Let’s Play – a poem by Kate Rauner

Alligator

American Alligator, another crocodilian

First he tosses a ball
In the water’s trickling flow.
Carries flowers in his teeth;
Beneath the surface, bubbles blow.
Gives his friends a piggyback,
To our surprise it’s quite a show.
Even crocodiles play,
Though why that is, no one knows.
Must it yield greater good?
If you play, why’s that so?

Zookeepers know that animals play, even crocodilians. For biologists, “play must be repeated, pleasurable behavior done for its own sake that’s similar, but not identical to, other behaviors in which the animal regularly engages. It also must be seen when the animal is healthy and not under stress… [This] definition greatly expanded the number of animals that have fun, including turtles and even wasps.” Scientists have tried to find a Darwinian reason, but “animals seem to play because it’s enjoyable, even if it doesn’t have any immediate or tangible benefits.” nationalgeographic.com]
Any kid could have told you that.

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