Man versus nature. Despite being a part of the natural universe, mankind has always displayed a desire to limit nature. Our societies are typically built upon the idea that we have nature under our control. That is why it is so jarring when the natural world pushes back and reminds us that we are not the dominant force.
One example of this is when animals wreak havoc. For so long, humans have had no reason to be concerned about predators or dangerous animals, but below are 10 examples of animals wreaking havoc in our carefully crafted and curated societies.
10 Osama Bin Laden
No, not that Bin Laden. We’re talking about Osama Bin Laden the Asiatic elephant that went on a two-year killing spree. Bin Laden managed to kill 27 people between 2004 and 2006 throughout the state of Assam, India. Identified as a tuskless rogue bull elephant between 45 and 50 years old that did not fear fire or firecrackers, the elephant was sarcastically given the name Osama Bin Laden by the locals, who viewed him as a terrorist that destroyed crops and murdered people.
In December of 2006, a “shoot to kill” order with a deadline of December 31 was put forth for Bin Laden. On December 18, locals identified the terrorist elephant and cornered him. A hunter then approached the charging pachyderm and shot him dead. Later, the hunter said, “It was charging me, and I kept firing. Another few yards, and it would have run over me.”
While many rejoiced at the death of Osama Bin Laden, others were suspicious. Firstly, the elephant that was killed was in a location that was 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) from his normal territory. Secondly, the elephant was quickly buried without taking any measurements or verifying other identifying marks other than the fact that it had no tusks. Activists feared that this act of slaying a possibly innocent elephant may trigger retaliatory acts from other elephants. An elephant never forgets, they say.
9 Bear behind Bars
In 2004, a bear named Katya was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for attacking two people at a campsite in Kazakhstan. However, with no viable place to hold her, Katya was sent to serve her sentence at a men’s penal colony. “There was a pool where she could play, swim, and sleep nearby,” states Kostanay Penal Colony spokesman Yerlan Zhutaev. Another official also noted that, unlike the other prisoners, Katya was not permitted conjugal visits, which is a bit of an overshare. Nevertheless, Katya maintained good standing among the staff and inmates. She even has a statue dedicated to her at Kostanay.
Katya was released in 2019 to a mini-zoo where she could live out her days in “almost natural conditions.” Upon her arrival, she was welcomed with a hug and a kiss by a male bear named Yashka. Maybe love is in the air.
While the situation where Katya served her sentence is certainly unique, it is actually not as uncommon as you might think for animals to stand trial. Even in the current year, a bear in Italy is going through the legal system, with the mayor stating that the bear must be destroyed while opposing animal activists are attempting to use forensics to prove the bear is innocent. Someone get Ace Ventura on the case!
8 Psycho Squirrelly Freakout
While many were celebrating the holidays with their families for the first time since the 2020 lockdowns, an enraged animal took its furry fury out on an innocent community during Christmas in 2021. The animal managed to injure 18 people and attack many more in the small Welsh community of Buckley. However, the animal in question was not a terrorist elephant or felonious bear but a small gray squirrel.
While they may seem cute and cuddly, the gray squirrel is very quick with sharp teeth and claws. The squirrel, nicknamed Stripes after the evil Mogwai from the 1983 film Gremlins, chased adults, children, cats, and whatever creature was unfortunate to cross its path. This attack continued for over a day until one brave 65-year-old woman decided she had enough and had to do something to protect her grandchildren. Corrine procured a humane trap and managed to capture Stripes. To be fair, she was able to trick the beast because she had been feeding it since the summer.
7 The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay
While Florida may be one of the more exotic locations in the U.S., boasting unique wildlife like palmetto bugs, manatees, and alligators, the state is not particularly known for any non-human primates. However, due to an overzealous boat captain from 100 years ago, Florida now holds a sizable population of wild rhesus macaques on an island in the middle of the Silver River. For the most part, these monkeys have remained on the island, with their population reaching the hundreds.
It is believed that in 2010, one of these macaques went his own way and traveled to the heavily populated Tampa Bay area. Sightings became more frequent as the monkey managed to evade capture for more than three years! During this time, the monkey managed to become a local legend with his own Facebook page, where he would share his opinions on local news and give updates on his whereabouts. The mystery monkey, nicknamed Cornelius after a character from Planet of the Apes, started to make national headlines in large part due to Stephen Colbert closely following Cornelius’s story on his show.
In 2012, Cornelius’s page made a post stating, “My freedom has been taken away from me.” Surely enough, wildlife officials had waged a three-hour stakeout to finally capture the elusive monkey. Due to locals interacting and feeding him, Cornelius soon became emboldened around humans, and much like his namesake, he struck back at our species and bit an elderly woman. Even though the monkey displayed aggression, most people were upset that he had to be taken away. For a while, the nation cheered on this little guy as he evaded animal enforcement, and he is still cherished to this day.
Currently, Cornelius resides in a 22-acre zoo called Wild Things in Dade City, Florida. In 2015, he found a mate and is now a father. Nothing tames you quicker than becoming a parent. Fortunately, there’s been no further sightings of wild monkeys in Tampa Bay.
6 The Owls Are Not What They Seem
We all know that Europe has a much more relaxed stance on alcohol consumption compared to the U.S., but I did not realize that this applied to animals, too. In 2011, a concerned dog walker notified the Pforzheim Police about a bird in the road that was seemingly unaware of the traffic around it. Officers dispatched to the scene found a brown owl staggering about the road with droopy eyelids. Officers also discovered two empty bottles of Schnapps nearby, which was fortunate because it saved them the trouble of having to conduct a field sobriety test.
The officers apprehended the alcoholic avian and brought it to an “expert who has treated “alcoholized birds” in the past.” Okay, firstly, how do you become an expert in that, and secondly, what does that even entail? Are there veterinary-approved methods to cure animals of hangovers?
Fortunately, no one was hurt or injured during this bird’s night of debauchery. Once again, these types of incidents are not as uncommon as you might think. Indeed, from moose to wasps, it appears that the animal kingdom is all about indulging in some libations.
5 B-a-a-a-d Boys
In September 2022, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office created a post on Facebook about the recent arrest of a criminal named Billy. According to the post, Billy had been terrorizing residents, destroying electrical equipment, chasing people, and damaging a garage door. Once arrested, Billy assaulted a deputy and urinated on them. The post also mentions that Billy is a goat and was held overnight until Livestock Control retrieved him. The sad thing is that I bet I could find a human named Billy who has committed these exact same crimes.
There’s a lot about this story that I wish we could get more information on. For instance, who is Billy’s owner? Did they keep him in his own cell, or was he with other people who were arrested that night? The post also mentioned that they needed to get special handcuffs to arrest him. Who is making handcuffs for goats? There is a lot of mystery around this case.
The sheriff’s office stated that Billy was charged with trespassing, assault, criminal damage, and disorderly conduct. I have to say that based on the story of Katya the bear, the state’s attorney has a really solid case, but it is clear that the Facebook post was all in jest.
4 Electrictrified Pigeon Poo
The Nagano prefecture of Japan was forced to deal with a unique event in 2013 when 25,000 traffic lights suddenly went out and caused a massive traffic jam. While it might seem like some coordinated terrorist attack to create mass chaos, the truth was much more shocking: a pile of pigeon poo over 3 feet (1 meter) in height had smothered a local power station’s insulator, which led to a blackout.
Fortunately, officials were able to direct traffic, and there were no major issues aside from the poor workers who had to clean up the power station. In Japan, if a pigeon relieves itself on you, it is considered a sign of good luck and incoming fortune. Tell that to the people of Nagano.
Stop me if I’ve already said this, but this kind of thing is not as uncommon as you’d imagine. In fact, bird poo has been an issue for electric companies since the early 1900s. I wonder if there was some sort of subplot in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds pertaining to this.
3 The Cerberus of the Garden
Gerald was a wild turkey who made his home in the Rose Garden of Oakland, California. For a while, Gerald was quite peaceful and a well-liked member of the neighborhood. That all changed in the early months of the pandemic. As more people left their stuffy homes for one of the few green spaces in the area, Gerald began to target, stalk, and assault locals who dared to enter the Rose Garden. Reports of his attacks reached over 100 victims who mostly managed to escape, but an unlucky few sustained injuries while one person had to get stitches. Worst of all, Gerald’s prime targets were children and the elderly, the most vulnerable groups.
While Gerald posed a physical threat, he also posed an existential threat that tore at the relations in the tight-knit community. On the social media site Nextdoor—a platform for neighbors in the same community to socialize—members were attacking one another over what to do about Gerald. “Some of the rifts this created—I don’t think they will ever be healed,” said one user who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions. The infighting became so bad that a woman had the cops called on her for feeding Gerald, an online petition was created to save Gerald, and one group put up wanted posters encouraging the killing of the turkey.
Meanwhile, officials attempted to bridge the growing rift via compromise. They closed the Rose Garden down and tried to recondition Gerald, which ended up failing and caused more conflict in the community. Finally, with the pressure growing to a fever pitch, officials attempted to capture and relocate Gerald to a new home. Gerald didn’t go without a fight, however, avoiding net guns, traps, and decoys. Gerald was finally taken down when a volunteer pretended to be a feeble old woman—his favorite target—and grabbed him by his throat when he approached.
Gerald had to be relocated twice because the first time, he managed to wander onto a playground. Most likely to find more victims. Nowadays, he lives on a remote piece of land owned by an electric company. Wherever that is, I hope he’s found some inner peace.
2 RIP Harambe
This entry is more about the rampage to our collective psyche rather than any physical damage. In case you were not online in May of 2016, a boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, where he was approached and held by an adult male gorilla named Harambe. Fearing for the boy’s safety, a zookeeper shot and killed the silverback. This decision ended up sending shockwaves around the world and, depending on who you ask, created a cosmic event.
Conservationists and wildlife experts supported the zookeeper by stating that the boy most certainly would have died, but that didn’t stop the outrage and quick spread of the story. What began as a call for animal rights and the responsibility of humans to ensure those rights were quickly co-opted by the internet and created the “undeniable meme of 2016.” “Dicks out for Harambe” became the viral mantra as the term “dicks” is slang for “guns.” Elon Musk hopped on the bandwagon and released a track on his SoundCloud titled “RIP Harambe,” and a video game studio made a spoof of the video game Marvel vs. Capcom titled Harambe vs. Capcom.
The effect of Harambe on the internet was so poignant that people took it as far as arguing that the slaying was so significant it shifted our reality to a different, darker timeline rife with political unrest, global pandemics, and TikTok. Who knows what could have been had that boy not fallen into the enclosure.
1 The Pas-Tree
In 2021, a Polish animal control group known as the Krakow Animal Welfare Society posted a story about a recent encounter with a creature terrorizing the locals. A frightened woman called for help, stating that she and her neighbors had been seeing an unidentifiable animal lurking in the trees outside their homes. The sight of it led many people to avoid the area and keep their windows shut. On the phone, the woman stated that she believed it may be an iguana. The inspector found this odd and went over to investigate.
When they arrived and spotted the creature, the sight of it led the inspector to fear that the iguana was dead. But as they got closer, they noticed that this thing had no head or limbs. For two days, residents were terrorized not by a crazed exotic animal but by a croissant. The inspector believes that someone may have been attempting to feed the birds and tossed a croissant that then got lodged in a lilac tree. If there is anything to learn from this list, it is that nothing good ever happens when you feed the wildlife.
While the story is humorous, there is a lesson to be learned, as KAWS points out. The woman who made the call did the right thing. She noticed something, called authorities, and did not attempt to approach the suspected creature. If we were all like this woman, then we would have a lot fewer unnecessary deaths like Harambe or attacks like Gerald and the mystery monkey.