Episode 2 Super Smart Animals


Episode 2

Liz Bonnin embarks on a worldwide search for the planet's most intelligent animals. Featuring grey whales with emotions much like our own and eye-poking capuchin armies.


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Transcript


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'Previously, we saw how animals

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'are smarter than we ever thought possible.'

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'They use tools.

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'Solve puzzles.

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'And can even beat humans in a numbers and memory test.'

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This is ridiculous.

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'I'm Liz Bonnin, a scientist who's been travelling the world

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'meeting the greatest animal minds.

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'And their intellect has astounded me.'

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This is spectacular.

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'But this time we're raising the stakes.' Oh, look at this.

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This is so special. Ha ha ha!

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'Prepare to be entertained, and amazed.'

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That totally blew me away.

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'Cutting-edge science is now revealing how animals

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'communicate,

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'co-operate,

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'and even tell us how they're feeling.'

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I want to chase and tickle with you too!

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Right across the planet, the Earth beats to the sound of animal song.

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A chorus sung in a million different tongues.

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To live in harmony, animals need to be able to talk to each other.

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And in a world this crowded, that requires serious brainpower.

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The smartest animals on the planet are also some of the most social,

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and to be successful in a social world, communication is key.

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Now, imagine if we could communicate with another species

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in its own language.

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We haven't quite mastered that yet, but there is one animal

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that's been living right by our side for centuries, that's learnt

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to understand a completely different language to its own.

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Man's best friend, in all its shapes and sizes,

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has played an important part in our history,

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from war hero to galactic explorer.

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In terms of a dog's intelligence, it seems the sky's the limit.

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But how does being clever help them in the field?

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HE WHISTLES

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Well, it's a dog's ability to understand us that's key.

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WHISTLING

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When you combine two champion sheepdogs,

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and a touch of creative genius, anything's possible.

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WHISTLING

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HE WHISTLES AND CALLS

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But there's just one thing missing.

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Add a little bit of food...

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..and voila!

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So how does this demonstrate intelligence?

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When you think about it,

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sheepdogs are essentially learning a foreign language.

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"Come by to the left" in verbal and transferred to a whistle would be pppppshssh.

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The basic command "to the right" would be phhhhewwww.

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"Stop" would be psssoutwit,

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and "walk on" would be phew phew phew.

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The whistle allows the basics to become surprisingly complex.

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If I wanted the dog to go left and only a small left, it's like,

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psshh, it would be that, if I wanted him a lot further

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and whatever, like, I would have to emphasize it in terms

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phhhhewwwwww, would be a lot longer and harder.

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The ability to decode this language allows sheepdogs to

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understand the exact direction, speed

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and level of urgency required by their two-legged friend.

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That'll do, that'll do.

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Which enables one man and his dog to work as a single unit.

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But with a lifetime of training,

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just how many words can a sheepdog learn?

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Watch Miss Piggy.

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Watch Miss Piggy.

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Psychology Professor John Pilley wanted to find out.

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Good girl, good girl.

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And seven years ago he found the perfect student - Chaser.

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Using crateloads of toys, John and his colleagues have devised

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a groundbreaking study of canine intelligence.

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All the toys have names, and John's picked eight at random.

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Chase, let's play some.

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Chase, find Punt, go get Punt.

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Right, P...P... Punt.

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Good, do it. Yeah, in tub. Yeah, good girl.

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Chase, find Roach, find Roach.

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John never looks at the toys on the mat, so to pick the right object,

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Chaser has to actually understand what he's saying.

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Pop-Pop wants Wow.

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Yeah, there's Wow, in tub, in tub.

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Chaser already knows the names of 116 balls, 26 Frisbees,

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and over 800 cloth animals.

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But can she learn a new word in just one go?

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We've put her to the test.

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On the mat are five items Chaser knows,

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and one new one that she's never seen.

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Chase, find Meow, find Meow, find Meow, do it girl, do it,

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do it, do it, girl.

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Bring it to Pop-Pop.

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This task involves highly complex logic.

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The new word isn't in Chaser's vocabulary,

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so she has to understand that it might refer to an unfamiliar object.

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Do it, girl, do it.

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Chase, get Meow, I want Meow, do it, girl, do it.

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Right now.

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By a process of elimination she has to work out which object

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she's never seen before.

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Get Meow, do it, do it.

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There's Meow - come here, come here, that's good, good girl, good girl.

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After only one trial,

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the new toy and the sound "meow" are logged in her brain.

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And it just goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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In the wild, this mental dexterity allows dogs to communicate with

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each other, which means the problems of everyday life

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are solved together.

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And they're not alone.

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In the heat of Botswana's dry season,

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every animal needs to find enough food and water to survive.

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And the larger you are, the further you have to travel.

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African elephants need to find 200 litres of water

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and 150 kilos of food every single day, which out here is no mean feat.

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Ecologist Dr Mike Chase has offered to show me

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the immensity of this challenge.

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It's only when you're up here that you realise

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the scale of this landscape,

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and, yes, there is water peppering it,

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but from up here you realise how difficult it is to find

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not only water but certainly all the other food that they need to find.

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It's a huge, huge landscape.

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So how can communication

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and sheer brainpower solve this mammoth problem?

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For over a decade, Mike has tracked scores of elephants

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on their epic journeys.

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His GPS data is revealing how herds rely on memory to locate water

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and food sources that they may have visited only once before,

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decades ago.

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And they're led by the oldest and wisest female - the matriarch.

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Now, the older a matriarch gets

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the more information she gets to store in that memory bank of hers,

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and because eles are social animals,

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that knowledge will benefit her entire herd.

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But it's what herds do with this knowledge that is truly phenomenal.

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On occasion, thousands of elephants congregate at

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a single waterhole simultaneously.

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And Mike's data has revealed that some have travelled

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over 100 miles to get there.

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So, how does each herd know when and where to meet?

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This is spectacular,

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Just watching a family interacting...

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..and vocalising.

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There's so much mystery and still intrigue surrounding these animals.

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Yeah.

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That we're only beginning to understand the social complexity, the communication.

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'Mike believes that by communicating between family groups,

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'elephants are able to co-ordinate their arrival.'

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'And it seems that waterholes act as a focal meeting point

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'where knowledge can be shared.'

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What evidence is there for this passing on of information

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from herd to herd, like across, you know, huge expanses of land?

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How do we think that works, and have you seen that in action?

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Oh, totally.

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When family herds in their hundreds come together,

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inevitably there is communication.

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What they are saying to each other, that is debatable,

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and that's exciting.

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We can only speculate that this communication occurs through

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a combination of touch, smell,

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and even sound waves that humans can't detect.

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And when herds disperse,

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this shared message can spread out like a ripple.

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What's more is that elephants may also be able to exchange information

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across vast distances in other, as yet undiscovered ways.

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It's already pretty incredible

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that these elephants can remember places from decades ago,

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and then know exactly when to revisit them.

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But what's really remarkable

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is that they can then pass on that information,

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not only within the family group, but from herd to herd,

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across this vast landscape.

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And it's this kind of social intelligence

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that keeps them alive out here.

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Elephant communication and their almost telepathic knowledge

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of food and water sources

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is clearly a complex phenomenon,

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something that science can't fully explain yet.

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But across the world experts are trying to decipher

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the language of other species,

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sometimes in rather ingenious ways.

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YIPPING

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In the United States, a team of scientists are studying

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a small rodent with a big voice.

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Prairie dogs live in communities called "towns",

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some stretching for miles.

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And with a whole host of predators on the lookout for a free meal,

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knowing what your neighbour is saying can save your life.

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But how can science test for this in the field?

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By dragging a stuffed animal across the prairie!

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HIGH PITCHED YIPPING

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YIPPING

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This might not look like an intelligent reaction,

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but some believe that a lot is going on here.

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And by bringing a new predator onto the scene

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and recording the reaction, they can prove it.

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URGENT YIPPING CALLS

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To the human ear these calls might sound similar,

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but the graphs prove they're different.

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REPEATED YIPPING CALL

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YIPPING CALL

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HIGHER PITCHED CALL

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And it's clear that prairie dogs actually understand

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this difference because of the way they react.

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On hearing the coyote alarm,

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every prairie dog in earshot stands to attention,

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advertising their position.

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Because once a coyote realises its cover is blown, it will give up.

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But with a badger alarm, prairie dogs hide

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because when a badger spots a prairie dog, it'll dig it out.

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LOUD URGENT CALLS

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It's this intelligence that keeps the whole town alive.

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But when exploring animal intelligence,

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we need to consider other forms of communication.

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Because not all animals communicate with words.

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Wherever you look, there are conversations going on

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in which a mere glance can mean a thousand words.

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Animals communicate not just through their voices,

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but also through their bodies.

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By being mindful of the more subtle aspects of body language

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we can gain real insights into just how smart some animals are.

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World-renowned horse whisperer Monty Roberts has been unravelling

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the mystery of wild mustang communication

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for over half a century.

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'And he's discovered a complex, silent language,

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'which he calls "Equus".'

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What is it? What is the language of Equus?

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How would you describe it?

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A series of gestures that means something,

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like signing for the deaf.

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It's so impressive that in many ways the language of the mustang

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is more beautiful than any.

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OK, over here on this side of the hill...

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'The intricacies of this language are so complex that getting close

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'is the only way to observe them properly.'

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But when you get that kind of...

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So, if it's a silent language, how is it used?

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What parts of their body do they use?

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Ears, tongue, lips, they use their shoulders,

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their neck is very important.

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You can read the neck very easily, like snaking, for instance,

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where the neck comes down and then the nose goes out

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and the ears come back,

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and they'll snake another horse out of the herd and send them off.

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Every single part of the horse appears to convey meaning,

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and they have the intelligence to interpret the tiniest gestures

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in order to understand another's intentions.

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As we get closer, our posture is under intense scrutiny.

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When you're walking around the herd you'll notice that one ear

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will follow you, you're important to them.

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It's subtle, but extremely important.

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The ear goes where the eye goes.

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'When you get this close

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'you have to be aware of every single muscle twitch.'

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Let's be really quiet now. Just, don't, don't move your eyes quickly,

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-OK.

-Don't move your head quickly, just,

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just kind of move like you're in heavy oil.

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Just relax and breathe down in below your chest.

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Now look, see, as you, as you relaxed, he takes another step.

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He's so attuned.

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Yeah, he's... really wants to look us over.

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He really does.

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Wow.

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That totally blew me away.

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All I did was breathe a little bit deeper into my belly and that horse

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completely sensed it and it relaxed and it moved towards me.

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And it just goes to show how incredibly complex

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this communication system is because horses can sense

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the most subtle changes in your physical and emotional state.

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Keen eyesight and a complex body language allows mustangs to

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have conversations in complete silence.

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This incredible experience reveals that some animals are

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intelligent in ways that science may have previously failed to consider.

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We've seen how animals are smart enough to learn our language.

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There's Meow. Yeah, Good girl.

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But they also have their own.

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YIPPING

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They communicate in ways that we still don't fully understand.

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And can even talk with their bodies.

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Once you communicate with those around you,

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you can find out what they're thinking.

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And complex mind games become possible.

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On the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean,

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thousands of holidaymakers flock to sun-soaked beaches

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to relax and enjoy the view.

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But their every move is being watched by a criminal mastermind.

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For a few rogue vervet monkeys,

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the bustling beach bars have become a land of opportunity.

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But how do they steal from under our noses without being spotted?

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It seems they know when we take our eyes off the ball.

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Using their taste for fruit juice, and a small board,

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we can see how they use their intellect to outwit us.

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OK, here's how this is going to work.

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If vervet monkeys can indeed understand the direction of a gaze,

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they're going to behave very differently depending on

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where I'm looking, what I can and cannot see.

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So here, a fruit juice that I can see in full view,

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and here, another one blocked by this sign.

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Which one are they going to go for?

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'It doesn't take long.

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'Soon enough I know I'm being watched.'

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'The monkey is paying particular attention to

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'the geography of the puzzle before him.'

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'But does he know that I can see the juice in the open,

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'and not the one behind the board?'

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'When you're a juice-robbing vervet monkey,

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'you need to reduce the chances of being caught.'

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'After a quick analysis of the situation,

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'there's only one drink to pick.'

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Oh. Did you see that?

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Having a little peek at me over the barrier,

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but he went straight for the juice that's hidden from my view.

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'Scientists are still debating exactly what monkeys are thinking,

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'but it seems they can put themselves in another's shoes

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'and work out their eye line before making their move.'

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There's no doubt that monkeys can use their intelligence to

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outwit their competitors and because of the way that they do it,

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this opens up the possibility that humans are not the only animals

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who can actually understand what others are thinking.

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Seeing the world from another's perspective is a real social skill.

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Allowing you to stay one step ahead of your competitors.

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But in some cases, outright deception is the name of the game.

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In Florida, a small bird is being watched closely by science,

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because its life is surprisingly complicated.

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Scrub jay survival depends on acorns,

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but in winter there simply aren't enough to go around.

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So how do they make sure they have enough food to last them

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through the leanest times?

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The answer, of course, is to stock their own larder with

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as many acorns as they can find.

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But in scrub jay society, life isn't that simple

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because thieves are everywhere.

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So how can a bird keep its bounty safe and sound?

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Here's where it gets interesting.

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Hank is on the lookout for a free meal,

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and Bob on the ground knows it.

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Hank thinks he's got the upper hand.

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Bob acts as though he hasn't noticed the covert surveillance,

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and stashes his acorn as usual.

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Once Hank has remembered the location,

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as far as he's concerned it's in the bag.

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But Bob outwits him.

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He's faked it.

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And, making sure no one's looking, he digs up his treasure

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and buries it in secret elsewhere.

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Looks like Hank is going to go hungry...again.

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The ability to predict another's intentions

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and use this to deceive them involves complex thought processes

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thought to be shared only by humans and other great apes.

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Which, for a small bird, is astounding.

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When you're surrounded by potential deceivers,

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living together can definitely have its downsides.

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For these white-faced capuchins in Costa Rica,

0:26:070:26:09

living in groups is essential for survival.

0:26:090:26:12

Capuchins are highly territorial, defending their patch,

0:26:180:26:21

often to the death.

0:26:210:26:23

SNARLING

0:26:230:26:24

SCREAMING

0:26:240:26:26

More capuchins are killed by their own species

0:26:310:26:34

than by any other animal.

0:26:340:26:36

So when team playing is this important,

0:26:400:26:43

how do you know who to trust,

0:26:430:26:45

and how can you prove to your allies that you're trustworthy yourself?

0:26:450:26:48

The answer lies in quieter times when team bonds are reinforced.

0:26:540:26:58

Sometimes in rather unusual ways.

0:27:020:27:04

Occasionally they even offer up their eye sockets

0:27:150:27:19

to another's finger.

0:27:190:27:20

Communication at its most bizarre.

0:27:200:27:23

These potentially painful rituals might look extreme,

0:27:330:27:37

but scientists believe that it's a way of proving loyalty,

0:27:370:27:40

similar to the human practice of becoming blood brothers.

0:27:400:27:43

If I let you stick your finger in my eye,

0:27:430:27:46

the theory goes, then surely you'll trust me in battle.

0:27:460:27:49

This seemingly strange behaviour demonstrates

0:27:540:27:57

the benefits of co-operation, which in capuchin society can save lives.

0:27:570:28:02

Successful teamwork relies on a degree of co-operation

0:28:110:28:15

between each and every individual.

0:28:150:28:17

But how can you prove that animals

0:28:230:28:25

aren't just co-operating instinctively, and that they

0:28:250:28:28

actually understand how to work together?

0:28:280:28:30

In Thailand, Dr Josh Plotnik and his team

0:28:340:28:38

have devised a unique challenge to find out,

0:28:380:28:40

using a sliding table, some rope, and an irresistible reward.

0:28:400:28:45

So here's the problem.

0:28:500:28:52

The elephants need to be able to pull the table closer to gain access

0:28:520:28:57

to the sunflower seeds, and they need the rope to do that.

0:28:570:29:02

But if only one of them pulls the rope, then they both go hungry.

0:29:020:29:05

Can they work together to solve a novel problem?

0:29:080:29:11

And more importantly,

0:29:110:29:13

do they actually understand the concept behind it?

0:29:130:29:19

The first time the elephants are shown this task, they fail,

0:29:230:29:26

but this is a necessary part of the learning process.

0:29:260:29:30

And something is definitely going on in there,

0:29:320:29:35

a four-kilogram brain is working it out.

0:29:350:29:38

The first thing I think they learn, and there has to be some learning involved,

0:29:380:29:42

as this is a task they've never experienced before,

0:29:420:29:45

the first thing they learn is that their partner needs to be there.

0:29:450:29:48

And they've learned not only does their partner need to be there,

0:29:480:29:52

but their partner needs to be doing something.

0:29:520:29:54

It doesn't take them long to figure it out.

0:29:540:29:57

But Josh needs to prove that their brainpower allows them

0:30:130:30:16

to understand what's going on, so he releases one elephant

0:30:160:30:20

before the other in the hope it'll wait for its partner.

0:30:200:30:24

This moment of waiting is key.

0:30:270:30:30

Josh gets the answer he was looking for.

0:30:520:30:55

The elephants are thinking about co-operation, and that demonstrates

0:30:550:30:58

how smart and how well-adapted these animals are.

0:30:580:31:02

It's all very well proving that animals understand co-operation.

0:31:060:31:10

But how does it help them to survive in the wild?

0:31:130:31:16

In South Africa, young meerkats have a huge problem on their hands.

0:31:270:31:32

They have to learn how to deal with potentially lethal prey.

0:31:320:31:36

Because a meal here literally has a sting in its tail.

0:31:390:31:43

Handling scorpions takes months of practice.

0:31:460:31:49

So how do pups ever learn the health and safety rules of the desert menu?

0:31:520:31:56

For all the meerkat pups to survive out here, the adults must ensure

0:32:000:32:03

that they can handle even the most dangerous food items on the menu,

0:32:030:32:07

and the pressure is on.

0:32:070:32:09

In meerkat society, all adults help feed the youngsters,

0:32:130:32:16

responding to the slightest begging call.

0:32:160:32:19

And I can use this to show you how the adults' behaviour

0:32:200:32:23

speeds up the pups' learning process.

0:32:230:32:26

I'm going to carry out

0:32:260:32:29

a little experiment with the help of these speakers,

0:32:290:32:31

which are going to play back meerkat pup begging calls,

0:32:310:32:34

and I am going to monitor the response of the adults.

0:32:340:32:37

Now, first up, I'm going to play back the begging calls of

0:32:370:32:40

three to four-week-old pups,

0:32:400:32:42

so basically it's their first day at school.

0:32:420:32:44

RECORDING OF CALLS PLAYS

0:32:440:32:46

It doesn't take them long.

0:33:000:33:02

Something is definitely going on down there.

0:33:020:33:05

You can tell when they're close to getting something

0:33:070:33:10

because they really go for it.

0:33:100:33:11

'Right on cue, an adult

0:33:150:33:18

'brings me back a harmless larva -

0:33:180:33:21

'the perfect food for an inexperienced pup.

0:33:210:33:25

'And when the pup turns out to be speakers,

0:33:250:33:27

'there's an unexpected bonus.'

0:33:270:33:29

Did you just eat that?

0:33:290:33:31

Was that not supposed to be for me?

0:33:330:33:35

This is the first part of the teaching process,

0:33:370:33:40

but it doesn't end there.

0:33:400:33:42

Pups need to learn how to handle more dangerous prey.

0:33:420:33:45

Now I'm going to play back the begging calls of

0:33:500:33:52

slightly older pups, 10 to 11-week-olds,

0:33:520:33:55

which means they're virtually ready to graduate.

0:33:550:33:57

And at this stage they should be able to handle

0:33:570:34:00

slightly more difficult prey, so we're talking prey that's alive,

0:34:000:34:03

prey that's possibly venomous,

0:34:030:34:05

which is why I'm a little bit apprehensive

0:34:050:34:07

as to what the adults might bring me back.

0:34:070:34:09

RECORDING OF CALLS PLAYS

0:34:170:34:18

'The calls sound the same to me, but like those of prairie dogs,

0:34:180:34:23

'there is a subtle difference.

0:34:230:34:25

'Meerkats use their fantastic sense of smell

0:34:250:34:28

'to source the appropriate food.'

0:34:280:34:31

And after a bit of searching, an adult starts digging in earnest.

0:34:330:34:37

That is a scorpion, that is a scorpion and a half.

0:34:530:34:56

Look at that, and it's looking for the pup,

0:34:560:35:00

but it's definitely brought the most dangerous prey

0:35:000:35:05

that a pup can handle -

0:35:050:35:07

perfect for an older pup of 10 to 11 weeks.

0:35:070:35:12

He can't find the pup, he's eating it himself,

0:35:120:35:14

but brilliant, brilliant result, just what we were looking for.

0:35:140:35:18

Good man!

0:35:180:35:20

This time, the scorpion was barely alive.

0:35:220:35:24

During the final stages of learning, the adults still

0:35:250:35:29

bite off the sting so the pups can learn in relative safety.

0:35:290:35:33

But eventually they'll bring one back alive and fully armed.

0:35:350:35:40

Scientists think that by living in groups,

0:35:420:35:45

meerkat pups can fast-track their learning process.

0:35:450:35:48

Which means they've got more time on their hands

0:35:530:35:56

to do what youngsters do best.

0:35:560:35:59

Play is the perfect way to learn about the world around you.

0:36:040:36:07

By playing around, animals get to try things out.

0:36:120:36:15

Learn from their mistakes.

0:36:170:36:20

And even find their place in life.

0:36:200:36:22

And some, like dolphins, never seem to grow out of it.

0:36:280:36:32

Play is an excellent way to learn about how to deal with the world.

0:36:380:36:42

It might look like the dolphins are just fooling around,

0:36:430:36:46

but all this play is much more important than we think.

0:36:460:36:49

It's making them smarter.

0:36:490:36:50

Whales and dolphins are undeniably

0:36:530:36:55

some of the most intelligent creatures on our planet.

0:36:550:37:00

And rumour has it that there's one lagoon in Mexico where

0:37:010:37:05

young grey whales actively engage in play with another species - us!

0:37:050:37:11

This lagoon is so incredibly important to the grey whales,

0:37:130:37:16

I mean, for thousands of years they've come here to calve

0:37:160:37:19

and to rear their young.

0:37:190:37:21

It's really sort of a place they know they can be safe,

0:37:210:37:24

at peace, and play, I guess.

0:37:240:37:29

The whales stay here for months whilst the calves develop,

0:37:310:37:34

both physically and mentally.

0:37:340:37:36

And when you're young and inquisitive,

0:37:370:37:39

it's the perfect time to find a new playmate.

0:37:390:37:42

Oh, look!

0:37:420:37:43

This is unbelievable.

0:37:480:37:49

They have the whole lagoon to swim in,

0:37:500:37:53

and yet this inquisitive pair are coming in for a closer look.

0:37:530:37:57

Ha ha ha!

0:38:060:38:08

The mother's right underneath, supporting the calf.

0:38:100:38:13

So what does that mean?

0:38:140:38:16

What are they trying to tell me?

0:38:160:38:18

And is this calf happy to get patted, to get its nose scratched?

0:38:180:38:23

Argh! I tell you what, I'm not happy to be getting that blown in me face!

0:38:250:38:28

It's just counterintuitive that they should be near to us,

0:38:290:38:34

that their mothers should allow them to get so close to us. Instead...

0:38:340:38:37

Hello!

0:38:400:38:41

Look at this, this is so special.

0:38:410:38:45

There's no question that this means more than just

0:38:450:38:48

"Oops, we just happened to bump into you, we're going to swim off."

0:38:480:38:52

They stay and they like to get scratched.

0:38:520:38:55

This is playful behaviour, is it happy? Is it feeling happiness?

0:38:580:39:01

Is it so ridiculous to even think maybe do they feel emotions?

0:39:010:39:06

Is that ridiculous now?

0:39:060:39:08

We have a duty to at least investigate it.

0:39:080:39:10

This is important.

0:39:160:39:18

This anecdotal meeting is important in itself.

0:39:180:39:22

It's not just me romanticising this fabulous contact with

0:39:220:39:27

this incredibly mystical creature.

0:39:270:39:30

This feels and looks like something else, like a form of communication.

0:39:300:39:37

If you had to ask me now,

0:39:400:39:41

do I think these animals are feeling things, I would say yes.

0:39:410:39:46

I would say yes!

0:39:460:39:47

And I didn't think I'd say that.

0:39:510:39:53

So, as a scientist, now I want to be part of understanding this more.

0:39:530:39:58

And as a human being,

0:40:000:40:02

I'm completely overwhelmed with these creatures right now.

0:40:020:40:06

The notion of whales having emotions might seem a bit far-fetched,

0:40:080:40:12

but consider this.

0:40:120:40:14

Only seven years ago, scientists discovered spindle cells

0:40:170:40:21

in the brains of a few species of whales.

0:40:210:40:23

Until that point, only humans

0:40:250:40:27

and the other great apes were known to have them.

0:40:270:40:30

We know that it's these types of cells that allow us

0:40:310:40:34

to feel emotions like love and empathy.

0:40:340:40:37

And even accounting for the fact that whale brains are larger

0:40:380:40:42

than ours, early estimates suggest that they could have

0:40:420:40:46

three times as many spindle cells as humans.

0:40:460:40:49

Ha ha. I think that was the goodbye.

0:40:530:40:56

'And one that I won't ever forget.'

0:40:590:41:02

Feeling emotion requires a highly developed brain,

0:41:060:41:09

and if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, we're not alone.

0:41:090:41:14

Being emotional actually increases your chances for survival.

0:41:200:41:25

Fear keeps danger at arm's length.

0:41:280:41:31

Love means we protect our relatives.

0:41:330:41:36

And grief shows us what happens if we don't.

0:41:420:41:45

So if emotions are this important,

0:41:510:41:55

how can we actually prove that animals can experience any of them?

0:41:550:41:59

In Seattle, a big-brained social bird is under intense scrutiny.

0:41:590:42:05

Professor John Marzluff has spent ten years studying how crows

0:42:110:42:15

use their intelligence to survive city life.

0:42:150:42:18

And he thinks emotion may have a hand in their success.

0:42:200:42:24

Studying these clever corvids is a military operation,

0:42:260:42:29

because they've become increasingly difficult to catch.

0:42:290:42:32

And these masks have become essential to John's research.

0:42:360:42:40

Crows remember the face that catches them and then

0:42:500:42:52

avoid it like the plague in the future.

0:42:520:42:54

Looks in pretty good shape, though.

0:42:540:42:57

So John and his colleagues have altered their appearance to

0:42:570:43:00

investigate a possible link between emotion and memory.

0:43:000:43:04

To show you how good these birds are at recognising

0:43:040:43:08

and remembering a face, I've got one of John's caveman masks.

0:43:080:43:11

Now, without it, I can walk around here perfectly happily

0:43:110:43:14

and the birds won't pay any attention to me whatsoever,

0:43:140:43:17

but watch what happens when I put it on.

0:43:170:43:19

BIRD CALLS OUT

0:43:300:43:32

BIRD CALLS CONTINUE

0:43:350:43:36

This scolding behaviour lets me know I've been spotted,

0:43:400:43:42

and it also transmits a message to other crows that danger has arrived.

0:43:420:43:48

What's amazing is that John didn't catch these particular crows

0:43:480:43:53

last week, last month, or even last year.

0:43:530:43:56

He caught them five years ago!

0:43:570:44:00

So what is it that makes their memory of the mask so vivid?

0:44:020:44:06

To answer that question, you need experts in brain physiology,

0:44:100:44:13

and some cutting edge technology.

0:44:130:44:17

After jogging the birds' memories with the mask that caught them,

0:44:230:44:26

the team can find out what's going on in their brains

0:44:260:44:30

by scanning them while the birds are asleep.

0:44:300:44:33

And after a touch of statistical genius, the results are in.

0:44:350:44:38

Right, John, what are we looking at here, then?

0:44:380:44:42

Sure, so in this case what we've got are virtual slices through

0:44:420:44:45

the brain of the bird.

0:44:450:44:46

The colours are the areas that were most active.

0:44:460:44:50

Here we have the hippocampus...

0:44:500:44:52

Hippocampus is all about?

0:44:520:44:53

Spatial memory, short term memory.

0:44:530:44:55

So the birds are recalling stuff as they're

0:44:550:44:58

-looking at that dangerous mask.

-Absolutely.

0:44:580:45:00

'This in itself is interesting but the next image

0:45:000:45:03

'is truly groundbreaking.'

0:45:030:45:05

What is that highly active area here, then?

0:45:050:45:07

It's the fear centre.

0:45:070:45:09

It's basically the emotional centre of the bird's brain,

0:45:090:45:12

the amygdala, adding the context of emotion to that memory

0:45:120:45:16

and thought that was going on in the brain.

0:45:160:45:18

So does that mean that these crows are feeling emotion,

0:45:180:45:21

they're feeling fear like humans do?

0:45:210:45:23

Absolutely, they're using the same structures in the brain,

0:45:230:45:27

we know they're probably also using the same chemicals in the brain to convey this feeling.

0:45:270:45:31

I think there's no doubt these birds feel the emotion of fear - there it is.

0:45:310:45:35

'This is unequivocal proof that crows have basic emotions.'

0:45:370:45:41

'And after such a strong, memorable experience,

0:45:450:45:48

'they're smart enough never to go near anyone wearing the mask again.'

0:45:480:45:52

Strong emotions can cement the memory of important experiences

0:45:540:45:58

into the brain, and that gives crows an evolutionary edge,

0:45:580:46:02

because if you can remember what's dangerous and what's not,

0:46:020:46:06

that's an incredible survival tool.

0:46:060:46:08

But emotions can get much more complex than fear.

0:46:150:46:18

For instance, to feel pride,

0:46:220:46:25

you have to be able to see yourself as others do.

0:46:250:46:28

You need a sense of identity.

0:46:310:46:34

This is a truly advanced social skill.

0:46:360:46:39

But not one that many animals appear to have mastered.

0:46:430:46:46

When confronted with their own image, most animals see only

0:46:490:46:53

another individual and a potential threat.

0:46:530:46:56

It takes a quantum leap in brainpower

0:47:030:47:06

to recognise your own image.

0:47:060:47:08

So, how would a bull elephant called Pooki fare?

0:47:110:47:16

Recognition isn't instantaneous,

0:47:210:47:24

but something is definitely going on in Pooki's brain.

0:47:240:47:28

After working out that his reflection isn't another elephant,

0:47:300:47:34

he has to understand that he's looking at himself, and this

0:47:340:47:38

is something that very few species on the planet are able to do.

0:47:380:47:43

It's worth remembering that Pooki would knock this mirror down

0:47:460:47:51

if he saw it as a threat.

0:47:510:47:53

But he has something else on his mind -

0:47:530:47:56

himself and those rather fetching tusks.

0:47:560:47:59

By inventing bizarre trunk movements,

0:48:130:48:15

Pooki is testing his own reflection,

0:48:150:48:17

suggesting he really does know what he's looking at.

0:48:170:48:21

It's quite amazing how long a male can look at his own reflection!

0:48:220:48:27

And by examining a freshly painted cross,

0:48:320:48:35

elephants prove they understand that they're looking at themselves.

0:48:350:48:40

And this sense of self is truly profound.

0:48:420:48:45

Knowing how you might be seen by others allows you to feel concern

0:48:510:48:55

and have an understanding of their feelings.

0:48:550:48:59

This is essential in highly complex social groups

0:48:590:49:02

like those of elephants, dolphins and the great apes.

0:49:020:49:06

We're only just beginning to learn about the full extent

0:49:090:49:14

of animal intelligence, but what we've already learnt is astounding.

0:49:140:49:18

Did you see that?

0:49:180:49:19

Our nearest neighbours are sentient beings that use brainpower to

0:49:210:49:25

succeed in the trials of life.

0:49:250:49:27

Animals can learn from one another to make life easier,

0:49:280:49:32

they have their own complex tongues,

0:49:320:49:35

and can even understand foreign languages.

0:49:350:49:37

Here comes Einstein. Do it, good girl.

0:49:370:49:40

They communicate across vast landscapes,

0:49:420:49:45

can work together for the greater good.

0:49:450:49:48

And they outwit each other with ingenious schemes.

0:49:480:49:52

They have big brains, big hearts,

0:49:540:49:57

and can even see themselves as others do.

0:49:570:50:02

Which begs the question,

0:50:040:50:06

just how similar are the smartest animals to you and I?

0:50:060:50:09

To answer this question, we've got one more conversation to have,

0:50:120:50:16

and if rumours are anything to go by,

0:50:160:50:19

this one promises to be truly out of this world.

0:50:190:50:22

Science is showing us that animals

0:50:250:50:27

are capable of many of the things we once thought were unique to humans -

0:50:270:50:31

tool use, language, culture, even emotions.

0:50:310:50:35

But would it ever be possible

0:50:350:50:37

to have an actual meeting of minds with another species?

0:50:370:50:40

Well, if there's anywhere in the world

0:50:400:50:42

where that might just be possible, it's here.

0:50:420:50:45

This is the Great Ape Trust in the United States,

0:50:480:50:52

home to what many believe

0:50:520:50:53

are the most intelligent animals on the planet.

0:50:530:50:57

Trusting her to give me a decent haircut so I look OK!

0:50:590:51:02

For 30 years, Dr Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has been immersing bonobos

0:51:020:51:07

in our culture, raising them as you would any human child.

0:51:070:51:11

And they have a relationship that almost defies belief.

0:51:110:51:15

She would like to be a dentist as well.

0:51:150:51:17

Sue is able to communicate directly with two apes -

0:51:190:51:23

31-year-old Kanzi, the world's undisputed ape language superstar.

0:51:230:51:28

And Panbanisha, his somewhat more sophisticated half-sister.

0:51:300:51:34

So how do you go about having a conversation with an ape?

0:51:370:51:40

Well, this is a collection of abstract symbols

0:51:400:51:43

and they represent English words, and they're called lexigrams.

0:51:430:51:46

And if I learn to speak to them using these symbols

0:51:460:51:50

it'll go a long way to sort of

0:51:500:51:52

ingratiating myself into their favour.

0:51:520:51:55

So I'm going to try and learn as many as I can before I meet one of the bonobos,

0:51:550:51:59

and I have to admit it's a little bit daunting.

0:51:590:52:02

What's really interesting about these lexigrams is their complexity.

0:52:050:52:10

You can ask an ape questions, even talk about the future or past,

0:52:100:52:14

but, most importantly, it allows them to talk back,

0:52:140:52:18

allowing an actual conversation to occur.

0:52:180:52:22

'So, after a crash course in the absolute basics,

0:52:230:52:28

'I'm told I'm ready to meet the masters themselves.'

0:52:280:52:31

'First up is Kanzi, but I don't feel ready at all.'

0:52:340:52:37

I'm not sure whether I've learnt enough symbols

0:52:370:52:39

so I'm just going to have to wing it,

0:52:390:52:41

and if all else fails I'll just speak to him,

0:52:410:52:44

because I've got a mic on and he can hear me inside.

0:52:440:52:47

Oh. Hi.

0:52:480:52:49

Hi, Kanzi, do you want to come and say hello?

0:52:510:52:55

Well, hello there.

0:52:590:53:00

Hello, young man.

0:53:040:53:05

Kanzi?

0:53:090:53:10

I...have...surprise...for...you.

0:53:100:53:18

'But Kanzi has other things on his mind.'

0:53:200:53:22

To chase and tickle, he wants to chase and tickle with you now.

0:53:220:53:27

I want to chase and tickle with you too!

0:53:270:53:30

Go, go, I'll chase you.

0:53:300:53:31

Go, I'll chase you.

0:53:310:53:33

That's a good game, I like tickling too.

0:53:380:53:40

He's trying to involve Simon in this.

0:53:400:53:43

He wants the crew to join in the chasing.

0:53:430:53:46

He wants to see you all chase each other.

0:53:460:53:48

Ha ha ha! That would be a good game.

0:53:480:53:52

'It rapidly becomes obvious that Kanzi has a mischievous personality.

0:53:540:53:59

'He's more human than any other animal I have ever come across,

0:53:590:54:03

'and we're actually having a conversation.'

0:54:030:54:06

Water? You want water in here?

0:54:080:54:12

Cos he's hot.

0:54:120:54:13

Water, you.

0:54:150:54:16

Yeah. With the hose?

0:54:160:54:19

The hose water? The hose.

0:54:200:54:24

The hose. Me?

0:54:240:54:27

You.

0:54:280:54:30

I'm coming round.

0:54:300:54:31

Oh, my gosh, it seems like the most normal thing in the world

0:54:340:54:38

to have a conversation with a bonobo,

0:54:380:54:40

and I really feel quite a connection with him.

0:54:400:54:43

And he's lovely, his personality is amazing, beautiful face, full of beans, and we're having a chat.

0:54:430:54:49

And it feels completely natural, which is rather odd!

0:54:490:54:53

How good does that feel!

0:54:550:54:58

'Perhaps unsurprisingly,

0:54:580:55:00

'Kanzi seems to be enjoying this game just as much as I am.'

0:55:000:55:04

Seriously, how adorable are you? If you spit that out...

0:55:040:55:08

'But Sue thinks that by meeting Panbanisha we'll understand

0:55:080:55:11

'just how complex an ape's thoughts can be.'

0:55:110:55:14

Can I come in?

0:55:140:55:16

'And she's asked me to bring a gift.'

0:55:160:55:18

Hey, lovely.

0:55:180:55:20

'I've been told Panbanisha's rather partial to decaffeinated coffee.'

0:55:200:55:23

'And it's done the trick.'

0:55:270:55:29

She likes you.

0:55:290:55:30

'I think I'm in her good books.'

0:55:300:55:34

She's telling you collar.

0:55:360:55:38

Collar, what's a collar?

0:55:390:55:41

Well, we put our collar on when we go outdoors.

0:55:410:55:46

If... You hear that?

0:55:460:55:48

When we go outdoors we put our collar on, if we're going to go in the car.

0:55:480:55:52

'By knowing she has to wear the collar when in the car, Panbanisha

0:55:540:55:58

'is proving that she understands the context of the situation.'

0:55:580:56:02

Car, open...group room, collar.

0:56:020:56:07

See, if you, if you open that group room where you are out there,

0:56:070:56:12

and go out that door,

0:56:120:56:14

and she puts her collar on, well, that's where the car is.

0:56:140:56:17

We could do that.

0:56:170:56:19

Now you can get in the back.

0:56:220:56:24

OK.

0:56:240:56:25

'Panbanisha has decided we're all going for a picnic,

0:56:250:56:28

'and there's only one way for a 21st-century ape to travel.'

0:56:280:56:32

It might seem bizarre, but this is incredibly special.

0:56:340:56:38

Panbanisha uses a complex tool to speak to another species

0:56:400:56:45

in a totally foreign language.

0:56:450:56:48

She understands that there are rules associated with visitors,

0:56:480:56:53

and applies them when she makes impromptu decisions.

0:56:530:56:56

Oh, you want to? She wants to go this way.

0:56:580:57:01

'And she has the cognitive ability to change her mind.'

0:57:010:57:04

We're taking the scenic route, of course.

0:57:040:57:07

Whatever you make of this, there's no doubt these apes have a level of

0:57:090:57:13

intellect that completely redefines old theories of animal intelligence.

0:57:130:57:18

And communicating with an animal that shares 98% of its DNA

0:57:180:57:24

with humans seems like a fitting end to our journey.

0:57:240:57:29

The truth is there's just so much more to discover.

0:57:290:57:31

Wherever you look,

0:57:330:57:36

right across our planet.

0:57:360:57:37

For years, we've set ourselves far apart from other animals.

0:57:410:57:45

And, yes, humans are very special.

0:57:450:57:48

But the boundary between human and animal intelligence

0:57:480:57:52

is much narrower than we thought.

0:57:520:57:55

And what's become very clear is it's not a question of

0:57:550:57:58

comparing us to other species, or even finding the smartest animal.

0:57:580:58:02

Every animal is as intelligent as it needs to be in its own environment.

0:58:020:58:07

We've still got so much to learn, but the more we learn,

0:58:070:58:11

the more we're going to have to redefine intelligence,

0:58:110:58:15

what it means to be human, and the more our relationship with

0:58:150:58:18

other animals is inevitably going to change.

0:58:180:58:22

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:450:58:47

For centuries, the idea of intelligent animals struck most people as ridiculous. But not any more - the latest science reveals that animals are a lot smarter than we thought. In the second of two programmes, Liz Bonnin embarks on a worldwide search for the planet's most intelligent animals.

Liz meets grey whales with emotions much like our own, unravels how the Caribbean's cleverest monkeys outwit their human neighbours, and even has a conversation with the world's cleverest chimp - with some surprising consequences.

Explore how Seattle's crows can hold grudges for years, discover that the cleverest dogs can learn over 1,000 words, and find out why Asian elephants can spend hours looking at themselves in giant mirrors.

Then there is meerkat school, eye-poking capuchin armies, and even a new version of Einstein's infamous equation written by a sheepdog. Prepare to be amazed, entertained, and even outwitted by the world's Super Smart Animals.


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