Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Horses Who Sing

And Whales Who Play: Hummingbirds must hum, as we all know (see Music Comes to B'nai Israel), because they don't know the words. Horses, on the other hand, can surely sing - because they do indeed know the words.

Nov. 5, 2019 | Iceland horses play in their paddock of a stud in Wehrheim
near Frankfurt, Germany.
(Michael Probst/AP)

Where and when, Abq Jew hears you ask, did horses learn to sing? A long time ago, Abq Jew must inform you. Horses learned how to sing (and, importantly, what to sing) from their ancestors - stegosauruses.

And this we know from two of Abq Jew's quickly-classic, scientifically-based blog posts - 2018's It's Noah Time Again! and 2017's Yontif Ends, Creation Begins.

Stegosauruses had beautiful singing voices, and they
knew all the words to The Seekers' greatest hits.

We all know that whales can sing. Here's a photo of a baby beluga just singing his heart out. Trying out for The Voice?

This particular baby beluga, however also has athletic talent. As shown in this video, which has been making its rounds across the Internet.

And, just as Jim Croce (see Remembering Jim Croce, MOT) sang - this baby beluga has a name.

Hvaldimir is a male beluga whale that fishers near Hammerfest in northern Norway noticed in April 2019 wearing a camera harness; after being freed from the harness, the whale remained in the area and appeared used to humans. 
Speculation that he had been trained as a Russian spy whale led to his being dubbed Hvaldimir, from Norwegian: hval (whale) and Vladimir Putin.

Hvaldimir's Story
from his foundation's website

A lone and friendly beluga whale with a harness attached to its body was first reported on 26th of April 2019 off of Tufjord, in Finnmark, in northern Norway. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries sent experts to respond to this sighting and to assist the animal in disentanglement ...

The team first tried to unfasten the harness from a boat, but the operation failed each time due to challenging access to the clips. Eventually, and after entering the cold waters with the whale, they managed to detach the tight strap.

The harness was labeled with 
"Equipment of Saint Petersburg"
and had an equipment mount attachment
on the harness. 

Based on these elements and geographic considerations, it was speculated that the whale was a lost 'spy' animal, trained and used by the Russian Navy.

In the following days, the whale was seen again in the harbor of Tufjord, both by the dock and following local fishing boats cruising in and out the harbor. The locals ... were instantly charmed by the adorable whale, and special interactions with people started occurring.

On April 30th, the whale followed a sailboat during its entire 5-hour cruise to Hammerfest. The whale has remained in the harbor of Hammerfest since then.

However, is the story as "fun" as it seemed? 

Based on the harness and highly sociable behavior, it appeared clear that the whale had been used for human benefits and was most likely conditioned to be hand-fed. If so, such behavioral conditioning could have resulted in the whale being dependent on people and not able to successfully hunt and feed itself.

In fact, a week of behavioral observations and multi-sensor camera tagging (www.cats.is) conducted by scientists from Norwegian Orca Survey (NOS) failed to reveal any successful feeding. The whale's body was also judged to be lean by international experts.

NOS, therefore, urged the need to take action to ensure the whale's welfare and survival before the situation reached a critical point of no return.

The organization developed and submitted feeding protocols to the authorities, and secured the financial resources necessary to initiate the intervention. The first donation of funds to support the emergency response was the Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund (USA).

The local [Hammerfest] community has been incredibly welcoming, supportive and eager to help Hvaldimir. People provided us with additional logistical and financial resources that were crucial to initiate the feeding program as fast as possible.

In order to boost Hvaldimir's protection and health,
a code of conduct was also introduced.

The harbor authority further restricted access to the docks, which instantly promoted the whale to spend more time exploring his natural environment and reduced his time roaming in the busy path of the inner harbor.

The harbor of Hammerfest remains a busy location with boat traffic and was listed as one of the most polluted harbors in Norway. A long-term solution is urgently needed and most importantly, a relocation to a safer environment should be considered.

However, maintaining him in his natural environment will fully rely on the financial resources available to us.

With contributions from the world,
Hvaldimir's story could be a happy one.

Please contribute to save his future.

So, you may ask -

First of all ...

Nancy Pelosi was right (big surprise).
All roads lead to Putin.
Even roads under the sea.

 But also ...

Judaism stands firmly for
the ethical treatment of animals.  

In her article in My Jewish Learning, Rabbi Jill Jacobs makes it clear that

The concept of Tzaar Baalei Hayim
demands that we take animal suffering seriously.
Beyond simply prohibiting cruelty to animals, Jewish tradition associates care for animals with righteousness. Within the Torah, the commandment to send a mother bird away before taking eggs or chicks from her nest is one of the few commandments that promises long life to those who fulfill it. The book of Proverbs comments that, "A righteous person knows the needs of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruelty." 

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