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Your Opinion Needed, is this Species Sapient?


ShadOBabe
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So I'm working on some OCs and story ideas for this Carnival/Circus I'm creating in the MLP world.

 

It's your very standard, classic carnival/circus environment. Trapeze, strongman, clowns, etc.

And I'm using as many of the races introduced in the show as can, casting them as performers and employees.

 

So here's my question: Animal acts will be part of the circus too (you know, like the lion tamer cutie mark Applebloom got in Cutie Pox). Elephants are classic circus animals, but do you think elephants would be just normal animals in the MLP universe? Or are they capable of speech and have a culture of some sort?)

 

It seems that most all hooved animals are speaking, sapient beings in MLP. At least to the point of communicating directly with cast members. Goats seem sapient too, having been seen having actual jobs, but speaking in bleats.

 

Bottom line: Are elephants animals? Or are they a race?

Ultimately I get to decide, but I'd like to see what others think.

Edited by ShadOBabe
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Techincally all animals are sentient, meaning they have free-will. Its intelligence that sets animals apart from the dominant beings.

 

Id think theyd be on the same social level as ponies.

Hmmm... I suppose, but that can get tangled when you start comparing instinct and intelligence.

Most animals seems to operate on the former. But elephants are REALLY smart and have shown a tendency for things like mourning lost relatives.

 

But sheep aren't exactly clever animals, and they can talk in the show.

So far, people seem to be agreeing with "race". Let's see if I get more opinions.

 

Race!

 

I remember being told that..

from an evolutionary standpoint, rhino's should be sentient (according to my biologist friend).

I'm not really considering evolution as a factor for this.

For one thing, by that kind of logic, that would put chimps and people on the same level (and while that's not a stretch for certain individuals out there, for the most part it isn't true).

 

For another, it's a My Little Pony cartoon. It has unicorns, dragons, pegasi, manticorns, spirits of chaos, and magic, crystal trees.

It's incredibly possible that every living thing just started manifesting from some primal magic source in that universe. Or by some other means.

Edited by ShadOBabe
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I think that elephants would be a race, due to their intelligence, plus the fact that they are in the toyline with manes. 

 

I would think that if you did want to go that route, it'd be okay just to have them volunteer like the other races.

 

We haven't seen much of Zecora, but it's certain that she has a definite culture; I think an elephant would have a similar one.

Edited by xxGhostie
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I think that elephants would be a race, due to their intelligence, plus the fact that they are in the toyline with manes.

 

I would think that if you did want to go that route, it'd be okay just to have them volunteer like the other races.

Fair enough. I wonder if Giraffes would be too?

I don't see why not considering all the other talking, hooved animals.

Well except Pigs, they seem to be like every other animal or pet depicted.

 

And that's a good point.

They could be actual performers, instead of trained animals.

 

We haven't seen much of Zecora, but it's certain that she has a definite culture; I think an elephant would have a similar one.

Perhaps, but most circus elephants are actually INDIAN elephants.

Heh, it might be kind of cool if I gave them an India-themed look or culture.

Edited by ShadOBabe
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I think the term you're looking for is "sapient" - sentience is basically just sensory awareness, something that all animals possess. Sapience would entail higher cognitive functions such as language, philosophy, etc. ;)

 

At any rate, it'd be hard to tell whether elephants would behave simply as normal animals in the MLP setting, or whether they'd be sapient along with the ponies, donkeys, cows and griffons...at least, until the show tells us one way or another. They're fairly intelligent for animals, so I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out to be sapient in MLP. If so, I'd picture them to be all high society and speak with fancy accents.

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I think the term you're looking for is "sapient" - sentience is basically just sensory awareness, something that all animals possess. Sapience would entail higher cognitive functions such as language, philosophy, etc. ;)

 

At any rate, it'd be hard to tell whether elephants would behave simply as normal animals in the MLP setting, or whether they'd be sapient along with the ponies, donkeys, cows and griffons...at least, until the show tells us one way or another. They're fairly intelligent for animals, so I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out to be sapient in MLP. If so, I'd picture them to be all high society and speak with fancy accents.

THERE YOU GO!!

That's the word. I'll go change that. Thanks.

 

LOL!! Indeed Elephant!!

Heh, well like I mentioned to someone else, most elephants used in circuses are usually Indian Elephants (I think it has something to do with African Elephants being a bit more temperamental).

So reference to the culture of India might be interesting.

Edited by ShadOBabe
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Indian cultured elephants would be cool. 

 

According to Robert Fewkes (executive), only hooved animals are sapient. I'm assuming through this and the fact that giraffes are ruminant, meaning their digesting is similar to that of a cow, that they would be sapient. Lions, however, would be a cool idea for an animal tamer. It's been proven that lions aren't sapient in the episode "The Cutie Pox", where Applebloom tames a lion.

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So far all the sapient creatures we've seen that map to RL species are ungulates. An elephant is a Paenungulata, literally 'almost ungulate'. So it would be skating the line. However, given that cows appear to be sapient, but pigs don't seem to be, dividing it by ungulate/not-ungulate doesn't appear to be right. Unless the pigs and sheep and whatnot are consciously refusing to be 'intelligent'. (I raise sheep and horses myself. Sheep are not as stupid as presented. At least not the relatively primitive breeds like the Icelandics. They're just... prioritizing differently, much like horses do.)

 

Just as a note, Rhinos and Tapirs are pretty much guaranteed to be sapient given how close they are to equines genetically.

 

Any case, I think this falls into the 'it's your story, go for it' category because we don't have enough information to really understand the pattern.

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Whos to say animal performers can't perform on their own without tamers? I saw in the MLP episode for the Cutie Pox that at one point AppleBloom was whipping lions as a talent, so lions are animalistic it seems. I would think this may go for elephants but you just never know. For animals they could be their own trainer and do as they think for a show?

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Whos to say animal performers can't perform on their own without tamers? I saw in the MLP episode for the Cutie Pox that at one point AppleBloom was whipping lions as a talent, so lions are animalistic it seems. I would think this may go for elephants but you just never know. For animals they could be their own trainer and do as they think for a show?

 On the other hand, Fluttershy can tame animals with just her voice. Seems to be mere language barrier between some of the other animals and ponies of Equestria. 

 

Though I'm pretty sure there will be creatures so feral even Fluttershy can't tame them. Like the Cragodile.

Edited by Malinter
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I think it should depend on their role. If they are filling the role of strongmen, they should be sapient. On the other hand, if you want them filling the role of a circus animal, then it would be better  to make them non-sapient. This is a good standard for defining the role of any other animals as well. It would be weird if a sapient being was filling the role of a non-sapient being (unless you are writing a fic regarding MLP racism, which I assume you are not). It would be kind of cool to have elephants be sapient, as it would open the door for a new culture within the MLP universe.

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