As we all know, mediation has become quite popular if not ubiquitous over the last twenty years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was slowly gaining acceptance; in the last twenty years, it has truly become THE alternative to litigation. (No doubt, the pandemic with its lockdowns creating the necessity of video conferencing greatly helped this trend along.)

Well, it seems that mediation is even in the animal kingdom.  In More Equal than Others, The Economist (November 12, 2022) discusses how pigs reconcile after fighting. In a recent study by Ivan Norscia, a biological anthropologist at the University of Turin in Italy and his colleagues, examined how a group of 104 domestic pigs  resolved their disputes. They looked at 216 conflicts among the pigs over a six-month period. (Id.)

What they found was, like people, some of the pigs were the aggressors while others were the victims. It largely depended on weight and size. (Those weighing more had the power!) Just like the most  horrific domestic dispute, the pigs would bite, kick, bump or lift the victim or do several of these moves in a series. Unlike domestic disputes, the conflict would be over in seconds. (Id.)

More often than not, after the few seconds of conflict ended,  the pigs made up on their own such as by touching noses. However, and this is where it gets interesting; in some instances, a third pig stepped in:

Sometimes this bystander acted as a peacemaker, engaging with the aggressor and reducing the number of subsequent attacks compared with what might otherwise have been expected. Sometimes, by contrast, the bystander engaged with the victim. This appeared to calm the victim down, for it reduced anxiety-related behaviour such as shaking and scratching. (Id.)

Evidently, besides humans and now pigs, other species mediate as well, including primates, certain canids, crows,  and perhaps elephants, parrots and some rodents. (Id.)

And like humans, “[p]igs were more likely to intervene after a conflict if they were closely related to either the aggressor or the victim. “(Id.)

And so perhaps  (and as the article noted) George Orwell may have been onto something when he decided to have the pigs govern the Animal Farm.

… Just something to think about.



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