Can a (domesticated or tame) animal introduce a human to another (wild or feral) animal, such that the other animal would be more willing to tolerate the human?
For example, let’s say Rex the husky befriended a wild canine. Could Rex introduce his owner John to the wild canine without having it run away or attack John?
Or could a chimp familiar with Jane Goodall introduce her to a totally new chimp without her being torn to shreds?
Yeah, You’re basically describing a coach or decoy.
Animals, especially mammals and birds, learn from watching how other individuals of the same species react. If others are relaxed around a person, they will be as well. That’s the whole principle of using decoys for hunting. If a bird sees another bird relaxed on the water it is more likely to land, even if they can see a human nearby. For herding animals coaches are used for similar purposes. Take a tame cow with you when trying to herd wild animals, and the wild animals will conclude that since that individual in relaxed, they can safely follow it and allow themselves to be herded.
Note that this isn’t really a case of being introduced. Animals can’t communicate in that way. What they can communicate is that they are relaxed and at ease, and any other individuals can read that and will also be much more relaxed around you.
A very friendly dog in our neighborhood that would occasionally visit us did introduce an animal to us, a small (and very filthy and somewhat sick) kitten. She showed up on our doorstep barking in an odd muffled way, carrying the kitten in her mouth. When we opened the door, she dropped it and it ran inside. The kitten made it 18 years with us. That was the last we saw of the dog.
As to wild or feral animals, this experience was with a very young kitten. I don’t think kittens this young are themselves yet feral versus not.
We had a starling get into our apartment once. Being a wild animal, it was pretty hysterical being in an unfamiliar, confined space with what it probably viewed as large predators.
My spouse went and got the family parrots. When the starling saw these other (oddly colored) birds sitting calmly on the shoulders of the larger “predator” it calmed down and allowed the spouse to pick it up and put it in a cage with food and water. It also allowed him to pick it up the next day and take it outside to release it.
It’s not so much introductions as the wild animal taking a cue from the tamed ones. Oh, the big biped isn’t eating those little birds, maybe it’s not dangerous after all. (Giving the startling food and water also were points in our favor).
I met Jane Goodall at a speaking engagement last October and she told us a story of this exact situation happening for her. It was a female who knew Jane introducing her to the other females in the family. So, yes, it for sure happened in that situation!
Christian the Lion introduces his wife…
Christian the Lion
MacCat, I have seen that video before but it never fails to move me to tears. Absolutely amazing.
It can certainly happen in domesticated species.
For example, walking out into the pasture with our horses, they would react quite calmly to me. Younger ones would even come up to me. If there was a new horse in the pasture that I didn’t know, their normal flight reaction would be changed by seeing the reaction of the herd – since nobody else was reacting fearfully, obviously I wasn’t a threat. So the new horse would also watch and eventually approach me.
But this part of the OP “Rex the husky befriended a wild canine” seems unlikely – in reality, it’s likely that both of those canines would react hostilely and be defending their territory against an interloper.
Eh, dogs can certainly befriend each other; I don’t see it as completely implausible that one dog in a friendship might be wild.
My best friend’s family began feeding a shy young feral cat who over the course of about a year became entirely tame. A couple years later, the first cat came home with a feral friend who he seemed to “invite” inside the family’s garage to eat and sleep. The second cat also became a family pet, although he was always skittish.