Spock, a dolphin at Marine World, approached the head trainer, Jim Mullen, with a piece of paper and was promptly given a treat. Then he kept showing up with piece of paper, which he would exchange for treats. In essence Spock had discovered the use of paper money.
Everybody loves a good escape artist and that’s why the octopus and the orangutan get title billing in this book. If you didn’t know that an octopus can wander around out of water (so long as it’s careful not to dry out), you will be surprised to learn that an octopus at the aquarium may happily climb out of its tank at night when no one is around, curl across the linoleum to the tank across the way, grab a tasty crab, and sneak back, leaving the aquarium keepers to wonder who has been stealing the displays. The octopus may do this even if its tank has a latch, as octopuses have been known to figure out how do undo those. Then there’s the orangutan who used a piece of wire to pick the lock on his cage. Where did he get the wire? From a neighboring cage where the resident orang had dismantled a light fixture. She traded the wire to the escape artist, it seems, for a few nice biscuits as she was quite stout and the keepers had (no doubt unjustly) put her on a diet. In an earlier book on nonhuman intelligence, The Parrot’s Lament, Eugene Linden reviewed the experimental literature. Here he focuses on telling stories and on pondering what, in fact, “intelligence” is. Whatever intelligence means, exactly, being smart enough to get one’s needs met and take care of one’s offspring and not walk off a cliff, looks like greater intelligence than I can muster some mornings.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: The Octopus and the Orangutan