Look. Let's just get this out of the way. I know this is going to seem like some bullshit listicle about animals doing stuff—and yeah, it KIND OF IS, I GUESS, in that it's literally a listicle of animals doing stuff—but what you have to understand is that I really, really give a shit about animals doing stuff.
Like, I still have my complete set of Zoobooks circa 1987-1991 in an airtight plastic container (in a garage loft covered in inch-thick bat guano, but that is neither here nor there). So do not fucking condescend to me about how a spider is an arachnid and not a insect, or how a koala is not actually a bear. Do not attempt to dazzle me with facts about how orcas kill great white sharks, or how peregrine falcons can dive 200 mph. I read My Side of the Fucking Mountain. And duuuuuuhhh, yes, I am aware that a seal and a sea lion are not the same animal—you'll just have to excuse me for one second while I look up which is the one with ears (I'M AN ENTHUSIAST, NOT A BIOLOGIST).
When shit goes all Mickey-Mouse, I turn to my animal stories. Obviously I love stories about animals being amazing and adorable and inspiring and fuzzy, but I especially love stories about animals who just fucked up human shit all over town. So in case you're having an upside-down day, here (in no particular order) are my most favorite stories of animal crime.
The Universe: Yo, goose, don't you know that Fabio's chiseled flesh-beak is his meal ticket to bucks-town?
Goose: I DON'T EVEN CARE FLAP FLAP SMASH BTW WHY IS EVERYONE ELSE ON THIS ROLLER-COASTER DRESSED LIKE SWEDISH APHRODITE OH WELL ENJOY FABIO'S NOSE-BLOOD #GOOSEYOLO
When it comes to unbearably horrific bear attacks, honorable mentions obviously go to Old Two-Toes, the grizzly who ate Timothy Treadwell, and the Sloth Bear of Mysore, who bore the mark of Cain (NEVER A GOOD SIGN IN YOUR APEX PREDATOR). But personally, for sheer ambition and scope, I prefer the tale of Kesagake—the brown bear who went out looking for some delicious corn and wound up devouring an entire Japanese village.
Yayo, Miyoke Yasutarō's wife, was preparing a late repast while carrying her fourth son, Umekichi, on her back. She heard a rumbling noise outside, but before she could investigate the bear broke through a window and entered the house. The cook pot on the hearth was overturned, dousing the flames, and in the ensuing panic the oil lamp was put out as well, plunging the house into darkness. Yayo tried to flee the house, but her second son, Yūjirō, clung to her legs, tripping her as she ran. The bear attacked her and bit the child Umekichi, whom she was carrying.
Odo had remained at the house as the only bodyguard. When he ran for the door, the bear released the mother and child to pursue him. Yayo then escaped with her children. Odo attempted to hide behind furniture, but was clawed in the back. The bear then mauled Kinzō, the third son of the Miyoke family, and Haruyoshi, the fourth son of the Saito family, killing them, and bit Iwao, third son of Saitō family. Next to be targeted was Take, Saitō Ishigorō's pregnant wife. As the animal advanced she pled for her life and that of her unborn child, but it was in vain. She too was attacked, killed, and partially eaten.
Kesagake was eventually shot and killed by Yamamoto Heikichi, the drunken sniper—but not until he had taken out seven villagers and led hunters on a crazy week-long Rambo chase through the surrounding forest. In the following years, everyone peaced-out of the village and left it to the ghosts.
It is important to note—and this goes for all of the animal stories included in this post—animals are not monsters. Unless they are starving or accustomed to being fed by foolish humans, bears are not out to get you. Most bear attacks are the result of either unbridled hubris or supreme bad luck. As I wrote back in 2009, when I first started paying attention to marauding bears:
As far as I can discern, contrary to what [sensationalist media] would have me believe, a bear will only eat you if: 1. You get too close to its baybay, 2. You get too close to its moose carcass, 3. You keep it in a concrete pen and throw dog food at it. Do not do these things, and you will not experience the sinking feeling that comes with a bear's hot mouth closing on your face.
Did you know that hippos eat 150 lbs of grass per day? They love it! It's their food! But that doesn't stop them from tipping over human canoes and chomping man-flesh just for the shits of it. Asshole behavior like that is what makes them one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. One hippo on the Congo River has terrorized so many residents with his gratuitous flip-chomping that he's been nicknamed Osama bin Hippo. (Osama bin Hippo was eventually taken out by Seal SEAL Team Six. Get it, because seals.)
If no one has ever told you about the time that President Jimmy Carter was chased around by a big rabbit, then your life has been shitty up until this point and I am sorry. In April of 1979, President Jimmy Carter was fishing on a lazy river in his hometown of Plains, GA, when an unhinged swamp rabbit jumped in the water and began swimming menacingly toward the President's boat. The rabbit chased the President for an undisclosed amount of time, after which the President was finally able to deter the terrifying beast by slapping the water with his paddle. The Jimmy Carter Swamp Rabbit Incident—referred to in the press as "PRESIDENT ATTACKED BY RABBIT"—is probably the best rabbit-related event ever to happen to a sitting U.S. president, and definitely inspired the greatest collection of English words ever committed to ink and paper:
The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits.
The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. THE PRESIDENT CONFESSED TO HAVING HAD LIMITED EXPERIENCED WITH ENRAGED RABBITS. I will literally get that tattooed on my body if one of you draws it up in your finest calligraphy. Literally maybe.
Emboldened, no doubt, by the Japanese Penguin Who Goes to the Store Wearing a Backpack, Sam the seagull enjoys popping into the bodega for a quick snack. But the difference between Sam and that penguin is that Sam doesn't pay for shit. He just yoinks all the Doritos he wants and then flops away down the street glorifying obesity like motherfuckin' Robert Birdratheon.
Me, still, three years after watching this video: 0__________________o
Aaaaaaaaahahahaaahahahaahahhaahaha, one of the best things about animals not giving a fuck is how flawlessly it highlights the frivolity of human behavior. At an annual domino exhibition in Leeuwarden, Netherlands—which is where domino enthusiasts gather to watch other domino enthusiasts knock down millions of dominos in elaborate formations—a House Sparrow flew in and landed daintily atop some strategically placed dominos, knocking down 23,000 of them. But, like, dude was just trying to get a little shut-eye! He probably flew really far! Also, humans, be less bored.
The garbage thing about this story is that the domino police hired a hunter to execute the sparrow afterwards, because DOMINOS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN LIFE.
Barney, George W. Bush's Scottish Terrier, got called fat by Karl Rove, and then Vladimir Putin tried to step to him with some macho bullshit about how real men snuggle with three-headed hell-hounds and pick up their Clifford-the-Big-Red-Shits for the glory of the Motherland. But Barney was just like, "Hell nyet, bro. Pass the Beggin' Strips. Trot-trot-trot." Then he bit everyone.
White House official Karl Rove remarked shortly after his resignation that Barney was "a lump." Barney has also been criticized by Russian President Vladimir Putin who feels a world leader should own large robust dogs, not smaller breeds such as the Scottish Terrier. At a later date, when Putin introduced Bush to Koni, his black labrador, Putin is reported to have remarked that Koni is "(b)igger, tougher, stronger, faster, meaner, than Barney."
Did anyone else sit through this hour-long Animal Planet documentary about Pinky the albino chimpanzee a few years ago? It's all about how Pinky was rejected by the other chimpanzees because he's all white and pink with one wild blue eye, which makes him vulnerable and bashful, so he has to go to this chimp sanctuary where he finally comes out of his shell and makes a best friend and learns how to climb and eat bugs, and then just when you're feeling all purry and glowy inside because finally something nice happened in the world, this fucking card comes up after the closing credits that's like "OH BTW LATER PINKY FELL OUT OF A TREE AND DIED."
I'm still mad about it.
AND YEAH, I KNOW IT'S SEA LIONS THAT HAVE EARS. IT WAS A RHETORICAL DEVICE, SO DON'T EVEN.
Image by Jim Cooke, photo via Shutterstock