|A pancake tortoise meets one of many visitors. OMSI, 2009|
Photo by Sharon Appleman
The computer slide show comes to life when a pancake tortoise meets you, perhaps examining your T-shirt design or jewelry and greets you bolder ones with a turtle-to-turtle greeting: a nose-to-nose push. They will demonstrate their balloon play, mirror play, and procedure in drawing pictures. Some of the better turtle art will be on display.
Back in the mid eighties, Diana introduced me to her research dolphins (including Circes), John Lilley’s dolphins in adjacent pools, and the set-up for her research, at that time recording and studying dolphin contact calls. Both of us have studied our animals’ vocalizations and mirror self-recognition since the eighties—both with success—but more about the turtles’ sounds and mirror responses another time.
In her book Reiss notes—and I agree—that if you pay attention to the animals’ interactions, both among themselves and with you, they “often reveal their secrets.” One way they begin this revelation is to show their behavioral flexibility and planning as they try to communicate with a human with whom they’re bonded (and, uh, from whom they want services.) If a lab turtle finds a water dish is, shall we say, “used,” I often see the turtle balanced on the edge of the dish, head bent straight down, staring into the water until I come to change it.
|Angel in the Secret Garden|