What is play? Most scientists believe that mammals and birds can play. Recent findings suggest that fish, reptiles, and even invertebrates may also enjoy playing.
Everyone loves to play, well, at least when they are children. Play is an important part of learning and parents play with their children and encourage playing. Most of us have seen dogs, cats, monkeys, and other mammals play. Zebras play by running and leaping around, and polar bears are sliding on the ice. Play helps animals learn and handle new surprising situations. Scientist have observed playful activities in reptiles, fish, and invertebrates, but not everyone is convinced.
Biologists have seen turtles and jellyfish that appear to be playing. The turtle was pushing a ball around its aquatic enclosure. The turtle was battering the ball over and over again with its nose, and jellyfish have been observed shooting empty bottles across the water. Most scientists believe that mammals and birds play, and scientists have associated play with complex cognitive aspects. It has been assumed that there is a relationship between brain size and the ability to play.
Defining what play is may be easy when you see a monkey wrestle in a similar way as a child is wrestling. It is easy to identify behaviours when they look similar to a child playing. Some scientists say that it is stretching the idea of play to suggest that a jellyfish is playing.
Why not watch this video and judge for yourself. Are these animals PLAYING?