Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stray dogs master the subway in Moscow

         As we continue to expand development of Earth for man, species in the wild encounter cities and roads ever more often and habitat patches grow smaller and more fragmented. The matrix of these habitat patches are often unsuitable for species and movement is restricted, particularly if that matrix is a large city like New York or London. But the species that are and will be able to survive in today's changing world are those that are able to quickly adapt to this new environment and some clever stray dogs in Moscow have done just that.
        Several of the 35,000 stray dogs living in Moscow have figured out how to use the complex subway system to move from residential areas in the outskirts of town into the city center where people and food are abundant. But, "taking the subway is just one of many tactics the strays have come up with for surviving in the manmade wilderness around them" (abc news). The dogs know to be friendly and patient with humans in the hopes of winning a scrap of food. Dogs will remember spots that win them the most food and return there daily. Packs of dogs will even send out their smaller, cuter members realizing that they are more successful beggars. But the strays can also be tricky using the bark-and-grab method. This involves sneaking up behind a human holding some food then barking loudly right behind them, hoping to startle them enough to drop that food which is then quickly snapped up.
       Some Muscovites see the stray dogs as a problem and sterilization campaigns have been tried, but with little success. Most Muscovites, though, have grown to love their strays and have even erected a statue of a particularly well liked pup who frequented the subways after being outraged when an angry fashion model stabbed it to death because she didn't like the way it barked at her pet. Today, rubbing the nose of the statue dog is said to be good luck.
      Dogs are not the only animals who have figured out how to live alongside humans in captivity and in the wild. In London, you can find a cat who frequently rides the bus, in Oklahoma there is a squirrel who obeys traffic signals and some orangutans and otters in captivity have discovered how to slyly "trade" with their handlers for treats. All proving that some clever species will be able to succeed in today's human wilderness.
You can find the story from ABC News here, or watch a youtube video here.
-Kersti Martinsson

1 comment:

John Latto said...

Very cool. I wonder how much the dogs really understand that the subway is actually traversing the city? There's the implication that they are using it for transport but my money is on the fact the dogs are solely using it for warmth since the subway is incredibly hot and the outside is freezing cold.