This wild boar didn’t need any flashy spy gear to pull off this rescue mission. Once she saw the piglets in need, she knew she needed to lend a hoof.
In order to further research prevention methods for African Swine Fever, a team of scientists from the Czech University of Life Sciences at the Voděradské Bučiny National Nature Reserve set up a trap with corn as bait in January 2020. Soon enough, two piglets found their way into the cage, unharmed, of course. Still, the animals were in distress and called out for help. Lucky for them, a female wild boar heard their cries and called in the calvary. With a team of eight other boars, the swine began to strategize how to open the wire gate.
According to the researchers, the wild boar in charge was likely the mother of the two juvenile piglets. This explains the sheer intensity and perseverance of the rescue attempt, as most animal mothers are extremely protective of their young. However, the scientists that captured the 29-minute interaction on film explained that this revealed something different about the wild boar species.
As it turns out, the mother boar demonstrated a “complex form of empathy.” Actual rescuing behavior has only been witnessed in a few species, including rats and ants. This is because the selfless act requires high cognitive abilities and complex social relationships.
According to Yahoo! News, in order to be considered a rescue, the attempt must have four key criteria:
- A victim in distress
- Actions of rescuer must be appropriate to victim’s situation
- The rescuer must put itself at risk
- There is no immediate reward or benefit for the rescue
While, unfortunately, there is no video available of the heroic mission, you can see photos from the rescue here.
Wild Boar Frees Piglets from Trap Using Intelligence and Brute Force
Normally, with many wild species, the animal either has more brains or brawns, greatly affecting their defensive and fight-or-flight strategies. In the case of the wild boar, though, this species has plenty of both to spare. That’s exactly what the mature female boar demonstrated in her rescue mission.
When she arrived at the trap with eight smaller boars in tow, the distressed mother pinpointed the logs that held the crate closed and began to ram its weak points. Within six minutes, the wild boar released the first log in front of the trap. About 20 minutes later, the mother successfully freed the two piglets and left the scene.
For this wild boar, the risk of becoming captured herself was not enough to outweigh the possibility of freeing the two piglets. Now reunited with the juvenile swine, hopefully, the mother can keep the two troublemakers away from any future corn baits.