SC CARES: When animals experience sadness

By Cindy Hedrick

For The Sun News

Cira the worlf
Cira the worlf Submitted

Here at SC CARES the creatures that reside here come in all shapes, sizes and species. Some of these animals have a lifespan that should reach beyond our human time on the earth with tortoises and parrots that could live to be 100 years old. Others, however, we will have to bury as their time is not as long. The original SC CARES wolf pack has reached their 10 year birthday and we’ve lost two of our sisters, the pack of five is now down to three. Wolves can live 8 to 15 years in captivity but genetic makeup plays a big part in their longevity as well. Our wolf pack was bred at a road side menagerie so I would not be shocked to find out that genetically they may not be in the best circumstances. To have them 10 years is nothing to be upset about but of course we’d love to enjoy their company as long as possible. If you’re reading our stories you probably already know that animals just like us have emotions. Sentient creatures who feel happiness, contentment, fear and sorrow are no different from their human friends, so when one of their family members or friends dies they suffer loss just like us.

Last month, the then alpha female started being dominated by the beta (middle ranking) wolf. We weren’t sure why this overthrow was taking place. In wolf packs the hierarchy is of utmost importance because instinctively to survive in the wild there must be order. In just a few days we understood, Cira the alpha was dying. We saw no symptoms or any change in her physically or behaviorally so we had no idea anything was going on with her. The pack knew and the beta had to take her place as the top ranking wolf so the pack would stay strong. Cira passed during the night and we went into their enclosure several hours later to take her out for burial. Captain Jack, the alpha and only male, was not happy about us removing her. So much so that it was a very intense couple of minutes getting her out. Once we removed her body the pack started pacing and watching toward the graveyard. Captain Jack in particular didn’t stop for a couple of hours. The pack howled in what sounded to me like a very sad song. After Cira’s body was laid to rest, Captain finally stopped and laid down in the exact spot where Cira died. It was astonishing and sad all at the same time to know they were mourning and heartbroken and there was nothing I could do to sooth them. Presently they all seem back to normal with Calypso as the alpha female now.

Many of you have likely witnessed animals expressing emotions maybe in your dog or cat. They all “feel” the same emotions that we do, maybe except worry since they tend to live in the moment. I personally strive to live that same way, so in many respects the animals are have accomplished managing their feelings better than I have. They may not be able to express their feelings in the same way we as humans do but I have no doubt that they “feel”. To meet the creatures of SC CARES please call for your guided tour at 843-546-7893 or visit our website to learn more about us!