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.