Saturday, March 3, 2018

Uncle FERG visits the den

One of my favorite behaviors to watch is play, even more so when some individuals that I wouldn’t expect to play do so. Lately FERG, the subadult son of our matriarch WAFLs, has spent a lot of time at the den playing with the cubs. 

FERG playing with his favorite playmate, little BFG.
While he is bigger, stronger, and out-ranks every one of them he is endlessly patient. He encourages an entire hoard of cubs to simultaneously bite his ears, pull his tail, and romp all over his body, seeming to enjoy every moment. To them, he is truly a gentle giant, the fun uncle.

Not only is play adorable, it’s a safe way for the cubs to learn important motor techniques that they will use later in life while hunting or mating. It makes sense why cubs play – they’re learning these skills. Why subadult like FERG and adults play with the cubs and each other is, however, still not fully understood. Our grad student Tracy Montgomery is currently investigating whether play reduces stress, and I can’t wait to see what she finds. For more information about play, visit her website and read Lily's post about play behavior here

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