While humans get a choice, of having to work hard or not, to survive, most animals have no option but to toil if they are to survive. Pets work in different ways _ sucking up to owners and putting up with their foibles is a very demanding job and many dogs and cats are mistreated horribly. Birds, hamsters, guinea pigs in cages and fish in aquaria may be fed but they suffer from having no work to do at all and they live and die in utter misery.
Animals that are raised to be eaten, like pigs, chickens, cattle, goats, sheep may be fed and housed but both the food and the housing is so appalling all over the world that I am sure they would wish for death rather than life in those conditions
The ones in between, the wild animals, the insects, the free birds _ each one has to pull its own weight. But some animals work harder than others.
The National Wildlife Federation has made a list of the hardest working members of the animal kingdom.
Salmon: Once a year adult salmon migrate back from the ocean to the river where they were born. That means going against the flow of the river, swimming against strong currents, dodging predators and fishermen, even leaping up waterfalls. They exert so much energy fighting to get upstream that after spawning, they are completely spent and die.
Ants: The workers and soldiers bring food, grow food, keep the nest clean and fight off enemies. Some ants bring back insects and animals that they have had to kill, and some gather seeds and store them in underground granaries. All species of ants have to be able to lift loads 10 to 50 times their own weight.
Honeybees: Finding flowers and then taking their nectar is very difficult because flower nectar is mostly water. An individual bee has to work 10 hours a day to fly thousands of kilometres to gather enough nectar to create one thimbleful of honey. The queen bee can lay 1,500 eggs in just one day.
Hummingbirds: Ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds flap their wings 40-80 times per second in order to stay in the air. Their hearts perform approximately 1,260 beats per minute.
Arctic Terns: The bird has the longest migration _ a 35,000-kilometre journey to and from Antarctica which takes the bird 90 days each way or six months in the air over water. In its life of 30 years, a single bird may travel more than 10,50,000 kilometres.
Shrews: Tiny mouse-like mammals that feed on insects, worms, and snails, and their metabolism is so fast that they have to feed themselves all the time. They are constantly on the move searching for food because each needs to consume two to three times its body weight in food each day just to survive.
Beavers: An average 18 kg beaver has to fell large trees and use them to build houses in the water and large dams that stop swift-flowing streams. Constantly working to repair the architecture and find food must be exhausting.
Hammerkop: These African birds work hours each day creating a gigantic nest for their young. The male collects materials while the female puts the nest together, and then they both cover it in mud and decorate it. The final product can be as large as 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall, often weighing in at over 400 kg.
In some species it is just the females that work hard.
Rabbits: One rabbit female can produce as many as seven litters of four to six babies a litter per year.
Lionesses: They do most of the hunting to feed the pride, and all the work to raise the young. Working together, these females tackle animals many times their own size, including water buffalos, giant eland and sometimes even elephants and giraffes.
Giant Pacific Octopus: She lays up to 100,000 eggs and cares for them for months without leaving them — not even for food. By the time the little guys hatch, she spends her last bit of energy helping them out of the den and then she dies
Emperor penguin: The female lays a large egg, leaves it with the father to incubate it and walks 50 km away to the ocean shores to find fish to bring back to feed both father and child.
Strawberry poison dart frog: She climbs great heights for her children. The eggs are laid on the ground of the Costa Rican rain forest. Once they become tadpoles, she carries them one by one to different tiny pools of water — usually in bromeliad leaves, but sometimes to the tallest trees of the rain forest. She feeds each of her tadpoles unfertilized eggs until they develop into frogs.
Polar bear: A rapidly vanishing species, this Arctic mother prepares for pregnancy by first doubling her weight. She then disappears into a cave and stays there without eating for months after her cubs are born. For two years after that she navigates the dangerous melting sea ice in search for food to keep herself and her cubs alive.
Orang-utan: Young orangutans are nursed by their mothers for about five years and are dependent on her for up to nine years. Apart from feeding them, finding food for them, carrying them and defending them, mothers must build a new treetop bed for them to sleep in every single night _ more than 30,000 homes in her lifetime.
Next time you complain at work, remember your vacations, religious and sick leaves and weekends and think of the beings that never get a break.
To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org