Animals are free in the wild, and they play. Perhaps it’s a simple way of expressing their freedom. The most amazing thing to notice is that, the animals who are otherwise renowned as ferocious and cruel are the most enterprising pranksters amongst them. Also, among young animals, play is training for life; but , adults play nevertheless. These anecdotes reveal this lesser known charecteristics of the wild.
Carl Akeley, the African explorer once quietly approached a group of young African elephants. When finally he caught a glimpse of the playful mammoths he was bewildered to find that they were actually playing with a football of sun-baked earth of around two feet in diameter! Or, take the story of W.H . Hudson, the English explorer. He related a story where he was actually chosen to be the audience of a very rare puma sport. The pumas jostled and tussled like kittens, and actually took turns leaping directly over his body.
a young hippo at the Amsterdam zoo, found quite an interesting pastime . he had a maple leaf, floating on the water. What he did was something like this..he swum beneath the floating leaf, snorted it high above..and as the leaf came down he caught it again in a spray of snorty water ! this well continued for a few hours. Young raccoons often play with a small piece of wood until they have worn it smooth. Fox and coyote cubs toss a bit of moss or bark into the air and catch it again. They shake it, “worry” it and play stalking and pouncing games with it.
Another very interesting phenomena is that animal play patterns are strikingly similar to that of children. Deers have their own version of tag. When the deer that is “it” succeeds in overtaking another deer, it actually reaches out and tags the other with its hoof. A wild grizly brute will clamber laboriously to the top of a good snow slope again and again for the joy of whizzing down like a small boy playing shoot the chute. Enos Mils , an American naturalist, told of a black bear cub that climbed into an open barrel , lurched and rocked until it had overturned it, then rolled uproariously down the mountain.
Birds can fly and they also play pretty dangerous games. Flocks of rook mount high in the air together, then close their wings and zoom down as near to earth as they dare, opening their wings to break the fall only at the last moment.
As the poet philosopher Novalis puts it , “the play of animals is just their way of uttering the glory of God.”