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5 Amazing Animal Heroes Through History

Posted: 03/13/2012 11:51 am

By Jessica Kennison For Gimundo.com

YouTube is inundated with videos of dancing dogs and yarn-throwing cats. Cute animal forwards are fixtures in office email chains all over the world. While watching puppies roll around gives us pleasure, animals do more than just play pretty -- they are war heroes and lifeguards and bodyguards and 911 messengers.

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Dr. Elise Nowbahari, of the University of Paris, says non-human animal rescue behavior is far more common than people think.

Nowbahari’s research, published in the January 2010 issue of Communicative and Integrative Biology, suggests that animals such as monkeys, dolphins, fruit bats and even ants have an instinct that causes them to put themselves in harm’s way for another animal without the promise of any direct reward.

Monkeys will drive away an attacker from a vulnerable female or infant and fruit bats help other fruit bats give birth.

Here are five examples of animals using their rescue instincts to help human beings in distress. For five more, click here.

1. Cher Ami (The Carrier Pigeon)
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More than 200 men from Major Charles Whittlesey's battalion were trapped on a hillside with no food or ammunition in France during WWI.

Whittlesey sent carrier pigeons to deliver notes asking for help. Two pigeons were shot down before the last pigeon available, Cher Ami ("dear friend" in French), was dispatched with a note in a canister on his left leg.

The note read: "We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!"

Cher Ami was shot through the breast, blinded in one eye and his left leg was hanging on by a tendon during flight, but he still delivered the note, clutched in his left claw. Cher Ami's note saved 194 men from Whittlesey's "Lost Battalion."

After the battle, Army medics saved Cher Ami and carved a small wooden leg for him. He had delivered 12 important messages even before this final battle. Cher Ami was proclaimed a war hero upon his return to America.

He died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June 13, 1919, likely from wounds he received in battle. He was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931. His body is currently on display in the National Museum of American History's "Price of Freedom" exhibit.
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Filed by Dominique Mosbergen  |