Animal Attacks

25 thoughts on what happens when we attack the animals who attack us

MTV.com press release: Type in "shark attacks" on Borders.com, and you'll get 58 corresponding hits, including Terror Below! Shark: Killer of the Deep, The Jaws of Death, and Shark Attack Coloring and Activity Book. Unquestionably the most feared and vilified animal on earth, sharks kill about eight to 10 humans per year—usually mistaking them for primary food sources—while humans kill upward of 100 million sharks annually, a pace that threatens the species' very existence.It's a personal thing. The prospect of encountering a great white shark bothers me. During the process of planning a 60-mile, around-the-clock relay swim from San Clemente Island to San Clemente, I had concerns. I called the Scripps Institute of Oceanography about risks of sharks in the channel area. They told me there are sharks out there, but a lot less of them than 20 years ago. In another 20 years, all the sharks may be fished out of the ocean. I decided to buy a shark pod to ward off sharks. I found one in Australia and had it shipped here. It's a big neoprene band, about 10 inches long, that wraps around your calf and has a long tail about four to five feet. If a shark is in the area, the tail of the pod is supposed to emit an electrical impulse, which is picked up by the snout of the shark. My understanding is that the impulse causes the shark pain, and it goes away. The radius of the pod is 10 to 15 feet. It's supposed to work in Australia.I figured this would give me peace of mind. Around midnight, I was swimming my 60-minute leg. The whole time, I kept looking down, thinking, "Do I see anything?" At one point, there was definitely something below me, an outline of something. I know I wasn't seeing things. The shape and way it was moving reminded me of a shark. I didn't have the pod on, so I got it on and swam the rest of the time with it on. I always thought the odds of being attacked by a shark were slim. But after witnessing the tiger shark incident in Maui, seeing great whites in Corona del Mar several summers ago when the whale carcass floated, and sightings last summer in San Clemente, I have a greater appreciation that, yes, they are out here. I used to not think anything about swimming around the San Clemente pier. Now I think twice about entering the water. Craig Taylor, Laguna Niguel, bank vice presidentThe largest wilderness on the planet is right at our back door. And we don't treat it with the respect it deserves. Eighty percent of all the creatures on Earth live there, and they all have to eat. And we don't go into the jungle dressed in a bathing suit with a tube of suntan cream and think we should be safe. But that's what we do in the ocean. Peter BenchleyEpisode 6 The ever-adventurous Wildboyz travel to New Zealand, where they dress up like sheep, hand-feed sharks and examine giant squid.

MTV.com press release: While driving along the 101 in San Luis Obispo County, I noticed an old barn, so I pulled off the side of the road. I ran into the owner of the barn and asked him if it was okay to take some photographs. He said no problem but warned me about the gander [male goose]. Well, I'm no farm boy, so I wasn't sure if he was serious. I continued on to the barn and looked through my camera lens only to see this gander come flying out of the barn door. I thought, "This big bird is going to attack me or stop." But then the goose, which was about four feet tall, put his head down and his wings up and started to pick up speed. He had no intention of stopping. He landed on the back of my leg and started pecking. By this time, I was running. The gander was honking at me while flapping his wings and grabbing at my back, butt and back of my legs. I couldn't see, but it felt like he was flying into me and hitting me with his beak—which felt like a sharp stick—and scratching me with his claws. He kept lifting off the ground and landing on me. This went on for about 75 yards. Fortunately, I didn't get hurt because I had on a pair of jeans.The whole time, I kept thinking, "This is absolutely absurd—being chased by a goose." I guess he finally figured he had made his point and stopped. I had no idea that ganders were so vicious or protective. I never got my pictures of the barn. I just left, disgraced and exasperated. Later, I got some goose-paté relish and relished eating it later.

Tom, English teacher, Irvine:Let me tell you about a little monkey. His name was Jerry. He lived right in Fullerton and Anaheim in the 1940s and '50s. Though Africa had been his home, it was in OC that Jerry was able to reach his potential. It was here that Jerry learned he could wait tables, pound nails, work a wrench and do other tasks that people, even white people, did then. He came to be known as "the world's most human chimpanzee." Jerry's owners were also OC success stories. Anaheim native Jack Dutton was an early county millionaire; his wife, Dorothy, had been Miss Anaheim in 1930. Into this ascendant life came Jerry, bought as a baby by the Duttons and raised as one of their own, kind of like Tarzan in reverse. Jerry learned to dress himself and to use a toilet. He supped at the dinner table and even slept in the same bed as the Duttons. Jerry and the Duttons' menagerie of other animals started drawing complaints from their Fullerton neighbors. So in 1951, the couple bought a five-acre orange grove in Anaheim, planted palm trees and created the Jungle, a zoo/amusement park/restaurant/bar/gift shop where Jerry could cavort and pound nails all day for throngs of adoring humans. But like a furry Icarus, Jerry had dared too much, and he was doomed to plummet. In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, stealing the Jungle's thunder. The crowds stopped coming, and there is no fury like a human chimp scorned. Jerry became unmanageable and went bananas when he had to be caged. He had become too humanized, and no zoo would take him. He needed round-the-clock supervision. Finally, as related in Charles Phoenix's superfine book Southern California in the '50s, it came to this: When Jerry became more and more impossible, Dutton took Jerry into a nearby orange grove and gave him a shovel. "I had him dig a deep hole," Dutton said. "When he was finished, I told him to jump inside. Then a policeman friend of mine shot him in the head."I'm sorry. I'd forgotten to mention this is the saddest goddamn story in the world. "Oh, by the way, a cop shot him in the head. Like a human, right to the end," I should have said at the outset. Jim Washburn, OC WeeklyA recent three-year study by UC Davis scientists found that mountain lions hide near wilderness trails, closer to humans than previously thought, but are seldom seen by hikers or bikers. "You can be very close to a lion and not know it," said Walter Boyce, a UC Davis professor who directed the study. Scientists from the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center studied 20 mountain lions and their contacts with people at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County and the surrounding area. When the study of nine male and 11 female cougars ended last month, researchers found that only one of the study lions was still roaming the park. Eleven died during the study. Four were shot by state or federal officials for threatening or killing domestic animals at nearby ranches; four died from disease or from unknown causes; one was killed by another cougar; one was killed by a vehicle; and one starved after being burned in a fire.The mountain lion that attacked two bikers in Whiting Ranch was probably a young cat pushed out of its territory. Since the attack, I definitely have more respect for the lion. I'll give them another 10 feet out there now. Tom ShermanEpisode 5 The fearless Wildboyz travel to the vast continent of Africa, where they experience life as a zebra, make out with giraffes and get stung by scorpions. MTV.com press release Lots of people can say they've been charged by an enraged rhinoceros—but how many can say they've been charged by an enraged rhinoceros in Irvine? My near-trampling happened at Lion Country Safari, a drive-through animal preserve that shall forever hold the distinction of being the Dumbest Idea in the History of Everything. I don't blame the rhino for trying to kill us. Rhinos are aggressive and territorial, sure, but they are also really stupid and can't see well. Squaring off against my aunt's bus, the rhino would have seen a big, beige, boxy thing, just about the same color as—and only a bit larger than—himself. The bus had a bad transmission, so its engine made a deep, rumbling sound—not unlike the growl of a pissed-off rhino. Our vehicle was as rhino-like as a vehicle could possibly be, and when that rhino rushed us, the poor bastard simply thought he was defending himself from a belligerent rival. Had he crashed into us, he probably would have killed himself . . . and us. At the very least, he would have tipped the bus over and badly bruised his horn. As it happened, he veered off at the last possible instant, probably hoping like hell that he'd proved his dominance and we'd run away. If so, he was right. I can still picture the rhino's smug expression in the rear-view mirror as he receded into the distance. He probably still tells his buddies about that one. Greg Stacy, OC WeeklyI have been asked this for years and have not been able to understand it myself until I read something that E.O. Wilson said, which was, "We don't just fear our predators; we are transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter on endlessly about them—because fascination breeds preparedness, and preparedness survival. In a deeply tribal sense, we love our monsters." Peter Benchley, author of Jaws

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