I have a feeling animal’s intelligence can expand as their limitations and parameters are expanded. Perhaps this is similar to the size of a goldfish in a bowl versus a lake. It grows according to its environment.
I can observe from my life that when I am in a primitive survival mode, or treated as a slave or underling, I respond on that level. In a primitive survival mode situation, a fight or flight mentality does exist. In an abusive work situation environment one simply works, eats and sleeps. Eventually one's responses conform to the circumstances one is in. You can still be aware and detached, but it is very difficult because your intelligence conforms to the situation and what is demanded from you and of you.
I recall watching geckos in Florida. Most of the time they are in a survival mode, anxious, nervous about birds, cats, or other predators. Any moment could be their last. How can intelligence expand under such pressure? I also observed when a human was near them they would come close, seemingly feeling protected. In looking at their eyes and expression when close, it almost appeared as if they were curious, more relaxed, and had a certain level of intelligence.
I watched a documentary on bears. The man, a former actor, spent time in Alaska around them with little protection. He named them, observed their actions, got to know them individually. Eventually, he was killed by a rougher migrating bear. The producer of the documentary commented that all he saw in the eyes of these bears in the wild was the desire for food and no other dimension. All that was on their minds was “ where was the next meal.” A brief tape of a bear eating reflected this.
On the other hand, an ex-teacher bought a cabin in Alaska and allowed black bears to roam on his property. They were gentle, caring, and behaved in a non-violent manner. I feel that because he fed them they had more leisure, some security, and could let down their defenses and expand their capabilities and limitations.
Another bear named Bart was raised by a dedicated trainer and used in films. Large and healthy, he seemed like an overgrown puppy. He was loving, playful, friendly, with intelligent eyes. Violence seemed a million miles away. Spared the pressure from everyday survival, his intelligence and spirit could expand.