David Dunn-Rankin

David Dunn-Rankin

Perhaps you are of an age when you remember the 1967 “Doctor Doolittle” movie starring Rex Harrison. In the climactic scene, Dr. Doolittle is in front of the judge who doesn’t believe Dr. Doolittle can talk to animals.

The Honorable Eustace Beauchamp Conckley asks Dr. Doolittle to ask the judge’s dog what, he, the judge, had for dinner.

“He says you had a mutton-chop, two baked potatoes, a pickled walnut and a glass of ale.”

“Sounds like witchcraft,” the judge mutters. “I never dreamed –”

“And after your supper,” Doctor Dolittle goes on, “he says you went to see a prizefight and then sat up playing cards for money till 12 o’clock and came home singing, ‘We won’t get –’”

“That will do,” the judge interrupts, “I am satisfied you can do as you say.”

What if we were all Dr. Doolittle? That we could actually “walk with the animals, talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals.” And they could talk to us.

That day may almost be upon us.

Animal behavior expert Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, professor emeritus of biology at Northern University, is the modern-day Dr. Doolittle. He is author of “Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals.”

Slobodchikoff created fancy computer software to serve as a translator for prairie dog language into English. His prairie dog translator takes into account the animal’s body language and their unique voices. These animals share, through their own language, information such as, “Is this a predator approaching?” What is its size, shape and color?

Based on many years of basic research with prairie dogs, in 2017, Dr. Slobodchikoff founded the Zoolingua company to pursue translation for normal household pets.

Imagine your dog comes up to you wagging its tail and whining. Now you might say, “Rover, need to go outside?” Nope. “Rover, are you hungry?” Nope.

With the technology being created by Dr. Slobodchikoff, Rover would come up to you, wagging his tail and whining, and you would know he can’t find his favorite chew toy.

Maybe Dr. Slobodchikoff faked all the research…it’s all a scam. How would we know if his prairie dog results were fake?

If he were the only would-be Dr. Doolittle, the chances he is a fraud might be higher. But there are many others chasing the dream of translating species language into human language, and who are making progress.

Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project, is using her own fancy software to translate dolphin communications. The Earth Species Project is trying to decode and translate whale language, and they believe they will have that done this decade.

What will this mean to the human race when we can actually walk with the animals and talk with the animals and they can grunt and squeak and squawk with us? Will we have zoos where we can understand how unhappy the great apes are to be locked up? Or will they tell us they are happy to have three square meals and free health care?

Will we all become vegetarian when the cows, pigs and chickens can actually carry on a conversation with us?

Will Fluffy let you dress her up as the Great Pumpkin for Halloween and walk the neighborhood, or will she express to you that she’s a dog and would appreciate you not embarrassing her in front of her friends like that?

We are living in the most transformational period in human history. What a great time to be alive. What fun discoveries will the new year bring? 

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.

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