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Compassionate Mama Squirrels

This falls in line with the current theory on the evolution of altruism, known as Hamilton’s Rule, which states that an organism will sacrifice to help another organism so long as they share enough genetic material. This rule was made famous by Richard Dawkins, but despite the rather cynical title of his seminal work – The Selfish Gene – incidents such as these squirrel adoptions are also a reminder of something rather wonderful: whatever its root genetic cause, altruism is hard-wired into animals and compassion is a natural state.

And, of course, these squirrel adoptions shed no light at all on the marvel of interspecies adoptions such as this case of the lioness in Kenya who repeatedly adopts orphaned oryxes or the gaggle of cat-adopting-squirrel stories such as this that populate Internet video sites. With ‘selfish’ genes playing no role in these adoptions, Gorrell can only theorize they are the result of females who become overwhelmed and confused by their hormones. Or, one could choose a more optimistic interpretation: kindness and compassion are such powerful forces that they eclipse all genetic considerations.

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Megan, selected from The Intelligent Optimist

Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better.

187 comments

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5:53AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

beautiful,thank you for sharing 20/7

6:30PM PDT on Jul 15, 2013

Good to know & very cute :) Thanks for sharing.

2:11PM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

This is so sweet!!

10:57AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

Thanks for the information.

7:41AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

2:39PM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

Beautiful story of what happens when Compassion Rules the Heart! We have a lot to Learn from Animals & Children... if we'd just Listen. Thanks. Truly Great Story!

3:06PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Awesome!

3:05PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Awesome!

10:11AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

I believe the mama squirrels are just compassionate and "selfish". Thanks for the story.

8:32PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

This shows that Animal Angels don't have to have 2 legs.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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