Thursday, May 30, 2013

Animals even worse in real life than as political symbols

Today we've got two animal-related problems that even I never thought to be afraid of:

Elephant escapes circus and rams family home
A family in Värnamo in southern Sweden awoke on Sunday morning to find an Indian elephants wandering about in their garden after having escaped from a circus which had set up camp in the vicinity.
The Enoksson family caught the whole elephantine drama on film and could be heard becoming increasingly anxious as the animal approached and collided with their house.

"We became very frightened and then we heard a crash in the wall of the house," said Sofia Enoksson to the Aftonbladet daily, which has broadcast the film.

The elephants had apparently evaded the attention of their handlers at a circus which had made its base near the residential neighbourhood in the small Swedish town.

The elephants eventually lumbered off across a field and the family called the police who in turn called the circus to enquire as to what was being done to deal with the matter.

"One hopes that they have a carer who can entice them with some carrots," said Göran Gunnarsson at Jönköping police to Aftonbladet.

The circus is reported as having claimed to have been in control of the elephants.
Killer donkeys maul senior citizen to death on Hungarian farm 
Authorities originally thought that Sandor Horvath had been ripped apart by wolves — the autopsy proved otherwise.
Sandor Horvath was bitten and trampled on by the deadly duo as he was visiting a farm in Magyarszecsod, Hungary, last week.
Police say the retired firefighter was chased and pulled off his mobility scooter by the beasts.

They then dragged him along the ground for more than 50 yards.
The donkeys reportedly received the death penalty for their crime, but that's no reason to let down your guard.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Passing the buck for the holiday

I was planning to post a commentary on this article about a couple who is planning a "dolphin-assisted birth," but it's a holiday, and this excellent post by Christie Wilcox already says it all. I recommend it even if you're a faithful reader of this blog who alreadys knows what a terrible idea this is. (Especially don't miss the link to the Penn and Teller show on dolphins.)

And when you're done with that you might also enjoy 7 Reasons Killer Whales are Evil Geniuses  at The Atlantic. (One reason: they kill dolphins - if your friends don't believe it, check out even more photos like the one above.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

News Briefs: Animals where they shouldn't be

Animals where the neighbors think they shouldn't be:
Pot-Bellied Pig Stench Causes Neighborhood Ruckus  
The stench coming from Moo, Hoot, Quack and Ribbet, a foursome of pot-bellied pigs living it up in a suburban neighborhood backyard, has neighbors fuming mad.

Animal politely leaves place where it shouldn't be:
Deer gets on, off city bus
 The bus was carrying one female passenger when the deer crashed through the windshield of it. "The driver immediately stopped the bus,"  Yoder said. "He opened the door and the deer just walked off the bus."

Animals that make people grateful for previous animals that were where they weren't supposed to be:
Invasive "Crazy Ants" are displacing fire ants
"When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back," said LeBrun. "Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound."
LeBrun said that crazy ants, by contrast, "go everywhere." They invade people's homes, nest in crawl spaces and walls, become incredibly abundant and damage electrical equipment.

Animal comes to its senses about being where it shouldn't be:
Escaped raccoon breaks back into zoo
  "Clearly the grass wasn't greener on the other side."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Persistent pests

Two far-flung instances of bad animals that won't take no for an answer:

In Tampa, a bear was captured out of a tree in a backyard - not for the first time:
Deputies and wildlife officers responded to the scene, and shortly after 10 a.m., they shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart. The official shot him again several minutes later, and the bear fell out of the tree.
Officials said the bear, which appears to weigh about 400 pounds, has a tag, which means he has interacted with humans before. 
According to FWC spokesman Gary Morse, the bear was originally found in Orlando months ago. Wildlife officials trapped him and took him to the Ocala National Forest, which is where officials said they plan to return the bear.
And in Britain, they're trying to save a swan with an even riskier habit - after losing his mate, he's fallen in love with a helicopter:
In 2012 Whooper took a liking to an incoming EC155 Eurocopter and became completely besotted with the machine.

He would chase it down the runway without fear of rejection or close encounters with the chopper's rotor blades.
Fearing a bird strike, the airport fire service ordered Whooper's owners to clip his wings.
But when his feathers grew back, the potentially fatal attraction grew stronger, and Whooper had to be clipped again.
Staff at Les Mielles Country Club are now searching for a female swan to keep their amorous bachelor company.
Danielle Le Brun, from the club, said: "He has taken a liking to the helicopter. He would chase it and try to get as close to it as possible which is not safe for him or the helicopter."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Know your bad animals, and know how to use them

As we've seen again and again, it's amazing what animals can do and still people don't realize their true nature. A bird is a repeat attacker:
A HUGE eagle owl that terrorised pedestrians and left one man in hospital has finally been caught.The bird of prey, with a wingspan of more than six feet, knocked John Mackay, 58, to the ground in January, and left him with a gash to the back of his head.
It also attacked Noel Hill, 50, from behind. He told how he had to fight off the bird with his fists.
and yet:
Joe Ross, who works as a barman near where the owl was captured, said there was a big crowd taking pictures of the bird before the SSPCA moved in.
He said: “The owl wasn’t doing anything. It was just sitting there on a vent on the procurator fiscal’s building.
“I saw it when it was here before. It’s a nice bird.”
 Elsewhere we've got police unclear on the concept of "danger":
The animal is one of three racoons that escaped after a branch damaged their enclosure at the Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre during a storm in January. Two have since been recovered.The force said it had recently received several sightings of the small mammal.
A force spokeswoman said: "The raccoon is not dangerous. However, it may give a nasty bite should it be cornered."
Some people never learn. But in Kenya, some people not only know bad animals when they see them, but know how to use them for their own ends:
Kenyan demonstrators released two dozen piglets at the gates of parliament and poured blood on the pavement Tuesday to protest demands by newly elected lawmakers for a wage hike.

Police, who fired tear gas to disperse the protestors and beat others with truncheons, scurried after the pigs as they scampered through the grassy area surrounding the parliament.

“We will not allow members of parliament to increase their salaries at will,” shouted one of the protest organisers Okiya Omtatah.

“They are greedy just like the pigs we have brought here,” Omtata added.

Some of the piglets had been daubed with the names of specific MPs on their bodies.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bears vs Cars

We've seen bears get into cars several times before but we haven't reported on one since 2011.
You might have thought you were safe... till now: A Florida woman's car was torn to shreds when a bear was smart enough to get inside, but dumb enough to lock itself in.
Randy Moon told that he woke up around 2:30 a.m. early Monday morning when he heard a ruckus outside of the Paisley, Fla. house that he shares with his daughter Heather Bybee and her two kids.
“I looked outside at the car and saw the dash light on. There was a bear tearing it all to pieces, going from side to side,” Moon said.
Moon grabbed the car keys to unlock the door to the Toyota Matrix for the discombobulated bear, which he says had likely been trapped inside for a few hours.
“I stood there and opened the door — the bear and I were face-to-face. I said, ‘you gotta get out of here.’ He was foaming in the mouth,” Moon said.
Once the door was open, the bear ran off. But Bybee’s car, which was covered in paw prints, was a shambles. The car’s interior consoles were destroyed, the interior roof was clawed through and the doors had been scratched to pieces.
Moon said that the car, which he helped his daughter buy four months ago, is totaled.
 The only sensible comment on this event came from the car owner's young son:
"I don't like bears. Just tear up everything like a wild animal."

Photographic evidence that this sort of thing goes back as long as there have been cars, from Flickr user born1945.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Poop-encrusted Paradise

From La Jolla, California, a story that we missed back in April:

Tourists flock to the place. So do birds. Lots of birds. And with those birds comes lots of poop.

So rather than gasping in amazement at the beautiful views, some are holding their noses from the stench coming from the droppings that cake coastal rocks and outcroppings near its business district.

"We've had to relocate tables inside because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my God. I can't handle the smell,'" said Christina Collignon, a hostess at Eddie V's, a steak and seafood restaurant perched on a cliff straight up from the guano-coated rocks.

On a recent afternoon, tourists on spring break walked along the sea wall. Some scrunched up their faces in disgust.

"It smells like something dead," said Meghan Brummett as she looked at the birds with her husband and children. The family was visiting from Brawley, a farming town two hours east of San Diego.

Biologists say the odor is the smell of success: Environmental protections put in place over the past few decades have brought back endangered species.
"We're kind of a victim of our own success," said Robert Pitman, a marine biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla. "We've provided a lot of bird protections so now we're getting a lot of birds. "
At least he uses the word "victim." As usual, some don't see the problem even when it's right in front of them:
"I think they are a tourist attraction and this is a tourist area so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to try to get rid of them," said Manns, a waitress who often hears complaints about the stench wafting by the seaside tables at the Goldfish Point Cafe.
An odd idea of a tourist attraction... if this is success, I say count me out.

One individual in La Jolla who doesn't hesitate to yell at the cormorants to get out of there photographed by Flickr user San Diego Shooter.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bad News Briefs

Three headlines that need no comment:

Truckee Man Finds Bear Trapped in His Truck
“At one point, he had both hands up on the steering wheel, honking the horn with his snout. It was pretty amazing for awhile.”

Crow Ruffles Feathers on Golf Course
"I’ve seen him take a $5 note out of somebody’s wallet and one of my playing partners lost a pair of sunglasses,” golfer Andrew Long told 7News.
He often swoops in to try and steal food, tees and the occasional ball, and according to members, the crow has even been known to make off with a pack of cigarettes.
But he seems to have taken a particular liking to the clubhouse delicacies.
“A mate of mine went up and bought a pie one Saturday and he came back down and took the pie off the buggy seat and it must’ve been hot because he dropped it in the middle of the pond,”
A Police Dog Ate My Hamster
A DRUGS bust took a bizarre twist when a police sniffer dog ate a pet hamster, a court was told.

During the raid on a house in Bath Street, Werneth, a drugs dog was allowed to walk around the house and knocked over a hamster cage, releasing the animal inside.

The dog chased and ate the hamster whole before being forced to cough up the now-dead animal.

No drugs charges were brought against Muza Khan (46) — but he appeared at Oldham Magistrates Court yesterday to answer RSPCA cruelty accusations after officers discovered a bald parakeet in distress during their raid.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

More animal arson

As we've mentioned here before, animals are frequently credited with saving their owners from fires, but it's less frequently noted that they also sometimes start them.

This week there was one case that it's hard to know how to score: the dog alerted the family before the fire spread, sure, but the fire itself was caused by sun reflected off the dog's own water bowl onto the wooden siding of the house.

But another recent case should be a lesson for dog owners about not leaving food unattended, because the result can be worse than just loss of your dinner:
A puppy who was tempted by Yorkshire puddings left on top of the cooker managed to start a house fire in Eastway, Eastfield.
The incident, at 7.45pm on Tuesday, started when the pup, who was home alone, jumped up to reach the tasty treats and switched the hob on.
A pan sitting on the hob, along with its contents, caught fire. The fire spread to the hob and part of the kitchen, causing approximately five square metres of fire damage. The house was also smoke damaged throughout.
A spokesman from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said: “The puppy was unharmed. It is not known if the puppy managed to eat any of the Yorkshire puddings.”