PiU (samedi) wrote,
PiU
samedi

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the myth of sisyphus ... or castoridae

A beaver was admitted to the vet hospital last week after being shot in the face. The story I heard is that a local resident mistook it for a hare or other garden pest and opened fire before getting a proper identification. The beaver was brought in for treatment, diagnosed with severe brain damage and limited nerve responses, and put in the care of a few fourth-year students. Daily medication, exercise, and showers were prescribed by the hospital's exotic/wild animal specialist. One of the students, however, thought it would be a better idea to fill a tub for the beaver to get some practice swimming.

The student left for a few minutes to grab a few forms and found the beaver dead on her return. Given the delicate state of its nervous system there's a very strong chance that the beaver had been unable to hold its head above water and subsequently drowned. This particular student had other ideas. According to her, the beaver committed suicide instead. Personally, I'm more willing to believe the first explanation, but it does bring up an interesting question: are there animals with a sense of self so developed that they would attempt suicide? A fox will chew off its own foot to escape a trap, but that is a much different situation. I wonder if there are any studies on beached whales that discuss the possibility of suicide?

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