Examples of Altruism in Animals | Example of Altruistic behavior
When people think about examples of altruism in animals, they may think of complex tasks like dolphins saving humans from drowning or ants working to protect the entire colony from invaders.
If you’ve ever owned an animal, you’re probably familiar with the bond of love and friendship that develops between owner and pet. This unique relationship can grow even stronger if the animal engages in altruistic behavior, which occurs when it goes out of its way to help another creature at its own expense.
While these are indeed notable instances of altruistic behavior in animals, many more subtle and less well-known behaviors are equally worthy of recognition as examples of altruism in animals.
Let’s look at six exceptional examples of altruism in animals.
6 Examples Of Altruism In Animals
Here are my top 6 examples of altruism in animals.
- Vervet Monkeys
- Vampire Bats
- Ants, Bees & Termites
The vervet monkey is a species of monkey that has been observed to have several examples of altruistic behavior. One example is the way they care for the young. Female vervets will take turns guarding their group’s infants, with one taking care of them while the others get food or play with other monkeys. This allows all members to feed themselves, as well as their offspring.
Another example of altruistic behavior in these animals is their warning calls. When a predator, such as a leopard, approaches, all members of the group emit a type of whistle that lets other nearby vervets know to get out of danger. They produce these whistles even though they place themselves at risk because they attract attention from predators.
There is also a rather touching example of self-sacrifice. If a vervet monkey sees one of its group members being attacked by a predator, it will try to help rescue them even though it puts itself at risk of doing so.
Vervets are not fast and cannot jump very high. Studies have found that at least half of them get killed when trying to help their group members escape predators. Still, they do it anyway.
A vampire bat is another example of altruistic behavior in animals. They have a social system where they use calls to help other bats find food and to keep track of each other, but they also share the food with all the other bats that were at the hunting site.
This is an example of altruistic behavior because each bat benefits from this arrangement and it promotes their social system.
It’s important to note that not all bats behave altruistically. The vampire bat only shares its food with other members of its species, which is one example of how these creatures have evolved to be social animals.
Examples of altruism in Dogs
Dogs are often seen as man’s best friend and have been known to show altruistic behavior by rescuing a fallen animal.
Many dog owners know dogs will often help other animals or humans, even if they don’t know the other animal or human. We also know dogs for helping guide blind people and even caring for their owners when they’re sick with cancer. Dogs have helped humans in life-threatening situations
It is seen that when one dog sees his owner or another person close to him, struggling in the water, he paddles over to help him at the last minute. There have been several accounts where a dog rushes over to assist an animal caught in a tight situation.
In addition to helping each other, we can see animals saving other species from danger. These instances are rare but still exist!
altruistic behavior example in Dolphins
The dolphin is one of the mammals that have shown altruism to other species. Dolphins have been seen saving humans who were drowning by pushing them up to the surface and riding them back to shore. Dolphins have also been seen rescuing seals by forming a protective ring around the seal so that it can rest safely on the water’s surface.
There is even a story about dolphins protecting fishermen by preventing sharks from attacking their boats. These altruistic acts show that dolphins are not only willing to help other species, but they will also protect them. This goes against some research that suggests that animals do not have feelings such as love or compassion.
Adult elephants spend a lot of time caring for their young. Mothers and fathers will often care for their calves, feeding them and helping them to walk while they are still babies.
When the calves are grown, the adults will often take care of them by teaching them social behaviors and looking out for their safety. This is one example where animals exhibit altruism with no expectation of personal reward or benefit.
A study done at Kyoto University found that the dominant female elephant would share her food with other family members when they were hungry, even if she had not eaten yet.
Ants, Bees & Termites
Ants: Some ants, such as the honeypot ants, will give up their food and even their bodies to protect the colony. In some species, when a new queen is selected, worker ants will fight each other to the death until one remains to be eaten by the new queen. This process ensures that all traceable genetic material is transferred to the new queen and further ensures her lineage.
Bees: A worker bee will sacrifice her life to save the queen. When a swarm is preparing to leave the hive, the first bees out are those whose job it is to cover up the entrance with a thick layer of propolis, thus sealing it shut.
The reason for this?
To maintain her honey pot and protect the food store from predators, the queen needs as few workers outside as possible.
Termites: In some ant species, workers refuse to reproduce and instead perform tasks that benefit the colony. For example, in a species called termites (not ants), worker termites don’t reproduce but gather building materials for their queen and her offspring.
The notion of altruism, the act of helping another person or animal and expecting nothing in return, is one that we typically associate with human beings. Yet, it turns out that humans aren’t the only species to exhibit altruistic tendencies many animals, both wild and domesticated, go out of their way to help their friends and relatives out as well.
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