Did you know that geese fall in love and remain with a mate for life, that fish “sing” underwater, that elephants use their trunks to send subsonic signals to alert other herds to danger miles away?

Did you know that pigs enjoy music, playing with soccer balls, getting massages and playing video games or that they have saved the lives of others, including humans? Spammy led firefighters to a burning shed to save her calf friend. Priscilla saved a boy from drowning. Lulu helped save her human caregiver who had a heart attack. Mona held a fleeing suspect’s leg until the police arrested him.

Cats are just one of many species with amazing navigational abilities. After Jacob and Bonnie Richter drove their RV 200 miles from West Palm Beach to Daytona Beach, Florida, their cat, Holly, disappeared after bounding out of the RV. After an unsuccessful search, the Richters sadly returned home, never expecting to see Holly again. Two months later, Holly arrived home. Her paws were torn and bleeding; her claws were worn down to the nub; her weight had dropped from 13.5 pounds to 7 pounds. Holly apparently traveled 200 miles and, against all odds, was reunited with her beloved humans.

In their recently published book “animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion,” Ingrid Newkirk, the founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and science and health writer Gene Stone, observe that “humans will invent newer and greater smart phones that can lead us toany Starbucks on Earth. Self-driving cars will one day render road signs obsolete. Yet animals will continue to navigate the same way they always have — and as successfully as ever, without the downtimes or stoppages or battery failures. As for the estimated 7 million species that have not yet been discovered, we can only guess what impressive ways they move about the planet — and perhaps learn from them as well.”

“animalkind” shares with us the amazing intelligence, deeply felt emotions, complex communication skills and overall abilities of animals — and what each of us can do to help protect other sentient beings from unnecessary suffering. The authors want to eliminate cruel and unnecessary human exploitation of animals for scientific research, clothing, entertainment and food. They remind us that “People are hungry for information on the latest anything. Enhance their lives by introducing them to all things vegan, from shaving and/or artists’ brushes made from synthetics that allow badgers to keep their hair to vegan sportswear that is lighter than real fleece and down, to vegan meals that could add seven or eight years to live their lives. And don’t feel you have to always announce right away that what you are serving is vegan. Linda McCartney veganized her husband, Paul, by serving him ‘meaty’ dishes like spaghetti Bolognese and vegan tartar sauce-covered ‘fish’ sticks that she didn’t tell him weren’t made from animals.”

Myself, I have contributed “cheese” to “bring a dish to pass” events. The “cheese” was actually vegan, made from non GMO, dairy-free ingredients. People told me the “cheese” was delicious. I later acknowledged the “cheese” was veganized. I talked about how a vegan diet is healthy, appetizing, cruelty-free, and good for our environment.

In their book “Animal Miracles: Inspirational and Heroic True Stories,” Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger share 50 stories about how animals, including sea turtles, stingrays, birds, sea lions and dolphins, have saved human lives.

I’ll tell you about just one of these amazing stories. Cassandra Villaneuva, 52, was a passenger on the Aloha when it caught fire and sank 600 miles south of Manila, in the Philippines. She managed to take a life jacket before jumping into the ocean.

Two days later, sailors on a Philippine ship spotted Villaneuva. When they hauled her onto the ship they saw she had been clutching the shell of a giant sea turtle, who had propped her up. The turtle circled the area twice before disappearing, as if to be reassured her former passenger was now safe.

Villaneuva told reporters that after the Aloha sank, she had floated in the ocean for over 12 hours when the giant sea turtle appeared under her and lifted her out of the water. Later, a small turtle climbed on Villaneuva’s back as she traveled on the larger turtle’s shell. The smaller turtle bit Villaneuva every time she started to fall asleep, apparently to prevent a drowsy Villaneuva from
submerging her head beneath the waves and drowning.

The Steigers observed that “We cannot help but point out that if we humans could demonstrate the kind of unconditional love of one another that our animal companions have shown toward us, think what a planet of peace and harmony we would inhabit.”

Two other books — “Pet Souls: Evidence That Animals Survive Death” by Scott S. Smith and “Animals and the Afterlife” by Kim Sheridan — describe various ways that beloved companion animals make their presence known after their deaths, demonstrating there is a spiritual essence within animals that survives physical death.

The Steigers believe that the more we do away with the old rigid boundaries that exist between human and animal and permit ourselves to experience the oneness of life, the better all of us would be. This message is also conveyed in “animalkind in books about soul survival in animals, and in many other books written by people who love animals. (About human soul survival: A wonderful book I read recently, “Comfort from Beyond: Real-Life Experiences of Hope in the Face of Loss,” Guideposts, 2008, includes 58 true stories about the connection between the world we live in and the world beyond through the spirits of deceased people who let us know they remain with us by reuniting with us in mysterious and powerful ways.

Joel Freedman, of Canandaigua, is a frequent Messenger Post contributor.