Wildlife that Gives Gifts

December 20, 2017


‘Tis the season of giving! With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to wrap up on the last minute shopping, and get those gifts under the tree – ready to be opened on Christmas morning!

Voluntary gift exchange is a common practice with humans, however, in the context of the wild and survival of the fittest, sharing resources makes no sense. This is why many scientists assumed that this behaviour was exclusive to humans – written off as a quirk stemming from our unique social development. However, various research projects have proved that humans aren’t the only ones that like to show their love by gifting one another. Some animals do it too! Here are just a few of them:



While some primates such as chimpanzees would rather kill than share food, bonobos will share their food, even with strangers from other groups, for the pleasure of their company. Bonobos seem to enjoy expanding their social network and having new interactions, and will often travel with bonobos from different groups for days at a time.



You probably already love dolphins for their friendliness and intelligence, but you’re about to love them a whole lot more. Did you know wild dolphins have been observed giving gifts to humans?  It may sound like something from a nautical fairy-tale, however, researchers have now documented numerous encounters with generous dolphins. Some of the gifts include eels, squid, and octopus.



Men might try to woo the ladies with chocolate, flowers or jewellery, but penguins keep it simple. They give their mates stones. These stones are given by the male Gentoo and Adelie penguins and are a symbol of affection and the bird’s commitment. Gentoo and Adelie penguins build their nest out of stones and the ‘gifts’ from the male penguins are commonly added to the nest. While small, these rocks form the cornerstone of each penguin couple’s monogamous relationship.

Food, fish, and stones – not exactly your classic Christmas gifts but cute nonetheless!


Posted by tfhadmin

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