Pigs exhibit altruistic behavior in freeing trapped congeners, but their motivation may be pure selfishness

Pigs exhibit altruistic behavior in freeing their trapped congeners, but their motivation may be pure selfishness. Experiments conducted by a team of researchers from Germany and Austria have shown this. Pigs were divided into eight groups and placed in separate pens. Next to each pen were two compartments separated by doors that could only be opened from the main pen. One pig was locked in one of the compartments, leaving the other one empty.

The results of the experiment showed that the pigs remaining in the main pen released the captive within 20 minutes 85% of the time. They came to the rescue in less than three minutes. They also opened the second compartment, but less often (69% of the time) and more slowly (on average after almost four minutes). It turned out that the pigs released captives who actively communicated their distress, for example, by squealing, more often and more quickly. Such captives were released 2.4 times more often than their quiet relatives.

However, the scientists cautioned against too bold interpretations of the experimental results. Perhaps the pigs released the captives simply because they like to push and pull all the objects in the area of accessibility, and opening the door gave them pleasure. To clarify the results of the study, it is necessary to conduct new experiments in which releasing the captives would be difficult or unpleasant for the remaining animals in the pen. If in this case, too, the pigs will be eager to release a congener, then we can conclude that their behavior is indeed altruistic.

Pigs are intelligent animals. They have the ability to learn, memorize their nicknames and respond to human commands. They are also good at navigating mazes and can use mirrors to find hidden objects. Some pigs even know how to play soccer and video games.

Interestingly, altruism in pigs can be due to pure selfishness. This is supported by studies of other animal species. For example, squirrels and marmots also exhibit altruistic behavior, but they may be motivated by a desire to preserve the genes of their own kind. Thus, pigs may release their kin to strengthen their position in the group or to improve their chances of survival.

Pigs, like many other animals, have social skills. They live in groups where hierarchies and various social bonds are established. Studies show that pigs can recognize other individuals, remember them, and even show preferences for certain pigs. This suggests that they have the ability for social interaction and emotional connections.

However, despite all of the aforementioned qualities, pigs are still mistreated in industrial animal husbandry. They are kept in cramped cages, deprived of the opportunity to express their natural behavioral needs and suffer from stress and disease. This raises serious ethical questions and calls for changes in the way pigs and other animals are treated.

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