Walk on the wild side: young boar joins herd of cattle
Domestic animals turn wild, and vice versa, while others escape and go walkabout...
BACK TO NATURE
A cow ran away from a Polish farm in late October to spend the winter living with a herd of some 50 wild bison in a primæval forest on the Belarusian border, despite the temperatures dropping to 14˚F (minus 10˚C).
Ornithologist Adam Zbyryt was the first to spot the cow in November, keeping strange company. “It’s not unusual to see bison near the Bialowieza Forest, but one animal caught my eye,” he said. “It was a completely different lightbrown shade from the rest of the herd. Bison are chestnut or dark brown”. He dropped his initial idea that this was a mutation when he trained his binoculars on the creature, and saw that it was Limousin cow – a French breed popular in Poland. Biologist Rafal Kowalczyk spotted the animal again in late January, still apparently healthy and keeping pace with the herd. He said that the herd had probably saved her from the wolves that prowl the edges of the forest through the winter. Bison became extinct in Europe in the early 20th century due to hunting, and it was only in the Fifties that conservation programmes began to reintroduce the continent’s largest land animal back into its natural environment. BBC News, 24 Jan; D.Telegraph, 26 Jan 2018.
If domestic animals can choose to return to the wild, then it would seem, by the same token, that a wild animal can opt for domestication. In December 2015 a wild boar became something of a celebrity in Germany after joining a herd of cows on a farm near Neumünster, SchleswigHolstein. Doctor and farmer Dirk Reese watched the persistent porcine pretender – whom he christened Banana – inveigle himself into the herd of cattle. Two months later, the young boar seemed happy with his bovine companions, while the cows appeared to accept the new addition to the herd. “He’s fully integrated. It’s fascinating,” said Mr Reese.
Lori Marino, of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, explained that pigs, both wild and domestic, are socially complex creatures with a need for stimulation if they are to “blossom”. It’s unclear why Banana left the forest to seek out a new life – possibly he was an orphan – but clearly the animal “latched on to whomever it could find,” she said. “Pigs are smart; this one knew what it was doing… It’s a cute little mistake, but it also
shows how socially flexible these animals are. Everyone is getting something out of the relationship.” Süddeutsche Zeitung; www.thelocal.de; news. nationalgeographic.com, 7 Dec 2015.
GOATS LED BY DONKEYS
A donkey led more than a dozen sheep and goats on a stroll through a suburban West Covina neighbourhood east of Los Angeles on 25 January. The animals escaped their owners’ property in neighbouring Valinda through an unsecured gate and were finally corralled with the help of the County Sheriff’s Department. The owner was contacted and took the herd home. [AP] 26 Jan 2018.
Rosalyn Edwards was working in her kitchen on 25 October 2017 when she heard strange noises. Turning around, she was stunned to discover her Border collie puppy, Rocky, had led nine sheep indoors. The seven-month-old sheepdog-in-training had ushered the woolly rabble into the Devon farmhouse via the back door. “I thought it was funny at the time, but then there was quite a lot of wee, poo and mud everywhere,” said Mrs Edwards, 40. “It took me a little while to clean it all up. My son and husband had gone out into the field, and the gate was left open. Rocky got them out and led them to the house. I was in the kitchen and heard a noise. I turned around and the sheep were just standing there. I took the children into another room and then tried to guide the sheep out.” Eventually the flock was marched out via the front porch, leaving a trail of muck in their wake. Mrs Edwards added: “Rocky did look quite pleased with himself, but he’s going to need more training. He brought a whole new meaning to ‘bringing the sheep home’.” D.Telegraph, D.Mirror, 4 Nov 2017.
BABOONS BREAK OUT
Paris Zoological Park went into lockdown on 26 January after 52 baboons escaped from their enclosures. The animals got free around midday at the 36-acre park in the city’sVincennes woods. Most were rounded up, bout four were still at large a day later. D.Express, 27 Jan 2018.
COVER IMAGE: ETIENNE GILFILLAN GRAFFITI: MARK WARDEL COVER MODEL: SOPHIE LOYER WITH THANKS TO CATHI UNSWORTH AND MIKE MEEKIN
A motley crew of sheep and goats follow their donkey leader through suburban West Corvina.
The Limousin escapee with her wild and woolly new friends.