Do or Die

An article from Do or Die Issue 9. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 101-102.

Animal Antics

In the Bally of the Beast!

"Huge numbers of grunting cod have been blamed by Norwegian scientists for posing a risk to the country's military security. According to a recent analysis, millions of tiny grunting sounds emitted by the cod during the mating season can create background noise loud enough to blot out sounds of suspicious maritime activity. The fish are overriding sonar systems, making it almost impossible to navigate safely under the waters of the Norwegian Sea." - Bizarre magazine, No.18, March 1999.

"While pursuing a complaint from a farmer in Chaguanas, central Trinidad, that someone had stolen his livestock, police chased a rental car with its headlights off. The driver escaped, and police found a goat wearing a shirt, pants and a hat and a sheep wearing a dress in the back seat. There were two more goats - in shirts and pants - in the trunk." - Orange County Register, 16/5/99, in Fortean Times, No.126, September 1999.

"View halloo turned to tally-ho as the in-season Exmoor pack chased a fox into fields at Winsford, Somerset, used by East Dulverton hunt. The fox was soon gone and forgotten when an all-male pack of hounds picked up the scent of 30 broody bitches from a rival hunt. The dogs did what comes naturally - and it took furious huntsmen 90 minutes to separate them." - Daily Mirror, 21/2/95.

"A group of orangutans at the National Zoological Park in Washington DC are going to be taught the rules of commerce. The apes will be paid a daily allowance of metal coins which they can spend on buying bananas, popcorn and other items. Zoologists hope the orangutans will prove adept at handling numbers, judging the value of an item, and maybe even start trading among themselves." - Bizarre magazine, No.21, June 1999.

"Amelia Roybal opened her front door to see who was ringing the bell - and in walked a 2ft tall drunken monkey. He seemed determined to make himself at home. He lurched towards the drinks cabinet, poured himself a large whisky and slurped it down... the monkey, who turned out to be named Myron, continued drinking and became steadily more aggressive. "He went bananas," said Amelia, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, "and my husband couldn't take the bottle from him." Then the tipsy monkey started throwing china at the couple. When they cornered him in the laundry room, Myron retaliated by filling the washing machine with soap powder and raising a storm of suds. Myron was happily eating the plastic fruit in the dining room when the law appeared in the person of Deputy Sheriff Frank Garcia. Amelia said: "The deputy came in acting brave - but that didn't last long. As soon as Myron saw the blue uniform he raided the pantry and started shying potatoes and oranges at us with considerable accuracy." Reinforcements arrived and soon 5 deputies and 7 members of the Roybal family were trying to corner Myron. He was eventually captured by 3 men with a large net and taken to the animal shelter where he sat, back to the world, with his head clasped in his hands, suffering, no doubt, from a man-size hangover." - Weekend magazine, 15-21st June 1977.

"'Laddie' and 'Boy' were trained as detector dogs for drugs raids. Their employment was terminated following a raid in the Midlands in 1967. While the investigating officer questioned two suspects, they patted and stroked the dogs who eventually fell asleep in front of the fire. When the officer moved to arrest the suspects, one dog growled at him while the other leapt up and bit his thigh." - The Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile (Futura, 1980) p.90.

"For instance, he was out walking with a tame raven one afternoon. The bird was free-flying and, in order to keep it close to him, Lorenz [Konrad Lorenz, pioneer of animal behaviour studies] had taken the precaution of filling one of his pockets with small pieces of raw meat. Every so often, he would call to the bird (he was fluent in Raven) and as it approached, would put his hand into the meat-pocket, take out a strip of meat, and feed it to his great, black companion. This procedure meant that, although the raven would zoom off into the sky, it always kept a bright, beady corvine eye on Konrad's movements, as he wandered across the summer fields. They continued like this for several hours, with the bird returning regularly to Lorenz's side for a further tidbit. As it was a hot day, Lorenz had drunk copiously at lunch-time and now needed to relieve himself. As there was nobody about, he moved near a hedge, undid his trousers, and started to do so. The raven's sharp eye had observed Lorenz undoing his trousers and assumed that he was opening another pocket to extract a fresh piece of meat. Swooping down with a raucous cry, the great bird seized this new piece of meat, clamping down tightly on it with its massive powerful beak. Lorenz let out a roar like a wounded bull and began leaping dementedly about in the corner of the field. The raven was nonplussed by this extraordinary behaviour and could not understand why its human friend was so reluctant to hand over a piece of meat that was so plainly meant for its consumption. Placing its huge feet firmly on Lorenz's body, the bird started to tug fiercely at the stubbornly resistant food-offering, like a blackbird trying to pull an earthworm from a garden lawn. Lorenz claims that he nearly fainted from pain and loss of blood, but it is more likely to have been shock." - Animal Days by Desmond Morris (Jonathan Cape, 1979) pp.48-49.

"A wild duck took revenge on a hunter in New Zealand's North Island during a shooting trip in May 1985. It dived out of the sky, knocking him out and leaving him with two black eyes, a broken nose and cracked glasses. It killed itself in the process." - Would You Believe It? by Philip Mason (Futura, 1990) p.10.

"In the Falkland Islands... reputedly a favoured entertainment of bored Harrier pilots patrolling the coast is penguin toppling. Allegedly when the pilots come across a penguin colony, they catch the birds' attention by flying slowly backwards and forwards in front of them until all the penguins are watching the plane. As they fly left, all the penguins' heads turn left to follow them - back to the right and the penguins turn that way. They do this a few times until the whole colony is behaving like Wimbledon spectators. Then they fly out to sea with the birds still watching, turn the plane round and zoom back directly over the penguins' heads at high speed. All the birds crane upwards to try to follow the rocketing plane - and 10,000 penguins fall flat on their backs." - Fortean Times Book of Exploding Pigs, by Ian Simmons (John Brown Publishing, 1997) p.46.

Many thanks to the authors of Rolf Harris - True Animal Tales and Beastly Behaviour - and of course to the great old didge-blowing ham himself.

Do or Die DTP/web team: