m going to meet three people who’ve managed to form lasting relationships with the most unpredictable animals by becoming part of the pack here at this privately owned wildlife park in South Africa the staff are using a unique method to try and inspire the public to care more about animals oral as me has managed to integrate herself with not one but four lions [Music] she’s known these animals since they were Cubs and she’s so confident they’ll be well behaved that at this park they’ll even allow people into the enclosure with them it’s a controversial setup even though there’s always other members of her team keeping watch but I’m intrigued to know how this relationship works and what she does to keep her Lions in check gotta say I never thought I’d get this close to male lions in my life do I say hello or do I just stand here I can’t see his eyes now you can say hello it’s been good to smell my hand yeah the fact that she needs to see their eyes points to just how unpredictable these animals can be I like being your breath on my hand that’s nice hi Joseph so three males and one female over there yeah you know them very well I take this yeah from this behavior what does he want to do with this pool there to kind of yeah hold on something a little bit bigger than me dude these liens are just 17 months old but they are big enough to do some serious damage if they choose to obviously if I was in here without you I would be a totally different story that’s why it is important to us to remember they are wild animals so their instincts can stay there when they’re younger we take them on walks around the park that’s Judith we have a very strong bond with this group how is it possible that you can have such a close relationship with essentially wild animals we respect them as wild animals just start off with I think that’s one of the points we don’t train them we don’t do anything like that so you basically need to earn their trust and the respect they’ve known me as a constant dominant finger in their life since they were babies and that’s why I’m able to go so up close to you okay so you’re mentioning a dominant figure which means that hierarchy is a play here understanding how these animals would normally behave in the wild so where are you in the pecking order and how do you establish that with lions albeit in captivity I think it’s just because we’ve been there since they were babies uh-huh and they’ve always been the grown-up so what’s John doing there I think yeah and

obviously they needed to have a figure that everything back in place and they are put back in place when they misbehave how’d you learn how to do that how did you just from interacting with them over time you learned their behavior you learned to read their looks and mood swings and their different personalities and then as a human you need to understand those in order not to get a swipe taken out of you he got me did he not too long ago yeah what happened I was a really hot day and he picked up on me feeling weaker and he grabbed me for a second nothing serious would they have a nice little scratch uh-huh and a few minutes later I fainted so he was obviously able to pick up on it before it happened so I should not be feeling a little bit weak right now or a little bit scared I need to cover let them know that I’m not feeling threatened by them because instinctively then I could react on that jeepers I wish I’m good to go after you telling me that anecdote about you feeling weak I’m now being a little I’m feeling a little bit more oh so he knows now you’re not allowed to do and he’s definitely trying now he’s not lying down now because he’s tired no I don’t know trying good clothes I’m aware of this I’m aware of this let’s just breathe what do you get out of this relationship and I’ve been so close with these lines I just feel privileged every single day you don’t get used to it mm-hmm big ones or small ones it’s just an animal you need to appreciate yeah and we definitely do [Music] or has clearly grown attached to these lions but if things go according to plan she won’t have this relationship with them forever the staff at the park are planning a very ambitious and untested project to do something that most people would consider impossible they want to release these hand-reared lions into the wild when they’re older I was under the impression that if any individuals are for release that you must have absolutely no contact with them that’s what we’re hoping to prove wrong because you have right now in South Africa more Lions in captivity than in the wild so if we can take the animals from this situation and prove that you can turn them wild again then we can be saving quite a few of them we believe it’s possible and we believe our intimate knowledge of these ones will help us achieve that goal and hopefully there’ll be our first ambassadors they’re amazing animals they really are are they perfect by behaving in a dominant manner or has found a way to sit amongst lions but as we’re only just beginning to understand these unpredictable animals I’d rather not repeat this experience any time soon the next person I’m meeting has had to find even more unusual methods to make sure his companion knows who’s boss this Odd Couple live in the heart of Texas near the town of Quinlan and they consist of a ton of Buffalo named Wild Thing and his owner a retired rodeo cowboy called RC bridges [Music] [Applause] [Music] ten years ago RC lost his sight in one eye forcing him to give up running his Buffalo ranch he sold his herd but decided to keep one of the calves whose mother had struggled to suckle him and it wasn’t long before the young cows behavior led to RC calling him wild thing are you seriously luckily our ceno’s had to come wild thing down do you ever get a little bit nervous going in with him no no no you’re totally used to it now I don’t think he’d hurt me if he does hurt me to be an accident really is that your is that sure of sort of your relationship or how on earth is it possible for you to even be in here with this huge animal a lot of training a lot of hours if I was to come in with you and what would happen here to thank you Oh what do I do with my hands right now just don’t put them in here that’s a good rule he likes to be brushed oh he loved brushing and the rougher you get the better he likes it now our scene you know it is a domesticated Buffalo you’ll never domesticate a Buffalo really know they’re they’re wild animal in this one is

probably a little more dangerous for you than a wild one because he would probably go out of his way to get you why Oh my property yeah we’re on somebody else’s property he probably won’t bother you [Music] Buffalo live in large herds and will aggressively defend themselves and members of their group when threatened but they also battle within the herd for status with a strict hierarchy at play and only the top males getting a chance to meet as RC found out this jostling for position starts when they are very young when he was a baby every morning I’d get up and he would attack me so I told my wife I’ve tried all my cattle tricks I’ve tried all my horse tricks nothing working I said I’m gonna get up in the morning I don’t care how much he kicked me and how much he horned me I’m gonna act like nothing’s happening I would bruise that from one end to the other but by the end of the day and it took me the whole day by the end of the day he was bored then he wanted to get everybody but me okay so it was almost sort of like eventually he just gave up on beating you around the place yeah but also you know they do live in very strict linear hierarchies so does that mean that he eventually saw you as the dominant male and that’s why he gave up oh I’m the dominant male yeah how do you establish dominance over Buffalo and how do you maintain that by not having fear you can’t have any fear in you you know I don’t have a choice about being the dominant if I’m not the dominant one I’m in trouble so you’ve established dominance so we know that in herds linear Hall through our keys he scared the bejesus out of me just chillin maintaining dominance over a calf was hard enough but now that wild thing weighs over a ton RC wouldn’t survive a beating so he’s had to find new ways to remind wild thing who’s the boss the wild things out here can that’s a gate or something I was trying to get through he can’t get out most of the time I can go over there and open it with one hand because i unlock it and I open and he thinks I’m really strong because he might have been there and I are too trying to get through that guy but I go over there and I just do it like it’s nothing to it and he really believes he’ll look at me and he’d go wow I can grab him by the horns and he thinks I got him you know I don’t have them but he thinks I have I’m good Lords this is where I’m dominant or out here they don’t like their horns mess well it is amazing you can there you can you know achieve that and even touch him the way you just did without him retaliating I can’t help thinking that every time he Rams the gate it’s like you are hogging too much of my time with our CEO back off there’s a lot of love I would have never thought this type of animal could feel love but he feels life he’s a spectacular animal there’s no question and Nike fees in the house and he needs to go to the bathroom he’ll go to the door if he’s in the wash if he’s in the house he goes into your house yeah and if he’s in the house and he’s go to the bathroom and he won’t use the bathroom in the house I need to see this go for it open your game if you have to shut the door [Music] this is definitely the most stupid thing I’ve ever done ever [Music] it’s coming in the house oh my gosh that is Larry he could still

reach up to me and sniff me you know I’m a little bit scared wow it’s got really beautiful eyes I can’t get over how gentle he is with everything or see well that’s what amazes me about him because I didn’t teach him to be gentle he just happens to be real gentle in the house and very aggressive and very mean on the outside of the house does this will boil down to sort of territory the paddock is his territory and he knows that you this is your territory and you’re the dominant male so he needs to be respectful of that I think that’s what it is I think when he’s in the house he knows this is my area and he needs to respect my area I heard something get in October you see so the man he went outside again it was trashing the place can I follow you or is that too dangerous all day long I can be between you are you sure mm-hmm you never told him to be trained for one day better it’s by ever had it I have no clue to how you would potty train about but so you got to realize he knows that everything I do is for him I’d never do anything that’s against him it’s always for his protection erfect for his happiness he’s an exceptional Buffalo then he’s gonna come in here and eat with me he’s holding him with his lips are you gonna have a look at this I would have thought that I would see such a huge powerful unpredictable animal behaved so gingerly in home all the ornaments around his sniffs gently he’s literally tiptoeing around our C’s home it’s just completely surreal to watch RC manages to maintain a bizarre appearance of domestic bliss with Wild Thing spending time watching TV mowing the lawn [Music] and even going for a swim with him and because wild thing sinks Arcee is the dominant male in his little herd it certainly looks like he’ll always tread softly around him strong leadership can enable you to maintain a close bond with some unpredictable animals but I have come to South Africa to meet a man who’s worked his way into an incredibly sophisticated animal hierarchy by doing it the animals way I want to find out what he’s learned about animal behavior from his close interactions with some of the most

intimidating animals yes hyenas renowned for their brutal scavenging ways hyenas can weigh twice as much as an adult wolf [Music] so I’m quite relieved to have a cage between me and this clan of spotted hyenas you know what it is easy to see how hyenas can be a little bit unnerving I mean they’re built for power with their strange top-heavy postures and when you think about their high-pitched screeches and laughs and the way they scavenge aggressively they can seem quite sly and cunning but actually all of these traits point to a highly intelligent animal Hey and that’s why what Kevin Richardson does is all the more surprising kevin has worked with large predators for most of his adult life but a few years ago he set up his own Private Reserve so that he could fully integrate himself into this clan of hyenas he did this to study their behavior and change people’s perceptions of what is a much feared animal the hyenas live in a large enclosure but they’re far from tame these animals have a very complex and fluid social structure all governed by dominance and how each one finds its place in the pecking order if Kevin isn’t careful there’s always an individual that’ll try and get one over on him how on earth did this come about this relationship you clearly have with these hyenas now Korea actually started with hyenas quite a long time ago you know they became my passion and pretty much yeah I wanted to know everything about them okay let’s just to get let them get over the their whole thing is this important for you to keep an eye on yeah very important they’re dominating this individual individual okay they’re trying to get him away and he’s his posture is submissive there yes submissive yeah good so he’s fine I didn’t notice anything different than immediately you’re chatting away and you stop anywhere okay something has changed did you learn from your mistakes did you get the hardware did you yes I’ve learned with hyenas it’s always the hard way uh-huh they react they bite you and then they ask questions later let’s put it into perspective for you I’ll be working with large carnivores for 15 years I’ve been hospitalized five times by hyena and none belong I got button very badly about six weeks ago though why now you know thought it was a good opportunity to try and jostle for for status in this plan so he went from me in a very aggressive way put me on my arm and on my leg and and that triggered the rest of the clan to want to

participate in the whole thing there’s probably a reason why a lot of people around the world don’t work with these guys I wanted to ask you about you know where they see you in their clan are you a hyena in their eyes their behavior with me as treating me as an individual in their clan is exactly how they treat one another and and that’s why I get my fair share of bots because they don’t hold back so why on earth would you want to do this when you’re aware that it can be dangerous what I feel is the risk has actually been mitigated over the years by knowing the individuals and by no means so I just say hey I’m the high you know Whisperer I can go in with any hyena group and do what I do with these guys this is a relationship that’s been developing with some individuals over 14 years where you go look at that I mean come on it’s like if you’re behaving with him like if he’s a dog you know once all the energy dissipates and once they they okay with you guys and they they know they’ve smelt you up and they see that you’re not a threat yeah and they’re calmed down these animals are just it’s just it’s incredible what you can do with them I mean this guy what he wants his chin scratched I can see that Kevin has worked very hard to earn the hyenas trust and it allows him to play with them in a way I never thought was possible but even this time spent playing together gives him a chance to learn about their social structure and how he can maintain his position within us okay so I mean all this kind of thing that I’m doing here he’s researching my dominance said does the clock play but he’s also feeling that I’m not you know submitting to something he does and then I’m actually playing with him in a dominant way so I’m doing things to him that he wouldn’t normally allow other individuals to do to him that he was more dominant he was more dominant of so so it is interesting up I’m using a fiction who’s coming to me for love and a tickle and shouldn’t scratch and all of the above that I’m dominating him and I’m not hitting him no I don’t have to it’s a bit of a psychological game what do you get out of it then do you think why were you driven to do this with these hyenas I’ll tell you what I mean this is enriching for me as it is for them I mean the fact that I’m tickling this hyena and his chin and he’s using I’m using him as a resting pose Kevin yeah it’s awesome I

mean don’t get me wrong it’s I still get a kick out of seeing my buddies however the other thing that I really hope it does is it shows people a different side of them and and hopefully people watching a program like this would go away and say you know what I never knew hyenas were like that I actually actually like them they’re actually very similar to my dog in a way it’s fascinating watching you interacting with these kind of animals you know as you said that do have such a sort of creepy reputation fearsome reputation and they are absolutely docile with you and so affectionate and they don’t seem to mind at all it’s quite surreal to watch to watch that and boy so he’s five you just let me know one at any point something like this is just a little I cannot believe it it’s completely mine I know you’re a captive hyena but this is ridiculous it’s completely fine it’s thrilling for me I can’t believe I’m so close to one and they’re so gentle good can I touch noses with you hello seeing the good side I really am yeah I want to be lured into a false sense of security but you’re just adorable right now [Music] kevin has an extraordinary relationship with these hyenas by combining his knowledge of each individual and their position in the hierarchy and with his ability to assert his dominance where needed it seems that kevin has truly become one of the gang and in doing so he’s proving that hyenas are not as intimidating as many people would have you believe there is definitely another side to these animals they are incredibly gentle I get a real feeling of affection from this particular one who’s liking the good back of the ear scratch right now but they’re also quite timid they’re quite shy some of them when they approach the cage you know their eyes are really wide and they approach very .

cautiously but every now and then they will bear their canines again I guess that’s another instinctual behavior to remind me hey I’m quite fearsome too you know I’m quite tough but they are fantastic animals and you really get a sense of their individual personalities this is just thrilling it really is the nature of the human-animal couples I’ve met so far is complex but the people involved are attempting to fulfill a very human instinct to care for others fine companions and better understand the world around us but to find out what we can learn from looking at all these odd couples I’m speaking to professor Hal Hertzog who studied human animal relationships for more than two decades what do you think we can learn about cross-species relationships in all their shapes and sizes I think what they tell us it is the commonality that we have with other species that that at a deep level animals have the same sorts of abilities to form relationships to form attachments to play and they have the same abilities that we have the bottom line for me is this I think in our relationships with other species what we see is a reflection of human nature in some ways it’s purest form and the best of human nature and the worst of human nature not to me is the thing that’s really fascinating about this whole area of study there is one last .

partnership I want to investigate because for me it truly reflects the best of what the human animal bond can be like not only do both sides benefit but here wild animals have chosen to instigate a relationship with us I’ve traveled all the way to the south of Brazil and the coastal town of Laguna to see it for myself [Music] here in this Inlet on the Atlantic coast the locals have formed a relationship over many generations with one specific group of wild dolphins the Dolphins help the fishermen catch their fish in fact the fishermen in this Bay don’t even throw their nets unless the Dolphins are present so odd a whole bunch of man standing in their waiters doing absolutely nothing just standing there there’s a dolphin there’s two dolphins they’re definitely surfacing but they’re just standing there doing nothing still this is extremely peculiar what is going on makes me think that something’s gonna happen over here [Music] amazing [Music] okay I’m beginning to get what’s going on for one month of the year schools of mullet migrate up the coast the Dolphins heard the schools into the shoreline exactly where the fishermen are then at the right moment the Dolphins make a signal usually a distinctive dive and the fishermen throw their nets to catch the fish beneath absolutely clear that the Dolphins are calling the shots here these lads are doing absolutely nothing they just stand there with their nets and it’s only when the dolphin makes a very clear signal that they deploy them so the Dolphins are telling the fisherman how to fish that’s novel and completely crazy I’ve never seen anything like this this is the most intricate type of interaction between two completely different species I have ever seen and it’s just wonderful to watch because the fishermen are absolutely focused on getting their cue from a dolphin and they have fun while they’re at it don’t they there’s a fabulous energy on this beach they they really enjoy working with the dolphin with the help of the Dolphins these fishermen are extremely successful just a few miles down the coast the same mullet schools migrate but because no dolphins help the

fishermen there they hardly catch any fish here the Dolphins have developed a relationship over generations that’s resulted in a thriving local industry I meet up with local scientist Fabio Dara Georgia from the University of Santa Catarina to find out exactly what’s going on this is such a surreal scene there’s a dolphin that is Koba it’s a well-known individual yeah the most famous dolphins we have no thing we have here Fabio watching this from the shore it is absolutely mind-boggling yeah it’s fascinating what exactly is going on here yeah actually the doping are bringing the mullets close to the fishermen so is that what he’s doing right exactly he’s in the middle of the channel and probably the mullets is here then when the dolphin makers receive the signal the fisherman you know that’s the right moments to through the night the fishermen are benefiting why on earth of the Dolphins doing this Oh ease back there to him the fisherman through the nets in the water he’s also pushing the mullets to the Dolphins much easy for dolphins get the knowledge in the next ascending summers are never gonna be escaping in that season the bounty that the dolphin can enjoy exactly so it’s a mutual symbiotic relationship going on dictated by the dolphin right yeah I mean they call the shots exactly yeah come on I want to go I mean how hard could it be really [Music] with flippy put your teeth in my mouth long skirt go thank you thank you Oh defrost later I can’t believe it shared a thought that was utter rubbish great bullets there’s something so incredibly special going on here I mean we’ve known for a long time that dolphins are intelligent and we have so many counts of dolphin human interactions of all sorts but this this dolphin human interaction is very real and it’s very genuine and it’s incredibly complex on both sides it’s a whole series of intricate behavioral cues going on and these are wild dolphins they’ve chosen to come here and form a relationship with these fishermen that’s mind-blowing [Music] I’ve been on a remarkable journey in these two programs and I’ve encountered relationships between different species that have truly amazed me many of them have been formed as a result of powerful natural instincts that seem to endure no matter what the circumstances or they’ve come about through a growing understanding some people have of the animal kingdom and what’s clear is that animals relate to one another and to us in a far more complex way than was previously thought possible but it’s also been an extraordinary reminder of how compelled we humans are to have animals in our lives I think the reason we’re so

fascinated by other animals could be down to the fact that in all these unfamiliar shapes and sizes and all these different species we recognize familiar traits and behaviors and I think that’s what feeds our fascination and compels us to want to know more so if we’re lucky enough to share a mutualistic bond with another species so two animals that took billions of years to evolve finding a common ground respectful of each other even communicating with each other well that’s pretty remarkable isn’t it.


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