In a surprising act that appears to show interspecies compassion, a group of crocodiles apparently helped a dog that had fallen into a dangerous river.
The dog, presumably a stray, was being harassed by a group of other dogs when, while fleeing, it jumped into the Savitri River in India. Although he thought he had found shelter, the river was full of crocodiles and three of them were near the dog.
Under normal circumstances, this should have been the fatal outcome for the cub, since the crocodiles were at an optimal distance to attack, according to an article published in the Journal of Threatening Taxa.
However, instead of attacking, the crocodiles seemed to push the dog toward the shore.
“The crocodiles made contact with the dog with their snout and seemed to push it so that it headed back to the shore and managed to escape,” the researchers described. “Although the crocodiles were in a perfect position to attack and could have easily done so, they chose not to, suggesting that they were not being motivated by hunger.”
They added that these crocodiles were “docile.” Adult male crocodiles of this species can grow up to 18 feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds, according to the Wildlife Institute of India.
Scientists speculate that this unusual help could be indicative of emotional intelligence in crocodiles.
“This peculiar case of a dog ‘rescued’ by a group of crocodiles seems to be more an act of empathy than pure altruism,” they said.
In addition to this peculiar interaction with dogs, researchers discovered another unusual behavior in these crocodiles: their affinity for marigold flowers.
These reptiles are often found near or even on these yellow flowers, maintaining “physical contact” with them.
Researchers suggest that marigolds possess compounds that could help protect crocodiles’ skin from fungi and bacteria. Since the Savitri River is polluted with sewage and other pollutants, contact with these flowers could offer them some kind of protective benefit.