Monday, December 31, 2012

Bird sent to re-education camp in China



From The Telegraph, one of those rare cases where the people in charge stand up to a bad animal - let's hope to see more of this in the coming year:

Bird in solitary confinement after abusing zoo visitors

Chinese zookeepers have sentenced a Vietnamese bird to solitary confinement after visitors taught the animal to greet tourists with a barrage of expletives
Initially the birds, imported to the Chinese zoo from Vietnam, were a success, winning visitors over with their “lovely appearances and clever tongues”.
But in recent weeks zookeepers noticed something was wrong. Instead of greeting tourists with the customary “Ni hao” (Hello), one bird started hurling insults at zoo-goers.
Zookeeper Li Yun told the newspaper he had been appalled by the animal’s sudden outburst. “The Myna has a good memory,” he said.
“Maybe some tourist taught the bird this bad language.”
To avoid contaminating its cage mates, the animal, which was not named, has reportedly been placed in solitary confinement where it is undergoing “special training”.
Keen to rehabilitate the foul-mouthed bird, zookeepers have been playing it tapes containing “polite words”. Future offenders will be deprived of food, the newspaper added.
Meanwhile visitors have been asked to refrain from teaching cuss words to the birds. “Human behaviour will affect the animals,” Mr Li said. A sign has also been erected at the zoo. “'Please do not use foul language to get a rise out of the Myna,” it says.
Video of mynah setting a good example by Flickr user istolethetv.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anticipating a lively Year of the Snake


The coming new year will be the Year of the Snake, and although the Chinese new year doesn't start for a couple of months, already the reptiles are getting more attention in Asia, with pet snakes reportedly becoming more popular as well as brisk sales of other snake-themed items.

This will no doubt result in snakes getting uppity and causing more trouble than usual, but as we often observe on this blog, people are usually afraid of the wrong things when it comes to animals. No doubt you think the greatest thing to fear is snakebite, but since most snakes are not venomous, being bitten by a snake is not actually that big a deal. I've been bitten by many and my reptile keeper friends unanimously agree that we'd rather be bitten by a snake than a dog.

So it's the sneaky threats that we should pay more attention to - for instance one of the most insidious is their habit of causing electrical outages by slithering into substations and other equipment and causing short-circuits. An even more unanticipated trend is shown by a couple of cases in Australia:

- In Queensland, a mother discovered that her three year old son was raising a clutch of seven highly venomous brown snakes. He'd collected the eggs and put them in his wardrobe for safety, where they had stayed warm and hatched out.

-In Darwin, a mother snake opted for professional child care instead: her 23 babies were living inside the wall of a day care (pictured above).

What you may take away from these two stories is that snakes are targeting our innocent children. But another way to interpret this is that snakes are trying to get us to raise their young for them, so who knows what else they've got planned.

Fortunately, Australians also provide some inspiration for standing up to these creatures with whatever comes to hand:

-A radio host in Darwin who calmly improvised a solution while the rest of his family panicked:
"My son yelled out to me to call the snake catcher - but I said, 'Nah, that's for soft cocks down south'," he said.
"It must have been quite a sight to see me walking down the street in my jocks holding a 2m snake."
The Mix 104.9 broadcaster said he was dishing up dinner when his wife Vicki let out a "bloodcurdling scream" from their bedroom about 9.30pm on Sunday.
"There was this snake with its head in my wife's handbag section of the wardrobe," he said.
Mr Davies, 56, was left to wrangle the reptile alone after his 20-year-old son turned his back on the catch and went to his bedroom.

Mr Davies said he used an old crab pot to make a crook before hooking the olive python's belly and pulling it out of the wardrobe.
-And another man who reportedly bit the head off of one of those highly venomous brown snakes, although he did tell reporters he'd had a few drinks beforehand and "said he would tell his four grandchildren what happened but hopes they won’t try it themselves."

I don't recommend the latter approach either, but for their attitude if not the specifics, let's keep these inspiring examples in mind in the coming year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday eve news briefs

-Carrying on the cat burglar tradition that we've seen many times before is a feline in New Zealand named Angus. Angus has had a habit of stealing things from around the neighborhood for a long time:
"Angus had always liked bringing us gifts over the years. In the past he's brought us bread rolls, a toy skunk, kids shoes, a gumboot, pie wrappers, a box of pantyliners, a poi, a red fluffy dogs bone, and a half-eaten subway, to name a few."
But in mid-December his habit escalated to the point of bringing home two or three items a night, and attracting the attention of the local news. Everyone seems mystified but it seems that this is no doubt due to the imminent holiday - what do you expect, given his owner's misguided description of these items as "gifts."

-Some people might find doves hanging around the house to be a festive seasonal addition, but not a woman in Germany who recently reported to police that she was being stalked by a pigeon:
The exasperated woman told officers on Monday that the blue-grey pigeon had been a constant presence at her side for the past three weeks. She said the "strange bird" had been hanging round in her garden or on her terrace constantly, and seemed to be looking for some kind of "familial connection."
 Even once it had been chased out, the persistent pigeon would perch on a nearby branch and wait for the next opportunity to present its credentials as a potential companion.

But the animal failed to recommend itself: when it did get in, the stubborn animal would "leave traces that no good housewife would want in her home," the police report said.
-Finally, two donkeys try to take advantage of their traditional seasonal role as cover to make a break for it:
The pair named Benny and Maria had managed to find a way out of their stable on the outskirts of the city and had wandered undisturbed all the way into the centre where they then went through the automatic doors into the station.

A police spokesman said: "We were surprised they managed to get so far without somebody raising the alarm but we think a lot of people just assumed it was some sort of Nativity stunt. Any other time of the year we would have probably had a lot more calls – but as it was it was only when they ended up at the train station that passengers started calling realising it wasn't safe."


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not all bird attacks are hoaxes

As a bad animal watcher, I was disappointed yesterday to find out that that viral video of an eagle snatching up a toddler was actually a class project in a digital animation program.

Disappointed, you say? Yes, because finding out that this was a hoax means that people will let their guard down. But just because that particular bird of prey was a fake doesn't mean these animals are not a hazard.

Take the recent case of an eagle owl that was making itself at home in a neighborhood in Devon, England. Owls are strangely fashionable these days, practically a mascot of cute for young hipsters and crafters. No doubt this reputation influenced residents who developed a fondness for the bird, one of whom even allowed it to make itself at home in his living room. "He isn’t harming anyone. He was like a pet cat," said the man.

Well, perhaps he was, seeing that we've seen cat attacks so bad that people ended up in the hospital, but soon enough it became clear to others that a predator with a six foot wingspan is not a good neighbor. One local said he'd stopped letting his children play in the yard after the bird attacked their gardener, scratching him on the neck and drawing blood. Another said:
“We haven't been able to let our three young grandchildren out in the garden for months. We got more concerned when the owl tried to attack our poodle Minnie.”
A perfect example of how confused people are about these matters, observe this same man's bizarre ambivalence after expressing relief at the news that the owl has been captured and moved to a wildlife sanctuary:
We love the bird to bits. We have seen it in our garden since February, but it was just the risk it was posing. We were beginning to feel really trapped in our home and it really has been a worry."
People: When a violent criminal is stalking your neighborhood, committing bloody attacks, and trapping you in your homes? It's OK to be happy when it's taken into custody. Even if it's an animal.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bad bird roundup


- Here's one we haven't seen in a while: Once again, animals in the Middle East are suspected of being secret agents. In Sudan, a vulture that was captured and found to be fitted with a GPS system and tags reading "Israel Nature Service" and "Hebrew University, Jerusalem" is accused of being an Israeli spy.  Yeah, sure, "migration study," that's what they all say.

-Even very small birds can interfere with business: In Scotland, a 24-hour supermarket has been forced to cut back its hours because of a robin (pictured above) and a pigeon:
An assistant at the supermarket said: “We’ve had to start closing the store for a while at 11pm, when it’s quiet. All the staff have to go to the staff room and wait while the birds are chased out of the store.”
-In a cemetery in Northern Ireland, thousands of decorative stones had been disappearing from graves over a period of weeks. Locals were baffled, but if only people read this blog they'd solve these cases sooner: it was another case of grave-desecrating crows.

Finally, a woman visiting a family member's grave caught the birds in the act, and the next day, the caretaker saw the culprits - and their lookouts - for himself:
"They stripped the grave bare, it was unbelievable.Some crows stood on the headstone looking around while the rest were picking the stones off the grave."
When the solution to the mystery was reported to the person who'd first noticed the missing stones, she was reportedly 'delighted.' Perhaps she thinks it will be easier to thwart a bird than a human criminal. But as we've seen before, those birds can hold a grudge. So good luck, but they can't say I didn't warn them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More bad cats



As longtime readers of this blog know, there's nothing new about cats roaming neighborhoods, stealing things.

But a cat in England recently added a new technological twist to this. A spate of missing keys in a neighborhood in London turned out not to be an epidemic of contagious forgetfulness, but the work of a cat named Milo who wore a magnetic collar.

The collar was designed to open a cat door, but Milo's owner discovered that she had found another use for it when she caught the cat arriving home with a set of keys dangling from her collar.
She found 12 sets of keys in her back garden and eight dotted around her home – as well as another six sets which were found in neighbour's gardens after they dropped off Milo's collar as she prowled through their gardens.
She said she had also found dozens of metal items scattered around her house, including nails, pins, screws and bolts.
The cat's owner says that "luckily neighbours have seen the funny side of it," but it's sobering to think of what a less ethical cat owner could do with the idea. However, anyone in England thinking of enlisting a cat as a partner in crime should think twice. Not only are cats untrustworthy, it's possible that police are cracking down: in Kent, two officers were recently sent to investigate a cat that stole a roast chicken from a neighbor's kitchen.

The incident has raised controversy amid claims that the cost of dispatching the officers on such a case added up to £2,000.  But the victim says that this was "the tip of the iceberg" of a long string of offenses and the chicken was merely "the last straw."

And a police spokesperson defended the response:
"The caller raised issues to do with a cat but also ongoing concerns for her quality of life."
As a cat owner myself, I know exactly what they mean.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Important lessons



Have got all my fingers back but not 100%, but fortunately these are stories that mostly speak for themselves:

-Just after the incident in our last post, more tourists learn why you don't pet the top predator in an ecosystem, this time in Mexico:
A Swedish couple honeymooning in Cancun, Mexico, were left terrified after being attacked by a dolphin during a swim-with-the-dolphins session held at a marine park.
The eight people were told by the dolphin trainer to splash the water and have the dolphins reciprocate. All was well at first said Cadbrand, until a young woman screamed that she had been bitten. A few seconds later, a middle-aged woman was bitten by the same dolphin who then turned its attention to Cadbrand and bit her on the thigh. Picasso returned once more to attack the middle-aged woman and then began to head back towards Cadbrand. 

 -Why you don't keep pet primates, part 1:
Marla Reeves said she was delivering mail in the mailbox at 4:38 p.m. on County Road 2345 when the lemur jumped into her vehicle, bit her hand and arm and then jumped out.
"I was fixing to pull away and when I looked back to pull away that's when I felt the pain in my hand," Reeves said. "I looked at my hand and the lemur was on my hand and I lifted up my arm like this and blood was running down my arm."
Of course the lemur's owner defended the animal:
"He’s like family. He’s very loving. He gives hugs and kisses and likes to sit in our laps, where he often falls asleep. We have a bed in his room that I sometimes sleep in and he will get under the covers and hold my finger while he falls to sleep. He’s very sweet natured.”
And yet in the very next paragraph:
Over the years, the owner and her daughter have tried to ensure the safety of the both the lemur and visitors by placing the animal in its room when guests were scheduled to come by for a visit, requesting notification from all friends, family and service people prior to their arrival.
Not how you have to manage most "sweet natured" members of a household, is it?
-Why you don't keep pet primates, part 2: Because your illegal monkey is a bad partner in crime. Everything would have been fine if a macaque in Toronto had kept a low profile, but no:
A monkey wearing a miniature shearling coat and diapers was collected by animal services on Sunday afternoon, after shoppers spotted the animal in the parking lot of a Toronto Ikea store.
The owners, who were shopping in the store at the time, have come forward to claim the monkey, Toronto Police Sgt. Ed Dzingala told CBC News.
Dzingala said that the animal was in a car in the parking lot and it somehow let itself out of its crate.
But since I'm always making fun of people who don't understand anything about animals, let's give a small amount of credit where it is due:
While it was not immediately clear why the monkey was in the parking lot, the animal was presumed to be someone's pet, an Ikea spokesperson said, because "he was wearing a jacket." 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Technical difficulties


I have only one typing hand because I fell - ironically, not over a pug or cat - and broke my wrist. So today is just links, but, what links:

Fox steals cell phone, sends text

Snake on a plane!

Gobbler gridlock: Officials on hunt for brazen fowl that blocks traffic 
   Don't miss the actual Wanted poster
 
Sea World dolphin bites girl

Just one comment from me, on the last one: People, these animals are top predators in their ecosystem. It makes as much sense to have children petting them as to have them petting full-grown tigers. What are you thinking, Sea World? If nothing else, what is your insurance company thinking?

Dolphin teeth long past being disguised by cuteness by Flickr user hynkle.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday shopping guide

Once again, it's our annual guide to gifts that will help spread the truth about animals or give bad animals what they deserve.  And what more effective way to spread the truth than to wear it on your chest? Over at Topatoco they've got a whole category of t-shirts of Animals Doing Things That They Aren't Supposed To Be Doing. I especially recommend this excellent symbolic representation of the true nature of dolphins (catch up with the archives here if you don't believe it).

Know any cats? You need an inflatable Unicorn Horn for Cats from Archie McPhee. That'll show 'em.

And of course, the best way to inform your friends who don't get it about animals: of course you're going to get them the book. (And as this post about the best gifts for a writer explains, that would be an excellent gift for me too!) Full of high-quality animal offensiveness, much never seen on the blog!

Holiday shipping deadlines are fast approaching, so get going on that clicking, and on Thursday we'll return to our regular bad animal news.


PS: If you like the illustrations in the book (and if you don't, what's wrong with you?) my illustrator's t-shirt company is going out of business, so don't miss your last chance to order at www.squidfire.net.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bad kitties

-In case you missed it over at the Animals Behaving Badly Tumblr, that's a lion that stole the camera of a photographer who fortunately had a second camera with which to record the whole thing. The camera didn't survive the ordeal, but apparently the film did, so we got to see what a lion's taste in photography looks like:

 -In England, a cat named Oscar ate a diamond necklace.  This is the sort of thing we see more often  with canines, but it sounds like these people might as well be living with a lion:
 “You don’t want to get in the way of Oliver when he’s eating. He’s quite a large cat, and quite ferocious when he eats the treat sticks."
 Hope they don't make a habit of leaving expensive cameras lying around.

-In Poland, an embezzler seemed to be at work stealing from the petty cash at an animal shelter. To identify the thief, a secret camera was set up and some bills were left in plain view as a temptation. You know where this is going, of course: the perp was a cat. Showing that good breeding doesn't mean good morals, a pedigreed Burmese named Klemens - who also liked to steal office supplies - was seen snatching the money off the desk, rolling around with it on the floor, and stashing it under a sofa.

Like many who try to excuse a criminal who came from a rough background, one staff member said, "He was the ugliest out of his siblings and no one ever wanted to take him home." But he was clearly living the good life, roaming freely around a very classy-looking place, with no need to steal to support himself.

Don't believe it? Watch the video here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Perfecting their technique


Repeated instances of fox home invasions have confirmed that the British are not safe from these creatures even in their own beds.

But when it comes to fox muggers, you probably figured the first one was a bizarre one-time incident. That was the time an English man was accosted in a supermarket parking lot by a fox that tried to steal his groceries. It only retreated when he gave up a loaf of garlic bread.

And then there was the case where a fox went for a more traditional street criminal's target: it actually stole a woman's handbag. But that story seemed to have a happy ending: the animal came back and returned the goods.

However, a recent development suggests that we should not find that so reassuring after all. In the most recent incident, the victim was again someone who'd just left a supermarket. This time, the fox got away with the London woman's entire bag full of groceries.

The trend is clear. The second fox no doubt belatedly realized the difficulty of trying to pass itself off as the owner of someone's credit cards. So the animals went back to attacking people carrying something actually useful to a fox, and this time, they got it right.

It looks like the testing phase is over, and these criminals are ready to get down to business. Now they know what to go after, and how to get it successfully. English grocery shoppers, watch your backs.


Oh, and if you think you're safe on my side of the pond? That photo by Flickr user flying white was taken in the US. A human at Yellowstone went without lunch that day for sure.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dangerous immigrants


You probably came here expecting a post about turkeys. But readers of this blog should already be well informed about the dangers of our national Thanksgiving dish. If not, I'm leaving you to catch up in the archives, because today's story is also a timely one.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there's been talk about why we don't have walls to hold back the sea in low-lying areas, like the sensible Dutch. But now Dutch planning and foresight are being threatened by an American native: the beaver.

Beavers were deliberately brought to the Netherlands by people who thought they'd improve the ecosystem, and who had apparently not read the history of introduced species like the cane toad, rabbits, camels, squirrels...

The beavers supposedly have the benefit of clearing understory and creating ponds that allow other wildlife to thrive. But they've also got other ideas:
The Netherlands' famous dykes protect the land from being flooded: without these sea defences huge swathes of the country would be underwater.
In areas where the dykes are directly connected to the water, the beavers are starting to burrow through the ground.
A beaver expert suggests using stones or mesh to stop the critters from burrowing. But these rodents breed like, well, rodents, and the current population of around 700 is expected to grow to 7000 by 2032.

We can only wish them good luck, because that's going to take a whole lot of stones.


Rodent with destruction on its mind by Flickr user Tancread.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Standing up to bad animals


A few encouraging tales of bad animals who are getting what's coming to them, for a change:

-A wolf found out the hard way not to stereotype people as easy victims. Trying to steal a calf from a Russian grandmother might have seemed like a cinch, but she wasn't having any of it. When she ran to defend her livestock, the wolf grabbed at her hand:
"I wanted to open his mouth and put my fist all the way there, all the way to his throat. But I could not open him. So I just left my hand, and the wolf was just clawing into it, pulling on it, pulling away like this. And then I took the axe and hit him on his head."
-Some women don't need an axe to defend their beloved animals - and here's a reason to keep subscribing to the paper copy of the newspaper that you probably never thought of. In Illinois, a woman let her 12-year-old Chihuahua out into the backyard and went to get the paper. She heard yelping, and returned to find him being attacked by two coyotes:
“I took my newspaper and kind of held it out like a sword, and I shooed it away — I beat the coyote away.”
 -And in England, one we need to keep an eye on: a repeat offender is under house arrest after disappearing for three weeks under suspicious circumstances.

Oscar the cat has earned a reputation after repeated attacks including one that put a 77-year-old man in hospital for a week. As is typical, his owner says Oscar is a sweetheart at home, and seems amused by his campaign of violence and psychological intimidation:
Owner miss Hughes joked that his ‘reign of terror’ started when she was regularly approached by dog owners who asked her to ‘call my cat off their dog’.
She said: “More recently a new neighbour had moved in to the street bringing four cats and a dog. The dog was terrified of him within days and the cats have long since stopped going outside because Oscar would just sit there and wait."
Oscar was even rewarded for his bad behavior a couple of years ago when he was asked to perform in an Ikea TV commercial. And as is also typical, some alleged experts have made excuses for the criminal. One theorized that his aggression might be due to a hearing problem which caused him to be easily surprised and disoriented when someone approaches, but even the owner was doubtful, saying that Oscar hates the sound of the vacuum and ‘when upstairs, he can even hear it when I open a sachet of food’.

As has been pointed out in connection with other British cat attacks, there's a law against dangerous dogs, but none against dangerous cats, so there was little authorities could do. So you have to wonder whether someone took the law into their own hands when Oscar disappeared, especially when one neighbor was quoted as saying, "People were hoping he would turn up in a body bag."

But Oscar was discovered to be living in another village when his bad behavior there - and a microchip - identified him as the famous fugitive.

So after three weeks on the lam, he's been returned to his owner, who seems to finally be taking the problem seriously. He's described as under "house arrest" and is no longer being allowed outside.*

Oscar's owner is reportedly also giving him a calming herbal remedy -- and planning to try to move to a house with a secure garden. But after her years of poo-pooing the problem, we'll be watching closely for updates on this story.


*Note that this is a much more serious sentence than it would be in the US: I've read statistics claiming that 90% of cats in England still are allowed outdoors and that shelters, opposite of US policy, may refuse to adopt to people who plan to keep cats indoors exclusively. And organizations like the RSPCA discuss keeping a cat indoors only in a way that makes it clear it's not the norm.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cuteness is only skin deep

In another story of authorities who are helpless to deal with bad animals, officials at a train station in India are appealing for help to solve their monkey problem.
"There were just a couple of monkeys initially. Their mischief on the platform was initially ignored. But then there was quite a proliferation of them. And now, after a few months, we have about 15 monkeys. And they have become quite a nuisance," said an official at the railway station.
There's nothing the monkeys don't want. "They don't hesitate to snatch mobile phones from passengers. They snatch food items, bags and other luggage," the harried official said.
Sounding like he was almost a little in awe of the simian troupe, the officer said: "They are an intelligent bunch. It is almost as if they understand announcements on the platforms. Soon as an announcement goes out on the public address system, they appear on the platform ready to snatch what they can find."
Their efforts to evict the primates have been fruitless, and wildlife officials have been no help. So they have been reduced to offering a reward to anyone who can come up with a solution.

I came across this story at the excellent Nothing to Do with Arbroath, and I often think I could just stop writing this blog and direct you all there for your weekly diet of bad animal news. But the reason I always decide against it is a telling one. To get your bad animal news there you have to scroll through the bad human news. Sure, the stories are amusing - it's the illustrations that are unpleasant:

Compare that mugshot with the one of the monkeys above, and is it any wonder why animals get away with what they do?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ferrets lying in wait for their chance


In all the years of this blog, the only crime committed by a ferret has been getting on a train without paying the fare. But you should not let that sort of thing lull you into a false sense of security regarding any particular species of animal. It's probably only a matter of time. And indeed it was in this case, as shown by this story out of England:
Disabled granny attacked by ferret as she rode mobility scooter in Bingham
Florence Taylor, 86, was on her way to the shops when the animal jumped into the scooter.
It bit her leg and hung on with its teeth piercing her flesh.
Mrs Taylor forced the ferret off, with the help of a neighbour, by beating it with her walking stick, but she was left in agony.
She said the animal was hanging on to her leg for several minutes.
The grandmother of ten, from Bingham, said: "Both of us were trying to knock it off but I could see its teeth hanging on.
"It was a traumatic experience."
She said: "My shoe was full of blood. It was very scary – I didn't know what to do."
After her daughter arrived and dressed the injury, the pensioner went to her GP where she was given a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics.
Typically, supposed experts expressed shock at the attack. A local man with two pet ferrets said they were in their cages at the time, and it couldn't have been them anyway, as they are "quite friendly," although another source admitted such behavior was not totally unheard-of:
Ferrets have a reputation as pleasant creatures. Andy Handley , chairman of the British Ferret Club, said: "It's not something I have come across often. They only bite generally if they are frightened. If they do bite because they are scared they will sink their teeth in and stay locked on."
And as we often see, authorities refused to step up to punish the criminal....
Notts Police said it was not a criminal matter. The RSPCA also said it was not something they would deal with.
...leaving the innocent and frail elderly to deal with this terror on their own:
Mrs Taylor, whose husband died 26 years ago, was unable to walk for several days. She said: "I do all my own shopping and usually go round to a friend's every morning but I haven't been able to since.
She added: "I will definitely be wary when I do go out."

 Ferret owners - or their neighbors - might want to buy that sign here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Possible porcine penalties


Has it really been almost a year since our last post about pigs? Don't let that fool you into believing the threat has diminished. Recently, a single wild boar on a rampage in Berlin sent three people to the hospital. And maybe he'd have gotten away with it if he'd stuck to the defenseless type of victim that he targeted to start: an elderly man and woman that he bit and knocked to the ground, and a woman whose only choice was to climb onto a car to get away.

But then the pig made the mistake of going after someone who was able to fight back: a police officer, who shot the swine dead.

As usual some minimize the danger. The news article concludes with the claim that wild boars in Berlin "rarely cause problems beyond digging up gardens." And on this side of the pond, problematic porkers actually have enablers. In the Boston area, authorities have finally incarcerated a pet pig that had been apprehended roaming loose in the neighborhood five separate times. The pig's owner acknowledged that he is basically a co-conspirator:
“The containment issue, it’s my negligence as far as being ­lazy some days and not penning him right, thinking he’s going to be all right,” Ruiz said. “But in three years, [there have been] 15 citations, half of them I paid because they’re only $15, but then I finally figured out they were looking to make a ­paper trail to pull a stunt.” So he stopped paying the penalties, he said.
But he's working to get the pig back - and he has supporters. During the recent hurricane, a woman in California had nothing better to worry about than calling the shelter to make sure Porkchop was OK.

Porkchop certainly is OK compared to some of the alternatives. This peripatetic piggy should contemplate what happened to his relative in Berlin, and be glad the penalty he's paying is so light... so far.

Monday, November 5, 2012

There'll always be an England...


....and it will always be a grand place to be a bad animal. No one can beat the English when it comes to going the extra mile for an animal... whether it needs it, or deserves it, or not. A few recent tales:

- A baby hedgehog crawled into an empty bags of crisps - that's potato chips for you Americans - and then occupied the attention of six people for three and a half hours when it couldn't get out, or at least they thought it couldn't get out... Because it was inside a fence around a stairwell, do-gooders had to cut through the iron railings to get at the no doubt terrified creature. The hedgehog, now being called Crispian, is being cared for by Prickles hedgehog rescue, where he is reportedly "is thriving and enjoying his daily saucer of cat meat/biscuits, oh and dried meal worms!!!"

- That critter might have really needed help, but you have to wonder what was in the minds of people who spent three hours trying to rescue a goat from a rocky ledge in West Yorkshire.  The goat had reportedly been "stuck" for five days, but when a team finally was lowered by rope to get close enough to touch her, she acted like any animal in her natural habitat: She jumped off the ledge and ran away.

- Finally, a bird rescue in Kent has gone to the press asking for help in rehoming one of its residents, resulting in the following article:
A foul-mouthed bird with a taste for human flesh is up for adoption.
So long as you don’t mind enduring a string of expletives during the day and the odd peck if you get too close, you may be interested in taking on Beaky, a chattering lory who is more bad bird than angry bird.
He didn’t just get his name from his blue language, but because he also enjoys biting people he doesn’t really know.
His favourite curse is the dreaded F-word, along with ‘a***hole’ and he likes to call everyone ‘stupid’. 
A spokesman said Beaky is an intelligent and playful bird who is a good mimic buthas picked up some colourful language.
He enjoys the company of people, but staff warn he may bite at first until he has formed a bond with someone.
Apparently the rescue has tried all the usual things and haven't been able to find Beaky a new owner. Reading that glowing recommendation, I can't imagine why.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feline breaking, entering, carousing


Nothing I could say could add anything to the perfection of this story out of Iceland:
Police in Suðurnes were, for possibly the first time in the history of the region, called out to break up a party being held by cats.

Morgunblaðið reports that residents living around a house known to be unoccupied for some time noticed several cats coming in and out of an open window. This piqued the curiosity of residents, who summarily called police to the location at around noon last Sunday.

Police arrived at the scene and, entering the house, found no people there. However, two to three cats - the exact number is still unclear - were allegedly occupying the house. According to police reports, the cats were "snuggling" on a couch that had been left behind by the previous residents.

Officers on the scene sprang into action, immediately evicting the cats from the house. They then ensured that all doors and windows into the house were securely closed and locked, in the hopes of preventing an incident of this sort from ever happening again.

If you live in the Suðurnes area and witness cats occupying abandoned homes and holding parties, you can contact the local police and rest assured that they will respond without hesitation.
 
Photo by Flickr user and cat enabler Julie.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The bad animals before the storm


Posting early, a bunch of bad animals to tide you over till I get power back (that I will lose it goes without saying):

The Tampa Bay Mystery Monkey finally taken into custody!

Video of a wild boar invading a bus station office and the brave woman who tries to defend herself with a stool

Science: Wild Monkeys Watch Fights to Exploit Losers for Grooming

And finally, a rare tale of a bad animal who repented:
Foxy thief snatches bag - then returns it to owner
"..He looked at me for a few seconds before letting out this feeble yelp.
“Next thing I knew he had my wife’s handbag in his mouth and was running towards the bushes.”
Jeremy screamed at the fox to drop the bag but he scuttled off out of sight.
He added: “Anna had everything in there: her phone, money, purse, keys and letters. I couldn’t believe the fox had just taken it – it was mad. I thought that was it.”
But a few minutes later the guilty looking fox crept back into the car park with his bushy tail between his legs. In his mouth was Anna’s bag which he dropped at her feet before running off.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Natural food doesn't help a bear's morals


On this blog we've seen bears stealing pizza, cake, candy, and submarine sandwiches. But like the rest of us, these junk food junkies sometimes take a stab at keeping to a natural food diet. And at this time of year, bulking up for winter, they'll stop at nothing to get it. The destruction above was left behind by bears that stole over a thousand dollars worth of honey from the Ballard Bee Company in Washington State.

And in Colorado, state wildlife officials suggest that birds are just going to have to go hungry till bears go into hibernation. They're telling people to leave their bird feeders empty to prevent the same kind of thing from happening in your backyard. (see the photo over at our Tumblr).

Not every government just lies down and takes it when bears behave this way, though. In coverage of the Ballard Bee devastation, Metro mentions one case where the justice system took this sort of thing seriously: In 2008, a Macedonian court convicted a bear of stealing  honey after a beekeeper's desperate attempts to ward it off with loud music failed when his generator ran out of power.

Still, although this was a righteous act of symbolic justice, the bear, as usual, got off scot-free:
Since it had no owner and belonged to a protected species, [the court] ordered the state to pay the 140,000 denars ($3,500) damage it caused to the hives.

There was no information on the whereabouts of the bear.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Why not stick with your own kind?


Thanks to submissions from our faithful readers, it's a hard choice this morning among bad animal news headlines. I thought this one was pretty good:
Deer breaks into home, demolishes bedroom
 but then I got this one:
Boston school goes into lockdown due to coyote concerns 
But then this is clearly the winner:
Elk relocated after having sex with cow in public
followed closely by that of the local news story that is the source for that one:
Elk banished from 100 Mile Ranch B.C. after falling in love with cow
The headline is more politely Canadian but article itself is explicit about the situation. After three years of lurking around the herd of cows, apparently a male elk finally got up the nerve to approach one of the lovely ladies. We'll never know what his pickup line was, but it was successful, according to the rancher:
“If you were there watching, it would be an X-rated movie. Several times a day.”
Sex wasn't the offense that got the elk banished, though - it was the possibility of violence. First, traffic was backing up as voyuers tried to get a look at the show. But then, he had to be removed for his own safety:
Messner said the final straw was when hunters turned up, the lure of a six-point rack potentially dangerously enticing.
“Trucks were pulling over and people were watching this poor elk through the scope of their gun and people were doing U-turns on the highway. It was becoming a real dangerous situation.”
Messner called in the conservation officer. He, the officer and two RCMP officers sedated the elk and removed its antlers to make it less appealing to hunters and less of a threat to the cows should it decide to return.
The elk was then loaded into a truck and taken about 20 kilometres out of town, towards the mountains.
Will the elk learn his lesson, and stick to his own kind in romance? The rancher, obviously wise in the ways of bad animals, doesn't think so.
“I kind of think he will be back next year,” said Messner.

Take a look at that attractive lady elk (by Flickr user alumroot). Why would a guy need to look elsewhere?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Presented without comment....


...just some added italics, because it's been far too long since we contemplated the evil that is dolphins:

The Ukrainan navy has restarted special training for dolphins and other animals for military duties including attacking enemy combat swimmers and detecting mines, a military source in the Ukrainian naval port of Sevastopol told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
"Ten dolphins are now being trained for special tasks in the Ukrainian state oceanarium, and the Ukrainian military are regularly training the animals for detecting things on the seabed," the source said.
The killer-dolphins will be trained to attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads, the source said. "We are now planning training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids," he said.


Oh, and the photo? That's a US Navy dolphin trained to "detect, locate and mark threat swimmers and divers attempting to commit terrorist attacks." The Navy says that it "does not now train, nor has it ever trained, its marine mammals to harm or injure humans in any fashion or to carry weapons to destroy ships." But of course they would say that, wouldn't they.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Canine classics


Some recent examples of several kinds of traditional canine bad behavior:

Dogs on Drugs:
We've seen dogs on pot before but now in Colorado it's an epidemic. The effects are familiar:
"They basically have lost a lot of their fine motor control, they have a wide-based stance and they are not sure on their feet," veterinarian Dr. Debbie Van Pelt said.
A vet who's studied the problem says it's due to the legalization of medical marijuana - the number of canine cases has quadrupled since the law went into effect:
Vets say they used to see dogs high on marijuana just a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up dogs as many as five times a week.
Dogs with Guns:
We've seen this so many times that it made it into the subtitle of the book, and although you'd think I'd be jaded by now, to me this is one that never gets old. This time in France:
The 55-year-old man, named only as Rene, said the animal accidentally pulled the trigger of his master's shotgun after jumping on top of him "for a cuddle".
The shot destroyed his right hand and he had to be taken by helicopter to a hospital in Bordeaux, where doctors were unable to save the limb.
As usual, an animal can get away with anything if it's cute enough:
"It wasn't the dog's fault," he said. "And he's adorable! I should have left the (gun's) safety on, that's all."
Fox home invasion:
 British foxes have been making a habit of entering people's property and biting them, often when they're asleep. In the most recent case, an elderly English gentleman was sleeping in a chair in his backyard when he was awoken by a pain in his hand: a fox was chewing on it.

We've seen a lot of useless reponses on the part of officials lately, but this one has to take the cake: here's what a neighbor was told when bothered by the same fox:
The council officer replied: “Well next time you see this fox, throw a blanket over him, carry him into your car and drive him to your nearest RSPCA.”
The RSPCA, to their credit, said "We wouldn’t encourage people to chase around after foxes or cover them with blankets.” But they offer no alternative, since it's only their problem if the fox is in trouble:
“If there is nothing wrong with the fox, then there is no reason we’d be involved."
Sorry, citizens of Britain, but apparently you are on your own.

 Dog that's suspiciously comfortable with a gun by Flickr user Waldo Jaquith.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is the end in sight for the Mystery Monkey?


Last time we heard of the notorious Tampa Bay Mystery Monkey, he was reported to be living in the yard of a family that only spoke to reporters with the promise that their location would not be revealed.

But their attempt to protect the fugitive has been foiled by his own bad behavior. Apparently he also visited another Florida home nearly every day - and now he's bitten one of the residents:
The woman was sitting outside when the monkey bit her on her back, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. After the bite, the woman stood up and the monkey bit her again.
The daughter of the 60-year-old woman whom the monkey attacked... said she was inside her home cooking a meal Monday when she heard her mother scream from the front porch.
The animal had jumped on her mother's back, scratching and gnawing on her skin as she rose from a chair.
"She could hear the clicking of teeth," her daughter said.
The woman reached behind, grabbed the monkey's leg and tossed him into the bushes before he ran off.
The father of other family denied that this could be the same monkey:
"Does not seem like Monk at all," he wrote of the reported attack. "He has been sleeping on the porch and just in general relaxing. No difference in his attitude at all." 
The family of the bitten woman seems to have always had more sense than these folks, and recognized the danger.  The monkey was "never aggressive," but:
He would playfully slap the 40-pound family dog, who'd run inside.
Out of concern, the family members purchased a pellet gun. They never shot it, but simply showing it to the monkey would cause him to leave.
They occasionally sprayed the monkey with water to shoo him away, but he would always come back.
But when they reported their concerns to Fish and Wildlife officials, they were reportedly told to stay away from the monkey and everything would be OK.

Seeing how that advice has worked out, authorities have finally been spurred into action, and are setting traps for the monkey. But assuming they are skilled enough to trap the wily creature, his ultimate fate is still unknown:
If the monkey is captured, he may be euthanized, though the victim could sign a waiver to save the monkey's life.
And in fact, the monkey-huggers may ultimately win this battle. The victim claims in a video to just want him to be "reunited with other monkeys." "I love him too," she says, "I just want to see him in a safe place."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Penguin Invasion


Today, another one of those stories that arrives at a low point and gives me the will to go on blogging: The sad tale of a town in South Africa that has been invaded by penguins.

They are everywhere: in the bushes, on the lawn, the patio, the driveway - they've even been caught breaking and entering homes.

The African penguin might be endangered, but homeowners in Stony Point in Betty's Bay believe the breeding birds are "endangering" the lives of residents.
Thousands of African penguins are driving people in the Western Cape town crazy. While many have holiday homes there, "79 and a quarter-year-old" Barbara Wallers has lived in the area since 1947, and said she gets little sleep because the birds make too much noise.
"Just a month ago, I found one in my kitchen that s**t all over the floor. I tried to get it out with a swatter, but it wouldn't go. Eventually someone caught it," said Wallers, as she tried to chase dozens of penguins from her friend's property.
"Listen to them. They grunt and bellow and squeak all night. I can't sleep," she said.
"When I call the authorities to complain, they say I am rude. Who wouldn't be?"
Wallers said they have always had the occasional penguin in the garden, but in the last two years things have got out of hand.
Johannes Klopper, a retired medical doctor from Durbanville, said the penguins have kept him away from his holiday home.
"On my property I have between 30 to 50 nests. They cause such a big mess that it really has become a health hazard. My wife doesn't want to go there now because we cannot sleep at night," said Klopper.
He said it is difficult for him, at his age, to clean up the guano that smells terrible and kills plants.
Klopper and Wallers claim the municipality promised to erect a fence large enough to keep the waddling birds away from the homes, but it has been an empty promise.
The existing fence has not been maintained and is riddled with holes.
 As usual, there are also locals who side with the bad animals:
However, Mike Oosthuyzen, who has a holiday house there, said he did not mind the penguins and liked having them in his garden.
And authorities, typically, claim that their hands are tied: The situation will "hopefully" improve when the fence is extended - but this can't be be done for several months until the breeding season is over.

The press perhaps misses part of the point here as well:
They are also called Jackass penguins because of their "donkey-like bray", which keeps Stony Point residents wide awake at night. 
because clearly that's not the only reason that this bird's name suits them.




Thanks again for making life worth living to Nothing to Do with Arbroath.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birds birds birds


We just did a bad bird roundup a week ago, but the stories keep coming in:

-When Owls Attack: These days, a generation that grew up with Harry Potter is left with a fondness for owls, but reality is much less charming than fiction. In the Washington DC area, recurring owl attacks on innocent pedestrians are making the news. "I felt this scraping sensation along the right side of my head, and much to my amazement an owl flew away," a jogger told WTOP, saying the attack came with no warning: "You don't hear a thing. Now I know what a squirrel feels like." Another victim told the Washington Post of being attacked three times in a row.

One DC official made excuses, as these wildlife "experts" often do: claiming that the jogger's ponytail was likely mistaken for a tasty squirrel. But a scientist consulted by the Post knows the real deal:
When he studies owl nestlings, Bierregaard wears safety glasses and a lacrosse helmet.
-Kamikaze starlings:
A mass collision between a flock of starlings and a car on a stretch of Austrian expressway has left up to 100 of the birds dead and the driver shaken but unhurt.
The Austria Press Agency says the birds suddenly flew from power lines above the multi-lane highway in western Austria downward and directly into the path of the car.
Just an accident? Or a plan that went awry, leaving the driver unharmed?

-Hope is the thing with a spray can:

The kea parrot of New Zealand (in the photo above) is famous for being able to virtually disassemble cars with its beak -they're not afraid of the police, either - and for its nasty habit of eating sheep alive.

Despite this hooliganism the kea was made a protected species, making it difficult to fight back. But now there's hope in the form of a weapon that, ironically, comes out of an effort to protect them. A product was designed to keep the birds from eating poison meant for introduced species - and now it's going to be made into a spray-on kea repellent.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Animals vs. Technology


Animals vs the power grid: Causing blackouts is a classic form of animal mayhem, but the culprits are mostly fliers or tree-climbers: snakes, raccoons, squirrels, cats including one bobcat and more birds than I can possibly link to here. It's hardly even newsworthy for this blog, unless it's cows: in Scotland, the power company blamed a blackout on cows rubbing against poles.

Animal vs video camera: Here's a video of what happens when a seagull steals a camcorder.

Animals keeping up with the latest developments: New tech means new ways for animals to make trouble. The picture above is of a bear stealing an iPad from a campsite, and of course someone took video of that too. Yes,the devices have a remote tracking function, but it probably won't work in the remote San Bernadino mountains.... and even if it did, would you walk up to a bear and ask for your iPad back?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bad bird roundup


A bunch of birds who were no doubt hoping to fly under my radar while I was away:

-Sarasota Woman Recovering from Duck Attack
"I wasn't bothering him, I wasn't feeding him, I wasn't doing anything to him," Cardozo said. "He raked my legs until I was a bloody mess."

Cardozo managed to call for help on her cell phone. She can be heard on the 911 tape saying: “I was attacked by a duck! I am bleeding like a stuck pig on both of my legs.”
-Seagulls target roof with practice golf balls
A Paignton woman is getting a bit teed off after gulls have taken to dropping plastic practice golf balls on her living room roof.
She said: "It all started a few months back at the start of the fine weather. I was sitting in my living room one evening when I heard something land on the roof and then roll down and into the back yard."
Tony Whitehead, RSPB spokesman, said: "What you will often see at the seaside with gulls is that they use a similar method to this to open mussels.
"They carry them up into the air and drop them to crack them open. This sort of behaviour is quite well known in gulls, they are very clever creatures. They probably see the balls as potential food, but then gulls see most things as potential food."

And we'll end with this headline of one win in the battle against bad animals:

-Whitchurch man fined £135 over noisy ducks


 Thanks for keeping up with these to the always interesting Nothing to Do with Arbroath, which is always on the case with weird animal (and other) news.

Attacking ducks by Flickr user Jaque Tseng. Hope he was OK.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What I missed


Some of the bad animals that were hoping I wasn't watching while I was in Japan:

- Woman, 83, attacked by rabid beaver at Lake Barcroft in Fairfax County
The creature knocked Lillian Peterson off her feet as she was climbing out of Lake Barcroft after a swim. The 83-year-old woman twisted around to see what attacked her and noticed one thing: large, orange teeth.

A 35-pound, 24-inch rabid beaver had bitten her on the back of the leg and would not let go, sparking an ordeal that lasted more than 20 minutes Tuesday evening. The Falls Church woman and a friend battled the animal with canoe paddles, a stick and bare hands as it came at them again and again. Peterson was seriously injured.

- Illegal monkey living on Frosted Flakes bites woman

A Javan macaque monkey being kept as a pet and living on a diet that included Frosted Flakes and juice has been quarantined after it bit a Paso Robles woman multiple times on the hand and arm.
The monkey, which authorities said was being kept illegally as a pet, attacked the woman Aug. 29, inflicting several severe bites to her arm and fingers.
Quotes from the county Animal Services Manager make it unclear whether it's the bitten woman he's most concerned about:

“This kind of animal is never meant to be kept domestically. It is illegal... It lived on a diet including Frosted Flakes and juice. We strongly discourage the keeping of any such animal." He added: "And that is entirely the wrong kind of diet.”

- Man injured by grizzly in Madison Range

This was another case where officials seemed unclear whose side they were on:

He was using an elk call when the grizzly emerged from nearby brush, jumped on the man, bit him and ran off. Jones says the grizzly was not killed because it was acting defensively.
Reports did not clarify why a bear would feel the need to defend itself from an elk call.

 Beaver teeth by Flickr user born1945.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Japan Bad Animal Report, Part 2


As I mentioned before I left, I went to Tokyo in hope of meeting a bad animal that I'd heard much about, the city's famous crows. I'd even seen an entire movie about them not long ago. So along with fulfilling my lifelong goal of seeing a dugong, this was one of my priorities for the trip.

I'd read about the city's years-long struggle against crows getting into the trash, and it wasn't hard to catch them in the act: this picture was taken one morning barely half a block from the inn I was staying at:


 
And the warning in the sign pictured above (in Ueno Park) was verified as necessary by my Japanese friend, whose son had had food snatched from him by these winged delinquents. And it's not just a child that would lose a battle over a snack to these creatures. What I hadn't been prepared for was how huge the birds are: They look twice as big as the crows in my own backyard.

And yet as we see again and again everywhere around the world, no matter how bad an animal is, there are those that admire it. I visited a particular crow-related site on the advice of this blog entry which relates some of the problems crows create and then delves into their place in Japanese folklore.

One particular rather interminable tale is about a three-legged crow sent by the gods which is now, among other things, used as the symbol of Japanese soccer, presumably because an extra leg is so useful in a sport where you can't use your hands.

The blog mentions a temple where you can see these crows on the lanterns in the main hall, fairly conveniently located in Shinjuku, so it seemed appropriate to make a pilgrimage to a place that honors these bad animals.

So you know in case you ever visit, everything in Tokyo is much farther from the train station than it sounds like it is, the train stations themselves are several blocks long so if you get out the wrong end that adds to that problem, and what's more, in early September it was still in the mid-nineties with eleventythousandpercent humidity. But I felt that my schlepp was amply rewarded when I arrived and the shrine was immediately approached by this worshipper - look closely and by his feet, you'll see a soccer ball:


All in all, a successful trip to see bad animals in action and the people who revere them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Japan bad animal report, part 1

This is a sign on an exhibit at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo which is shared by a tapir, a llama and a capybara. It has warnings for all three animals, reading right to left, roughly:

Caution, the tapir can hit you with pee at five meters
Caution, the llama can hit you with spit
Caution, the capybara can hit you with its cuteness.

Apparently in Japanese "hit with cuteness" is a regularly used idiom. Given the pernicious effects of cute animals on people, we need to adopt a term like this in English.

(Another note: These animals don't share the exhibit nicely. They used to, but now they don't get along, so now they have to switch off and you can only see the capybara till around 10:30 and then it's tapir time for the rest of the day.)