A GIANT manta ray was facing death after fishing hooks got embedded in her eye.
But then the quick-thinking sea creature, nicknamed Freckles, knew just what to do to survive – enlist the help of snorkellers.
The 30-year-old ray, which is three metres wide, was caught on camera approaching the group of divers as they explored marine life at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Freckles can be seen turning over and spreading her “wings” so she can show the snorkellers her eye and get the hooks removed.
This heart-warming tale is not the only example of just how smart animals can be.
We round up the animal kingdom’s brainy bunch.
‘She trusts me to get hook out’
UNDERWATER photographer Jake Wilton, who guides tourists around Ningaloo Bay, spotted Freckles in distress as he swam with the group.
He said: “I’m often guiding snorkellers in the area and it’s as if she recognised me and was trusting me to help her.
“She got closer and closer and then started unfurling, to present the eye to me.
“I knew we had to get the hooks out of her eye or she would have been in big trouble.”
Jake decided to dive down to try to remove the hooks. But without his diving equipment it took several attempts.
He said: “I went down for one last try and the manta stayed completely still in the water.”
British TV broadcaster and marine biologist Monty Halls, best known for his Great Escape series, was aboard a boat nearby when the scene was filmed.
He said: “Jake went down and down again.
“She never moved. I’m sure that manta knew Jake was trying to get the hooks out.”
Smart little sausage
PORKER Moritz took the internet by storm when a video of him solving a jigsaw puzzle went viral in 2015.
Owner Nicolle von Eberkopf filmed Moritz at their home in Berlin as he used his mouth to complete the jigsaw with pig-shaped pieces.
The house-trained pig matched three colour pieces to corresponding shapes on a wooden board in just under a minute.
He can also hold a paintbrush in his mouth and sort the recycling into different bins.
Talk on the wild side
CHANTEK the orangutan was in 2014 documentary The Ape Who Went To College, showing off skills including cleaning his room.
He was born into captivity in the US and chosen to take part in an experiment into apes’ intellectual abilities.
He learned sign language and could form basic sentences, such as “give me drink”, came up with terms like “tomato-toothpaste” to describe ketchup and learned how to lie.
Chantek died in 2017 aged 39.
Sirga’s roar emotion
FOOTAGE of lioness Sirga hugging the man who saved her caused a sensation in 2015.
She was a cub when German conservationist Valentin Gruener found her wandering around the desert plains of Botswana seven years ago after being excluded from her pride.
Valentin took her in and nursed her back to health at his Modisa Wildlife Project.
They have formed a close bond and the touching video shows Sirga leaping into Valentin’s arms.
It’s the hi life for elephant
KOSHIK the elephant left staff at Everland Zoo in South Korea baffled when he started to speak in 2006.
The Asian elephant had learned how to say words in Korean and a video of him talking went viral.
Studies later revealed Koshik’s calls correlated to Korean words meaning hello, sit down, no, lie down and good.
Experts think he learned to place his trunk inside his mouth to alter the tone and pitch of sounds he made as a way to interact with keepers.
Chatty Alex the love bird
DESPITE only having a brain the size of a shelled walnut, Alex the African grey parrot could not only talk – but hold a conversation.
He even learned how to say “I love you” to his owner, US animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg, and mean it.
Alex, who was bought at a pet shop, could also add up objects. His name was an acronym for avian language experiment.
He died in 2007 aged 31 and his last words to Irene were: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”
Billie busts a move
BILLIE the bottlenose dolphin would stun day-trippers when she swam up to boats in Port River near Adelaide, Australia, and start moonwalking.
After getting trapped in a creek in the Eighties and being taken in by a marine mammal park for a few weeks, Billie saw other dolphins performing and learned to pop out of the water by thrusting her tail back and forth.
Other dolphins copied her signature move, even after her death in 2009.
NATASHA has been dubbed “the genius chimp” thanks to her human-like levels of intelligence.
The chimp, who lives at the Ngamba Island sanctuary in Uganda, stunned scientists with her astounding abilities to communicate with people – but also manipulate them.
She can escape from her enclosure and teases caretakers.
Scientists carrying out a study in 2012 concluded that she is “intellectually closer to humans than most apes”.
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Test of the grey matter
A GROUP of grey squirrels showed just how smart they are by speedily solving a puzzle involving hidden hazelnuts in a 2015 study.
The five squirrels – Simon, Arnold, Sarah, Leonard and Suzy – were set a test featuring a box with 12 sunken wells.
They figured out if one well contained a reward, there would be another nut in the well diagonally opposite it.
Experts at the University of Exeter were stunned by the level of reasoning.
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