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The Animals that Played a Role

How to honour and remember them

I remember when I worked at Yokohama City University once a year in autumn all of us who carried out experiments with or on animals had to go to the temple and pray for the souls of these animals. Our boss used to joke and say we don’t have to pray too hard because our work involved crabs and insects, but those in sports medicine using dogs, they have to pray much harder. It’s actually a tradition that came to Japan from India via China to think of animals or free some during the festival of Hojyoe. There are, of course, other ways to show one’s appreciation of an animal that has played a major role in someone’s life and “Cher Ami”, a pigeon, was awarded “le Croix de Guerre” by the French Government for having been a successful war spy. Recently a cat named Choupette inherited millions after its owner, the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, had passed away. Another fashion designer (Alexander McQueen) left 50,000 British pounds to his pet dogs when he died in 2010 and the American TV personality Oprah Winfree is said to have plans to leave millions to her dogs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brigitte Bardot has similar plans. —>—>

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Experiments

Experiments that shouldn’t be done, can’t be done or can but won’t be done

I remember a part of that hilariously silly Monty Python series, in which someone wanted to jump across the Channel and dig a tunnel from England to Australia. And of course my children asked me if that was really possible. Well, they were children, but even now I sometimes get unusual questions, but they’re from adults. One of the more common ones is whether humans can mate with chimps and produce offspring. The interest in that probably stems from the suggestion by someone that the original source of the HIV-infection (i.e., AIDS) in humans were chimps. Let’s examine then.

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Can Animals Count?

Probably no better than humans can

You can play this game with children or with adults: the result would be the same. If you have, 15 cards, each with a different and randomly placed amount of black spots, ranging from 1 to 15, and then ever so briefly showed a card to the audience letting them guess how many spots they’d see, chances are they’d only give the right answer if there are no more than 6 or 7 spots to be seen. Of course, there mustn’t be time to start counting the spots. You can also randomly place some items on a table, covering them with a sheet and ever so briefly exposing the objects to the onlookers. Again, with more than 6 or 7 items, mistakes increase and amounts in excess of 10 will almost always be estimated wrongly. —>