Here are a few unusual animal stories that caught our attention during the past year:
That’s for Cecil
A 24-year-old man, Matome Mahlale, was killed by lions in October while trespassing on a private game farm in South Africa near the Zimbabwe border. The man was part of a group of five unlicensed hunters looking to bag the big cats when two lions ambushed and charged the group, also mauling and killing two dogs. The other four men either climbed a tree to escape or managed to run away.
Biting the hand that feeds it
Two police officers in Newport, Kentucky saved the life of a reptile-store owner in early October when the six-metre python whose cage the man was cleaning bit his throat and arm and threw its coils around him. One of the cops had the presence of mind to grab the 56-kilogram snake’s head and uncurl it from the trunk and neck of Terry Wilkens, who had stopped breathing. The officers restarted Wilkens’s breathing before getting him to hospital, where he recovered.
In August, Alaska state troopers investigated an incident where an unidentified man, clad in a head-to-toe bear costume, ran through an area near a Chilkoot River weir where a mother grizzly and two cubs were catching spawning pink salmon in front of a crowd of onlookers. The man jumped up and down near the bears, without saying anything, before fish-and-game technicians moved the animals away. After refusing to identify himself, the man drove away, still wearing the costume.
An endangered Brazilian monkey being held in a British zoo died in January after it fell from a tree into an American otter enclosure, where the inhabitants promptly ate it. The demise of the golden lion tamarin at Bristol Zoo Gardens only became known after a whistle blower disclosed animal deaths at the zoo.