There is a danger in attributing human-like motivations to animal behavior. We have no way, after all, of really knowing what is going on in a non-human’s mind. Controlled experiments can sometimes strongly suggest intent, but it is difficult to be sure. Every now and then, though, there is just no escaping the obvious.
One such case is reported in a new study by a team of scientists from the Czech University of Life Sciences at the Voděradské Bučiny National Nature Reserve. The team was actually researching African swine fever protection measures until their motion-triggered camera caught something amazing.
The researchers observed a female adult wild boar coming to the quick rescue of two young boars caught in a trap. The adult boar’s response was quick, and it was smart. If its actions were not enough to convince an observer of prosocial behavior, it is difficult to interpret its signs of distress during the rescue as anything but empathy for the terrified captives.
The box trap had two sides held open by a wire. When the wire is tripped by an animal inside, the walls swing down into place and are held by logs that roll down from the top of the box. Essentially, the box is “locked” shut.