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Some long-held animal myths: BUSTED!
by KindMeal.my, 21 August 2014
Some long-held animal myths: BUSTED!

Myth: Swans mate for life.

Unfortunately, this idea is a feathery fiction. In fact, swans are just as prone to infidelity and divorce as humans. A genetic experiment showed one in six cygnets is actually illegitimate, while other studies revealed that swans are more surreptitious about mating with another bird behind their partner's back.

Myth: Pigs are dirty.

The truth is pigs are no dirtier any other animal. They will designate one area of their enclosure as a toilet, then sleep, play and eat in the other areas. Unlike dogs, they do this instinctively, without training. Pigs only wallow in mud because they do not sweat like most other animals, so they need to find another way to cool off. (The religious prohibitions against eating pork have nothing to do with the animals' cleanliness but rather with a common parasite that can prove troublesome in undercooked meat.)

Myth: Lemmings commit mass suicide by jumping off cliffs.

You don't need to be a genius to smell a rat in this rodent-related myth. It can be traced back to a specific source – an Academy Award winning documentary called 'White Wilderness' released by Disney in 1958, which turned out to be as fictional as their animated adventures. The documentary apparently showed a herd of lemmings dashing over a cliff to their deaths, but it later emerged the footage had been faked. When lemmings do actually dash off cliffs it is invariably to dive into a river below to swim off in search of a new area to settle.

Myth: Sheep are dimwits, the ultimate herd followers.

Far from having wool between their ears, sheep are actually extremely intelligent animals who are capable of solving problems. In fact, University of Cambridge studies showed that sheep had learning skills that were better than rodents and similar to humans and monkeys. Sheep can also recognise and remember the faces of at least 50 individual sheep for more than two years, display different facial expressions for a range of emotions, and are able to self-medicate by choosing which plants to eat to cure them when they are ill.

Myth: Sloths spend most of their lives asleep.

Despite their somnolent reputation, sloths are not the biggest snoozers in the animal kingdom. They sleep 9-10 hours each day. Yet Koalas (which are marsupials, not bears – another common myth) doze for 14.5 hours a day, while brown bats get around 20 hours of shut-eye and are awake for just 4 hours per night. At the other end of the spectrum are the grazing giants like giraffes and elephants, who need a mere 3-4 hours of sleep each night.

The beauty of shattering these common and persistent myths is that it awakens us to appreciate – again, more – how marvellous animals are. Another common myth is that humans need meat in their diets to survive. Not so! Whether you're a long-time vegetarian or would simply like to cut back on your animal-based foods, investigate some of the meat-free offerings at http://KindMeal.my

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