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.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Going off to do field work

The blog is taking a brief hiatus while I travel, hoping to do some reporting on the scourge of crows in Tokyo.  I suggest two ways to use your free bad-animal-reading time:

 This lengthy article in the New York Times (and this followup) about our friend the Tampa Mystery Monkey,

 And speaking of mystery, The Sloth's Eye is finally available as a very reasonably priced ebook at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can read more about it at my website. It's a mystery that centers on a bad animal - perhaps the people turn out to be worse, but after all, it's fiction. Please support my lonely efforts to tell the world the truth about bad animals!

(Oh, and for some less wordy fun: Have you caught up lately with the Animals Behaving Badly Tumblr?)