Bibi and Poldi have split up after more than 90 years of “marriage.” The sad news of the breakup of two Galapagos Tortoises, reported here, made my sister Liz and me howl with laughter. What happens when love dies? If you’re a tortoise, it can get physical: “A keeper saw Bibi rear forward and bite a large chunk off of Poldi’s shell. (She drew blood.)” After a few years of trying to persuade the pair to reconcile, zookeepers gave up and put the tortoises in separate but adjoining indoor quarters. Their outdoor space is separated by a divider with a glass window so they can see each other. This seems to be fine with Poldi but unfortunately, when Bibi catches sight of him, “she hisses like a snake.”
Who among us hasn’t hissed at one’s long-time partner/roommate/friend occasionally? After 40 years of marriage, I can assure you I have. My husband sniffs a lot; it gets on my nerves. He objects to my throat-clearing. Neither of us has committed the human equivalent of taking a bite out of the other’s shell, however.
And as long as I’m telling animal stories…
Last month I was so irritated at CatmanDeux’s constant whining for food, I decided to try Ivan Pavlov’s experiment in classical conditioning. You may remember that the Russian physiologist used a variety of neutral sounds before feeding dogs and eventually the dogs salivated at the sound, even when they weren’t being fed thereafter. Catman is fed at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For the past several weeks I have set my phone alarm to those three times and, sure enough, when the alarm goes off the cat snaps to attention and runs to his bowl: easy-peasy. The unintended and unfortunate consequences of this otherwise successful experiment are that I, a sleep-lover, now wake up at 7:29 every morning and Bill has begun to complain that when the 11:30 alarm sounds, he wants to eat lunch.
Have a good week!
Photo of tortoises by Magdalena Kula Manchee via Unsplash. Photo of Catman one of hundreds by me.