As humans, we like to think of ourselves as unique in the animal world, with the ability to think and feel in ways that other species can’t. But every day, photos and videos appear on the internet revealing just how wrong we are about our special qualities.
Whether it’s dogs that know just when to wake their owners up for work or cats that can sense their owners’ emotions, animals can take part in our emotional world far more than we give them credit for.
And this sensitivity doesn’t just extend to domestic animals that know and love us well, as a heartwarming story from at an Indiana Zoo showed.
Natasha Handshoe, who lives in Topeka, Indiana, was visiting the nearby Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend with some of her girlfriends a couple of years ago for a Wine on the Wild Side event, which helps raise money for the zoo while giving adults the chance to hang out with the animals.
At the time, Handshoe was 27 weeks pregnant, at the tail end of second trimester, and definitely had a baby bump to show for it. While making the rounds, the women happened to pass by the popular Amur tiger (commonly known as Siberian tiger) enclosure. These tigers are the largest of the great cats and are right at home in the snowy Indiana winters, as in the wild, they survive in the coldest parts of Russia.
Natasha’s cousin Brittany Osborne was also there, filming their encounters with the animals. She posted the video with the tiger on Facebook after realizing something very special had happened. As Osborne told WTTV: “I began filming her because I thought it would be entertaining. Then we all realized that the tiger was very interested in her baby bump.”
SO SWEET! A female tiger took a particular interest in this pregnant woman's belly at the Potawatomi Zoo. Watch as she snuggles up against the glass — it's adorable! <3STORY: http://bit.ly/2sY4b5A
تم النشر بواسطة FOX 5 Atlanta في الجمعة، ٢٣ يونيو ٢٠١٧
As the female tiger, whose name is Morgana, approached Handshoe, Handshoe’s friends weren’t quite sure what to think. After all, it was a massive, majestic predator on the other side of the glass. As Handshoe approached, smiling at the great beast, the tiger came closer, seemingly curious about her belly. One her friends commented, “I don’t know whether to laugh or be scared!”
But the longer the human mom-to-be lingered with the mama tiger, it became clear that something else was going on entirely. One of her friends wondered aloud, “do you think it knows you’re pregnant?” Another one encouraged her to “show it your belly!” When Handshoe gently pressed her baby bump up against the glass, the tiger turned its cheek and rubbed up against it.
As Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil of Tufts University explained to PetMD: “It’s a friendly, relaxing behavior […] head rubbing is a cat’s way of marking its people and its environment and grouping them together with the same scent.” When Handshoe saw what was happening, she lost all her fear. “I do believe the tiger knew I was pregnant just by the way it was acting,” she told WTTV.
Cousin Brittany Osborne was delighted to have been right there to witness and film this touching meeting of mothers. “I am so excited that I was able to capture that sweet moment for Baby Handshoe.”
Staff from the Potawatomi Zoo were so happy to see one of their most treasured animals go viral too, commenting on the video: “this is why the zoo is here, to help make connections to nature!”
In September 2017, a happy, healthy baby Handshoe was born to her very proud parents. This little one will definitely need to make the trip to the zoo herself one day and meet the mommy tiger that wished her well before she even entered the world.
At least one animal here at the Zoo is enjoying the fresh snow! We’re happy Morgana the Amur tiger enjoyed her snow roll, but what about you? Are you still enjoying winter or are you ready for spring?