Animal Communities

Did you know that we have more in common with animals than we think we do? There are several similarities. For example, animals can feel sad or happy just like we can. They have basic needs for food, shelter, and love and companionship just like we do. However, there is one thing we tend to overlook. Many animals live in groups. Just like we have families, animals have families too and often live with one another their entire life. There are, in fact, six different species that live in groups. Today, I’m going to cover only three of them. I will talk about lions, wolves, and elephants. Keep in mind that there is always the occasional lion, elephant, or wolf that lives on their own, but a majority of them live and hunt together. Let’s begin by talking about the lion.

I probably don’t need to describe to you what a lion looks like. You’ve seen them on TV or in zoos. So, I want to focus on the community of lions rather than the scary, nightmarish roar of a lion. A lion pack, called a pride, is usually made up of 15 members, a majority of them consisting of females and their young. Either one or a small group of males will join the pride for a short time until another one takes over. While males are territorial, the females do most of the hunting at night. They work together in teams. When you think of the resting period for a group of lions, picture a large group of fluffy, big cats snuggled together purring and rubbing heads. Lions are social cats that enjoy good fellowship with one another. Another social animal is an elephant.

I remember riding an elephant at a circus one day. I couldn’t believe how large it was, and the trunk reminded me of something leafy like a plant. But elephants were not really meant to be in a circus. In fact, they are meant to live together. An African elephant family group is made up of 8-10 individuals with older females taking up the leader position. On the other hand, Asian elephant groups tend to average at about 4-8 members. While male elephants (bulls) live on their own, females and their young (cows), similar to the lion, live together in what is called a heard. Normally, all of the elephants are related. Of course, there is the occasional elephant that is not related that joins a family. While most of the elephant family is female, young males stay with the mother and group until they are driven out when they reach sexual maturity. Elephants teach and nurture one another, and while females tend to be more nurturing, males are more competitive, teaching other bulls how to hunt and fight. Along with being social animals, elephants are intelligent. I know that, when I think of elephants, I think of animals with good memory. Perhaps you’ve heard this, but elephants mourn the loss of another elephant.

And finally, let’s talk about the wolf. Wolves are feared by humans, and because of this, we tend to destroy them because they do kill domestic animals. However, as we kill them off, they continue to grow more and more extinct. While they are feared, wolves do not normally attack humans unless they are hungry due to lack of prey. They live and hunt in packs of 6-10. There is a hierarchy in this group with a dominant male and a female not far behind in dominance. Normally, the dominant couple are the only ones allowed to breed while other adult wolves are known as babysitters for the pups. They often take care of them by bringing food for them or staying behind while others hunt. Wolves have different types of howls, and each howl represents something else. A howl of a lone wolf may be a howl signaling the rest of its pack members. There is also a howl that members from different packs will use to send a territorial message to the other pack. Plus, wolves are like domestic dogs. When one howls, the rest of them join in.

Lions, elephants, and wolves all live social lives. This proves that animals care about family just as much as humans do. I guess it is the basic need for affiliation, need to fit in and to survive. So, next time you think of these animals, perhaps you will think of a close-knit family.

http://www.defenders.org/african-lion/basic-facts

http://www.elephanttag.org/general/general_social.html

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/wolf/

http://teacher.scholastic.com/wolves/gabout3.htm

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