Thursday, March 31, 2011

Animals and Transportation week, part 2

It's bad enough, as we saw last time, when animals have the nerve to use our transportation technology to get around.

But for some creatures, an expensive car is nothing more than an invitation to vandalism. Nowhere is this more true than at Longleat Safari Park in England, known for a troop of macaques that do their best to dismantle the vehicles of visitors at the drive-through zoo.

Due to contruction, however, the monkeys been without victims for the last two years. You'd think the management would take this as an opportunity to break them of the habit, but they did exactly the opposite, as one staff member explained:
“We decided to give them their very own car to get them back in training for the new season. It’s clear to see from our test run however, that monkey mischief is still very much front of mind and they plainly haven’t forgotten their fondness for cars!”

The "test run" involved the monkeys given free range over their own Mercedes, which they proceeded to dismantle, as the zoo website describes enthusiastically:
The new toy was delivered last week and the 100 Rhesus monkeys soon set about tearing it apart with gusto.

The cheeky monkeys jumped on the bonnet, ran off with their very own wing mirror and rolled hubcaps gleefully away to play with.

They even rifled through luggage strapped to the top of the car, and tried on human clothes for size.

The little terrors admired their own reflections in the mirror, and even tried to pull off the Mercedes badge on the bonnet as a souvenir of their day!

Am I the only one who reads this and wonders, are the inmates in charge of the asylum?

You can see more photos of the madness from The Guardian here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Animals and Transportation week, part 1

Any successful species has to evolve suitable methods of travel. And some animals have come up with solutions that make humans jealous: who hasn't wanted to be able to fly without submitting to the indignity of airline security and cramped seating? Or swim or run effortlessly for hundreds of miles?

Humans, reduced to two legs and not even a tail for balance, have had to make up for these evolutionary sacrifices via technology. And some animals that don't know their place seem to think they can have their wings and take our planes too. We've seen this before, but recently there's been a rash of new cases:

-We saw a case of snakes on a train recently in Boston; now, in Poland, a three and a half foot long serpent escaped from a shipping cage and caused a panic, with passengers reportedly climbing on the seats and then fleeing when the train reached the station, where police and fire personnel captured it.

-You might feel those snakes can't be blamed, perhaps, but in England, there was much excitement when a ferret turned up at a train station on its own. Its owner was located living only a couple of stations down the line, so it did not make the whole 500-mile journey from London as intially suspected. However, there is no evidence that it paid for a ticket for a ride of any length, so it's still stealing.

-Most presumptuous of all of these, a penguin from Sea World took a plane flight, and strolled down the aisle while keepers lectured about it to the captive audience. And in case that hadn't sufficiently gone to the bird's head, video of the incident has over 450,000 view on You Tube as of this writing.

Still, at least those animals are using our technology for its intended purpose. Come back Thursday when we'll be perfectly indignant about some monkeys and their human enablers.

Another presumptuous penguin photographed waiting for a plane by Flickr user Stacy Lynn Baum.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Biting news briefs

- At the San Diego zoo, a keeper was rushed to the hospital after being bitten by panda Bai Yun. The LA Times notes:
Despite their cuddly appearance, pandas, in the wild or in captivity, are known for quick changes of temperament that can lead to aggressiveness, zoo officials said.

You've been warned. (And it's not the first time.)

-In Israel, a model famous for her ample artificially enhanced bosom was bitten by a snake during a photo shoot. Then, on the Internet, the story that the snake had died of silcone poisoning went viral.

However, the remark about the snake dying was actually a joke, as explained by the original site that started it all.

Here at this blog we can understand the impulse to jump on the rare story where a bad animal got what was coming to it, but check your sources, people.

(You can see video at that link, if you're into that sort of thing, you sicko.)

-Remember the dog we reported on earlier this month who ate three of his owner's toes?

Well, that cute little Shiba Inu is up for adoption!

Don't knock each other over in the rush!

Adorable shiba teeth by Flickr user Daniel Gipps.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And now, on top of everything else, a rampaging rodent

The world is full of frightening news right now. Still, most of it doesn't have an immediate effect on the majority of us. But out of Bennington, VT, comes a story of a risk that's much closer to home:

An East Street man said he was minding his own business and shoveling snow away from the side of his house when he was attacked.

"All of a sudden I felt something on my back and shoulders, scratching," said Kevin McDonald, of 15 East St.

It was a gray squirrel, said McDonald. He threw the animal off, but twice it jumped back onto his arms, delivering more scratches. Finally, it ran up a tree and McDonald retreated to his house.

The victim was relieved when he found out that since he hadn't been bitten, he wasn't at risk for rabies. (In fact, a Vermont public health vet tells the AP that there's never been a case of a squirrel transmitting rabies to a human.)

So he thought nothing of it till the next day:

when his wife reported hearing yelling from across the street. He said he looked to see his neighbor with a blanket and a metal pole battling a gray squirrel not unlike the one that attacked him the day before. Later, he would learn that a woman on the same street had also been attacked.

The local game warden seems to deny responsibility for solving this problem, saying there's not much he can do unless a victim can corral the perpetrator. And the reporter who wrote the original article is a bit bemused that this story has gotten worldwide coverage, especially now.

But the widespread interest makes perfect sense to this blog. Only some of us live near a nuclear meltdown or United Nations airstrikes. But cute furry rodents? Take a look out your window - and watch your back.

Thanks for the tip to reader LD. And if you see a squirrel that looks like that photo by Flickr user practicalowl, it's TOO CLOSE.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rampaging goats accused of Nigeria election sabotage

That's the Reuters headline. Let's savor it again for a moment:

Rampaging goats accused of Nigeria election sabotage

That's the sort of thing that gives a chronicler of bad animal behavior the will to go on posting.

It's hard for a story to live up to a headline like that one, but here it is:

A Nigerian opposition party accused its political rivals of sabotage on Tuesday after its vice presidential candidate was forced to make an emergency landing due to a runway invasion by rams and goats.

Fola Adeola, vice presidential candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and other party chieftains made the forced landing, damaging their plane, after airport staff in the northern city of Bauchi failed to control the beasts.

The Nigerian government denied the accusation of sabotage and even the description of the event in some sources as a "crash-landing." They say that the plane had already landed when the goats ran across the runway.

And there is some support for this downplaying of the incident in quotes by Adeola himself:

We never knew that our plane crash-landed until somebody told me. It was Ribadu who later told me that I had just escaped death.

Not much of a crash-landing if some of the passengers don't even notice, perhaps?

But even if the government is telling the truth that they weren't trying to sabotage anyone... A spokesman for the national air traffic agency said:

The report we have got from Bauchi is that up till three minutes before the aircraft landed, our men and the civil defence corps provided by the state had gone round the runway and certified it okay. It was just when the rear landing gear was touching the runway that some animals emerged from nowhere on the runway.

Human staff seems to have been doing their job. Did anyone think to ask what side the goats are on?

What happens when you let goats hang out with planes by Flickr user shaggyshoo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Regular bad animal programming resumes Thursday

The blog has been watching too much news from Japan to feel like posting anything funny, so instead, first a brief public service announcement, and then, someone else to make you laugh.

Here's a link to a group that does animal rescue in Japan and has experience from the Kobe earthquake:

Animal Refuge Kansai

They take donations via Paypal. Don't panic when you log into Paypal and it's all in Japanese - there's a link at top right for English.

And, in addition to the usual international suspects, here's a Japanese organization to donate to for human disaster relief that my source in Japan recommends: JEN

And now, if you haven't seen this excellent clip about the honey badger that's been making the rounds of the internet, check it out. Disgusting.

Watch the rest of Randall's Wild World of Animals on You Tube. Definitely the official wildlife films of Animals Behaving Badly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Animals vs. Vehicles Week, part two

Turkeys aren't the only animals that are after our vehicles. We've seen bears try to steal them, dogs crashing them into storefronts, driving them over their owners, and trying to eat them, and all kinds of wildlife blocking traffic and causing collisions.

And no matter how large or small the creature, it can find a way to do damage. On the one extreme you've got the elephant in the photo above that flipped a car into a ditch (see the rest of the photos here.)

On the other, Mazda recently recalled 65,000 cars when it was discovered that spiders had taken a fancy to nesting in the fuel system of their Mazda6 sedan.

The yellow sac spiders were building webs in vent lines, and it was feared that the blockage could build up pressure in the fuel tank, causing cracks and perhaps even fires.

It's still unknown how the spiders got in or why they prefer this model of Mazda, but don't be reassured by the specificity of their taste in vehicles: now they've been found in some Hondas as well.

So before you rest easy that your make and model hasn't been involved in these reports: have you actually looked in your engine's fuel system lately?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Animals vs. Vehicles Week, part one

Back at the end of January, a turkey attacked a mail truck in the town of Centreville, MA. We've seen this sort of thing more than once, of course. This time, though, there's video of an actual attack:


Fortunately, authorities did not take the situation lying down. In early February, they attempted to net the culprit. Using a mail truck as bait they successfully lured it out of the woods, but it evaded capture:

At first the turkey only had eyes for the mail truck. (Is it love, lust, hate? We may never know.) But then the turkey-truck tango was disrupted by the guy with the net.

Slowly, Zimmer edged around the truck, with the grace of Fred Astaire, except for the giant net. But the turkey awoke from his truck-reverie just in time and edged away.

Zimmer pursued the turkey around the truck and into a neighboring yard. Just when it seemed he might have the turkey cornered, the bird took to the air and flew across the street, where it appeared to be thumbing his wattle at would-be captors.

(You can watch video of the attempt here.)

At the same time, one prominent local family who you'd think had enough publicity on their own tried to ride the turkey's tail feathers into the news: Ethel Kennedy claimed that the bird was one that she'd bought at Thanksgiving that had escaped from her property.

After widespread coverage of this development, the farmer who'd sold turkeys to the Kennedys denied that this was possible, saying that the perpetrator was too old to be one they had bought.

Finally, in mid-February, wildlife officials upgraded their weaponry, and once again using a mail truck as bait, caught the turkey with a hand-held gun that shoots out a net.

The tom's imprisonment sounds like it's going to be pretty cushy, though. Amy Travers, education coordinator of the wildlife education facility where he's now incarcerated, seems a bit overexcited about the new arrival: "He's making our dreams come true," she told the Cape Cod Times, explaining that he'll be part of lessons about the role of turkeys in American history.

And he's not in solitary confinement: far from it, at the end of February, the facility provided him with a girlfriend.

But the bird will be kept a safe distance from visitors, and his enclosure has been chosen to avoid provoking his violent tendencies, says Travers:

"The mail truck usually doesn't drive back here — he stays all the way out front."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More on the traitors in our bosoms

Perhaps you scoffed at the little-known risk revealed in my recent post about the man who had three toes eaten by his cute little dogs. Perhaps, like the spokesperson for the animal control department quoted in that story, you comforted yourself that this was a unique aberration.

Then it's particularly important that you don't miss this headline:

Man Wakes Up To Find Dog Ate 3 Of His Toes

In this latest case, the victim, who fell asleep on the couch, was an Oregon man who's lost the feeling in his feet due to diabetes.

Despite how this animal was clearly taking advantage of the man's illness, a veterinarian who was quoted on the matter made excuses:

Roseburg veterinarian Alan Ross says that the dog may have been trying to rid his owner of dead tissue, and says he may have been attracted to the foot if it were infected or gangrenous.

Ross says the dog doesn't need corrective action because it wasn't "acting out of meanness."

It's unclear how this fellow can be so sure about the motivation of the perpetrator. Last I checked, vet schools don't include courses on canine mind-reading. Personally, from here on in, I'm going to make sure I'm at least wearing socks next time I stretch out on the sofa.

And one more item today, to continue our recent feline theme: a bit of bad animal fiction.... OR IS IT?

Photo from Flickr user late night movie, who was lucky to wake up just in time.