Animals That Were Found in Weird Places

    August 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Everyone loves animals.  That is, of course, until a strange one pops up in an unexpected place.  When this happens, people are befuddled, curious, and perhaps in very real danger of being mauled to death, and in light of this week’s Hurrican Irene-Brooklyn-python fiasco, here is are some unique creatures that found their way into some less-than-natural habitats.

    A Capybara in California

    Capybara in Paso Robles californiaA strange creature has been stalking the water treatment plant in Paso Robles, California for the past month.  Workers have reported seeing a giant rodent-like creature just wandering around and hanging out in the marshy area.  After examining photographs taken of the beast, wildlife experts have concluded it is a capybara.  If you aren’t familiar with capybaras, just imagine a combination between a wombat, a guinea pig, and Alf.  Essentially, a capybara is a giant super rat indigenous to South America. Universally derided as goofy-looking, capybaras are outlawed as pets in California.  That makes this particular capybara either an illegal escaped pet, or a hopelessly lost fish-out-of-water on a quest to find himself.  Kind of like in Homeward Bound…but with grotesque hulking rodents.  Authorities have no plan to capture the little guy, because he’s just…you know…hanging out.  But I do hope he finds whatever it is he’s looking for.  I hope to God he finds it…and I hope the thing he’s looking for is not “the taste of human flesh”.

    A Tiger (and Alligator) in Harlem

    tiger in harlemJittery white people were already nervous about crossing 110th street, but in 2003 a Harlem man gave them two more reasons: one tiger and one alligator.  It all started when a guy named Yates checked into the hospital for lacerations he claims were inflicted upon him by a pit bull.  Then, Yates’ neighbors in the apartment below him started to complain about large amounts of urine seeping down from their ceiling. Then police received an anonymous tip that strange wild animals were spotted in Yates’ building.  By this time the cops were starting to get suspicious, so they decided to pay Yates a visit.  When he didn’t answer the door, they cut a hole in it to get a look at what might be in there.  Needless to say, they were slightly bemused to find a full grown, 500-pound Bengal tiger sunning by the window.  Then things got even crazier when they discovered a freaking alligator just hanging out with its tiger buddy in the Harlem apartment! Both animals were sedated and taken to an animal shelter, and Mr. Yates was soon after taken into custody.  Pssh! Roommates, amiright?

    A Shark in New Hampshire

    blue-shark-FOUND-new-hampshireThis one sounds like it is the type of thing that would occur in the cliffhanger just before a commercial break in Lost.  Earlier this month, the decaying corpse of a blue shark was found in a wooded area in New Hampshire.  This bizarre find was made even made more bizarre-er by the fact that the ocean is over an hour away from where the unfortunate shark was found.  Plus, this particular type of blue shark tends to stay in deep water, not near the coast line.  Locals and police were at a loss over what actually happened, but officials hypothesize that a deep-sea fisherman discarded the shark after getting nervous about not having a proper fishing license.  My theory is that the DHARMA Initiative was experimenting with transporting live matter through time and space, and used the shark as a guinea pig.  However, the island switched locations just as they sent the shark back through time, and that is why it ended up in such a strange location, DUH!

    Burmese Pythons in Florida

    python in floridaFlorida is widely regarded as one of the worst states in the union.  Old people, rednecks, drug dealers, and douchey spring breakers all collide in this muggy mess of a peninsula.  Now you can add man eating snakes to your list of reasons to take Florida off your vacation itinerary.  In recent years, Burmese pythons (indigenous to Burma, of course) have become a popular pet in the region.  Exotic and relatively inexpensive, these creatures seem like the perfect gift for reptile enthusiasts.  However, they quickly grow to upwards of 15 feet long and have an insatiable appetite for living flesh.  Countless python owners have been abandoning their “pets” into the everglades, and now this alien population is rapidly expanding.  Python sightings are on the rise.  These scaly invaders are doing a number on the local eco-system since they have no natural predators.  And, sadly, a Burmese python actually constricted a toddler to death two years ago.  Locals report that these invaders even pick fights with the indigenous population of alligators in the swamps.  That’s right; pythons vs. gators.  No matter who wins, we lose.

    A Giant Squid in Japan

    giant squid japanI’m counting this one because a giant squid found anywhere is freakin’ crazy.  Long considered fantasy creatures of antiquated maritime lore, the giant squid became an undeniable scientific fact in 2006.  A vessel of Japanese scientists pulled one of these big briny bastards out of the depths of the sea just off of Chichijima island (ahh, Chichijima island…I hear it’s lovely this time of year.)  The 24-foot female giant squid was reportedly very difficult to reel in, but after a Hemingway-esque struggle with the beast, the heroic Doctor Kubodera finally hauled the mythical invertebrate onto the deck of the ship where it promptly died of exposure.  I chalk this up as a victory for science.  Not only do we now have confirmation that these terrifying sea-dwellers exist, but we now know how to kill them!  All you have to do is deprive them of the watery medium by which they breath, thus suffocating them.  Brilliant!  GO SCIENCE!

    African Serval Cats in Washington

    african serval catStop buying weird pets, people!  SERIOUSLY!  Here’s another example of an exotic pet gone horribly wrong.  African Serval cats are dangerous wild animals that are illegal to own as pets in the US.  However, their unique fur pattern make them hot commodities on the pet black market.  Apparently, as Americans, we’ll always value something that looks cool even if it can get us arrested or maimed.  These creatures are also considered to be very intelligent, and therefore brilliant escape artists.  So if you think you can just put one in a cage, YOU CAN’T!  In Longview, Washington, one such Serval cat caused a ruckus back in February.  In a quiet neighborhood locals notified police that a cheetah was on the loose.  Although it wasn’t a cheetah [holy crap, imagine that] it was certainly a 35-pound Serval cat that was wild, hungry, and probably eager to kill something.  The creature was on the prowl for a week before authorities captured it by luring it into a trap with food, which I can only hope resembled one of those looped-rope-attached-to-a-bent-tree-limb jobs you see in cartoons.  Turns out it was an illegal escaped pet named Rajah that put the entire town into lock down.  So again, I just can’t repeat this enough: STOP BUYING WEIRD PETS!

    Elephants in Italy

    hannibal elephantsImagine you are an ancient Roman Centurion in the Italian Peninsula.  You’ve probably spent your entire life on your family’s farm, and you understandably have a very limited knowledge of the world beyond your childhood villa and the city of Rome, which you’ve probably visited only a handful of times.  Now imagine you’re lined up in battle formation, and out of the mist ahead of you come charging dozens of towering dark grey quadrupeds with enormous snouts and blood-soaked tusks along with screaming archers on their backs!  You would probably drop your gladius and soil yourself.  Then you would get trampled.  And that is precisely why Hannibal of Carthage decided to march a bunch of elephants across the Alps and into Italy during the 2nd Punic War against Rome in 218 BC.  Essentially, militarized elephants were the tanks of their day.  And since most people in Europe had never even seen an elephant before, they had a great psychological effect as well.  These panzer pachyderms did a number on the Romans, and Hannibal was able to joy-ride around the peninsula on these foreign and terrifying creatures. The good times didn’t last for Hannibal, though.  He ultimately lost the war, and later poisoned himself in 181 BC.  However, the unprecedented proliferation of war elephants has remained well known for thousands of years now.  Perhaps Bill Murray said it best in the 1996 smash hit Larger Than Life, “You know, they say an elephant never forgets. But what they don’t tell you is that you never forget an elephant.”  Too true.


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