Zoo Keepers Reveal Which Animals Are The Biggest Jerk To Work With.
Not all humans are sane. We all have/know that one person in our life who just makes things go South, just for the fun of it. Same with animals. While most of the animals react only if someone troubles them, some are downright crazy.
So here's to the crazy ones.
I'm sure there are probably problem animals in the other areas of my zoo as well but the animal that is the biggest jerk that I have worked with takes the form of a baby camel.
Now most people don't think about camels as dangerous animals usually but a quick google search will show you plenty of videos displaying just how strong and terrifying they can be. Fortunately that's not an issue for us, all of our camels are well trained and pretty well behaved so long as you don't leave anything sitting around them that you aren't prepared to have eaten.
Except for one.
This baby camel was orphaned by her mother so she has been raised by us for the most part. Usually she is pretty sweet and fairly easy to get along with. But I have never seen an animal go through bigger mood swings than her. One moment she will be rubbing up next to you looking for attention, but the next moment you have your back turned she will be half reared up and ready to kick, and then after failing to murder you she will try to come back to you for more affection like none of it ever happened. She would use any reason as an excuse to try and attack one of us too. "Oh look at that stick that has been in my enclosure for a week and I have never reacted to. Now I need to destroy everything in my immediate radius because I suddenly hate that stick so much."
Now I know what you're thinking, it's just a baby right? What harm could she do? Well by six months she was already past 200 pounds and still growing, she'll easily pass 1000 pounds when she is fully grown. So trying to lead her outside in the morning when she is in a homicidal mood is a hassle to say the least, dodging kicks and trying to hold onto her lead while she does her best to murder you.
I can easily say 90% of the injuries sustained on the job in our department are due to her.
That being said, I still love the little antichrist and she has definitely started to calm down with age and take to her training a lot better but that couldn't have come fast enough.
I am a devoted reptile keeper and this is Wrath, an Argus monitor that measures 72" from nose to tail and possesses a vendetta against all life.
I am at this point convinced he is nothing but pure unfiltered hatred in the guise of an animal.
Firstly, no one but me can even get near this beast. Take one step towards him and he'll rise up on his hind legs with claws outstretched, ready to go to town. And he's capable of, and happy to, shred a hand with his teeth. He once tore through heavy duty welding gloves like paper.
Secondly, he is really sadistic, he routinely skins his prey ALIVE. He toys with live prey, and will even dismember dead things just to facilitate his lust for blood. He is a capable killer, and during his time spent in an outdoor enclosure he hunted down and devoured several birds, rabbits, marmots, and cats, and once a Red-tail hawk.
He is also extremely intelligent and can open doors, undo latches and most importantly, knows how to target specific weak points on prey. When hunting rodents he will strike directly behind the head and literally kill them instantaneously, anything larger is brought down by a bite to the Achilles tendon, and then bled out through the abdomen.
He even killed his new mate after she refused to allow him to mount her. He then proceeded to mate with her corpse and has since then been retired from further breeding possibilities. I have no idea what is wrong with this creature, and I've never met anything as evil, twisted, and sadistic as he is. All my other animals are perfectly approachable and well mannered.
I have worked in various wildlife rehab/research facilities, including a bird sanctuary where we did mist-netting, setting up very fine nets between trees to catch songbirds, and banding of wild birds for research and population count.
I've handled everything from woodpeckers to crows to sparrows...and but the biggest jerks?
Most of the birds were scared or curious when we took them out of the nets. But these Chickadees, they were always angry.
There is something bizarrely respectable about it though. Here I am holding a bird smaller than the palm of my hand whose head I could crush with my thumb, and it's going, "You may be bigger than me but if you don't let me go I will rip your cuticle off."
I volunteered at an aquarium while in high school. My job was to talk at different exhibits. The worst was a beluga whale, at least it was for me.
This whale was at the first stop so lots of people came. It was already bad that I was anxious to go on mic in front of that many people and this young male beluga whale made it worse for me. He often interacted with the guests, pushing his melon against the glass and blowing out water. Young male whales are excitable, if you're catching my drift. Some times he would get so excited, he would rub himself on the biggest piece of glass.
He only seemed to do this on the busiest days or days we had lots of kids. Normally people just kind of pointed and laughed. Some people would ask what was happening to which I would reply, "oh, you know how young guys are". People usually got it after that. One time, on a super busy day, the whale rubbed himself until climax for everyone to see! I was barely sixteen at the time, and was mortified when kids ran up to ask me what the explosion was.
We ran one of the wildlife rehabs where I worked had rescued and care for wolves, bears, lynx, mountain lions, etc.
We had a female black bear who always created nuisance on rainy days. She'd wait until a school or tour group got up nice and close to her enclosure, then, all of a sudden, give the wet ground an almighty whack with her front paw, spraying the entire group with mud. Every time!
Swans are the worst.
They want to kill everyone from the person who feeds them and cleans their awful poop everyday to the sweet harmless baby ducks swimming near them.
Even the dumbest of invertebrates knew that we fed them and would be kinder. Swans see you bringing them food from across the park and are furious. I were to translate what they said, it'll be, "YOU STOLE MY FOOD I NEVER HAD AND PUT IT IN THAT BUCKET YOU'RE BRINGING TOWARD ME AND I AM GOING TO FIRST BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THIS GROUNDHOG NEAR ME BECAUSE OF THAT, AND THEN TRY TO MURDER YOU."
There was a swan at our local park that hated me in particular for some reason. I was part of the maintenance crew of the park.
This swan would specifically seek me out if it saw me, even with people around, and just flog the crap out of me. I knew it was the same one every time because it had a weird black spot on one of its feet.
One day I had enough, and when it came up to me the final time I slapped the crap out of its face. It ran off honking like it does, and I went about my day at the park. Since then, It never messed with me again after that.
I don't work there but I have visited a popular wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa called Moholoholo about 7 or 8 times.
They house arguably the world's most famous honey badger, Stoffel.
All the honey badgers are savage, but this particular one has actually featured on multiple TV shows because of his antics.
In the first few years of his life at the centre he dug his way into the Lion enclosure TWICE and both times attacked the alpha male of the pride.
Honey Badgers have an incredible survival mechanism - their skin is really tough but loosely packed. So when the lion clamped his jaws around Stoffel, Stoffel was actually able to rotate his skeleton within the skin and turn around to bite the lion on the nose. The lion instantly dropped him. Stoffel continued to terrorize the pride but none of them wanted to be anywhere near him. Eventually the zoo-keepers had to tranquillize him so they could take him out and treat his wounds.
When Stoffel grew up and kept digging his way under the wall of his enclosure, zookeepers had to extend the wall 2 metres deeper into the soil. When he opened up cracks in the concrete and escaped, they had to cover it with metal sheet. When he used rocks and sticks to create a tower to climb over the wall, they saw what's coming and removed the structure. Then he stole a zookeeper's broom and climbed out using that instead.
There are many more stories of his antics, but my favourite is when after years of living on his own Stoffel got a female companion to join him in the enclosure. First thing Stoffel did?
He stood on her head and used her to climb over the wall!
I'd say Orangutans.
Ex-Zookeeper here. Orangutans are super smart, super strong, but super jerks. We had a female who, if you were standing in front of her indoor inclosure, would spit on you or hit you in the mouth. And grin.
She grinned so big when it happened that you could see how much she enjoyed doing that.
A female Orangtum was let out into the backyard, as her cage needed to be cleaned. We soon realized we had forgotten the rake in the backyard she was now in.
We tried for an hour - she didn't shift back, so we couldn't get it. Finally the keeper called her over to the grated door, made motions and talked in hopes of getting her to bring the rake. Surprisingly she did. But she would not give it to us though.
So the keeper got some skittles out of the skittles bag he had, gave her a couple, then motioned for the rake. In response she broke a piece of the rake and handed it through the door! OMG.
More skittles and we got another piece of rake. This went on until all of the rake was back inside.
I can never forget this one.
I volunteered at a zoo once in my life. And this happened while we were feeding the primates.
An Orangutan with a mouthful of fruit looked at me, sighted in, and launched a golf ball sized wad of spit and chewed fruit at me, hitting me straight on my mouth.
The Zoo had an overhead pathway for the Orangutans to walk down to their "learning enclosure." The zoo had to station a keeper under this pathway, because some Orangutans liked to urinate on the humans walking beneath them. I saw it happen a couple times--The Orangutan would position himself there and wait!
I was volunteering at an aquarium in the cephalopod section. One day the power was out, so everything was running on backup generators. We were making sure everything necessary to keep the animals alive was still running.
The tanks where the giant pacific octopuses (these octopuses are about 8 or 9 feet across) where didn't have a solid top to close it up - instead it was covered by Astro Turf. Octopus can't work on astroturf, so they can't climb out. In theory.
This one female octopus jammed herself into the water outtake of the tank while no one was paying attention. Then she made a waterfall out of the tank and rode it to freedom!
We caught her just after she flopped onto the floor. Octopus are really smart and dangerous.
When I worked as a zookeeper intern, I thought the biggest jerks were the Emus,
but then this happened.
It was the summer of 2004 and the Emus shared an exhibit with the Wallabies. The wall enclosing the exhibit was essentially a fence made of dried bamboo sticks.
Wallabies are super cute and are not typically threatening in any way.
The emus were big jerks, they constantly hit the wallabies. However, there were no actual injuries yet.
One night one of the emus ran into the fence and sort of gently-impaled itself. It wasn't badly injured, but it did fall down after the injury. What did the wallabies do? They kicked it in the head until it was dead!
The wallabies and emus were separated the next day.
I used to volunteer at a Zoo, and there was the story of Fu Manchu, the orangutan.
Apparently, one of the keepers found Fu and some of his buddies hanging out outside of their enclosure and ushered them back in. When it happened again, the keeper thought someone was leaving the enclosure open. It happened so much that someone was about to get fired over it.
Finally someone witnessed Fu climbing through an air vent to get to the door, pulling it open enough to expose a gap, then pulling out a piece of wire from his mouth and using it undo the latch and open the door. He'd engineered the escape himself and had been hiding the wire in between his gums all this while.
I think even I couldn't have thought of this plan if I was in his place.
We had a kookaburra who would catch lizards, snakes, frogs, and even earthworms so he could feed them to us.
You would be standing around doing your job and all of a sudden he shows up on your shoulder trying to force feed you a lizard he whacked on the ground 30 times.
Worst was these preys were sometimes still alive, just playing dead to fool our birdie.
For me it's the short tailed, leaf nosed, fruit bat. I'm an intern in a well known zoo. We have a wet cave filled with probably 1000 of these bats.
To feed them we direct them towards a wired cage. Actually we just let the door open and, seeing food, these bats fly inside the cage. When we leave we have to heard them into the cave, and that can be really punishing for the person handling them.
As an intern I'm not allowed to touch them, so I put my hand up by them to guide them. Except they don't like that and always fly right in my face.
One day I was by myself, trying to get all them back to the cave, and one of the little bats would not get going. I stood there for around 40 minutes doing jazz fingers and he just hung there. Then that small bat ended up biting my keeper, who came to see what was taking me so long, after she had to grab him in order to put him back in his cave.
My friend has a farm with geese and they sort of just let them roam around the property most of the time. At night however, they put these geese into their pen or the garage if it's cold.
Once I had to help her "herd" the geese at night and I felt like I was in a horror movie.
It won't be you chasing them, since they're not really scared of you. Instead it'll be they charging at you from all directions, making weird cries. I'd have to stand my ground, yell at it and stomp towards where I wanted it to go while trying not to pee my pants because there were three more coming at me as I look back.
My friend says if you raise them right they're nice, but I have yet to see any evidence.
Ravens in general are one of the smartest birds.
We had a raven that hung about our garden and made our barbecues a complete nightmare. Anything shiny left unsupervised was guaranteed not to be there within 30 seconds.
Apart from that he was a chill dude. He often used to come and sit next to me when I went out backdoors to smoke. Although in hind sight I now think he may have just been trying to steal my lighter.
We eventually found out where he was stashing all his steals. It was like a treasure trove of stuff from all over the neighbourhood.
I used to work on a boat that did marine wildlife and birding tours.
Every spring when the orcas, killer whales, came north into our bay they'd come up to the boat to check it out and say hi. They'd rub up against the boat and swim around. We'd let kids touch their fins, they were quite docile. The only animal we were ever attacked by was an arctic tern.
Terns are really small for seabirds but they are really aggressive. For god knows why, they build their nests on the ground rather than in trees. And then terrorize anyone who makes the mistake of coming near their it. They don't care if it's foxes, weasels, people, bears, or whatever, they will attack.
One day we were watching an arctic tern chase an eagle around at least a mile off shore, and a tourist on our boat was trying to capture it with a telephoto lens. The tern didn't like it and came straight towards us, trying to peck this guy's $2000 lens to pieces.
Our zoo has a cassowary and his female mate. Their exhibit goes by the name Sir Winston Churchill and his Lady.
This cassowary is quite an escape artist. The zoo had to rebuild the enclosure several times because he'd climb the fence. They put him in a fully enclosed exhibit and somehow he managed to unlock the door. They put him in an indoor exhibit and he refused to eat until they put him back outside, where he instantly climbed the fence and escaped again. The would sometimes have to shut down the zoo to find him.
Now he and his lady have a little enclosure with a super high fence and there is a roud the clock camera surveillance off the path of the zoo trail - to make it easier to find him in case he escapes again. You wouldn't know he was there unless someone pointed him out to you. As far as I know, he hasn't tried to escape recently. I think he just really didn't want to be on display, so he made life hell for everyone until he got what he wanted.
I work with squirrel monkeys.
One day one particular monkey was being fairly grabby, reaching for my hair and what not. I had closed up their cage and was getting ready to leave when I realized I hadn't slid a hatch shut. I moved closer to the fence to do it and this grabby monkey shot a hand out of the cage, reaching for the little mealworms bowl I was carrying, knocked the bowl out of my hands.
Individual mealworms are hard to pick up off the floor, especially when they're crawling away as fast as their little legs can go. The situation went south when all of a sudden all monkeys jumped to the ground and started reaching through the fence to grab the worms while I was still trying to scoop the mealworms back into the bowl as fast as I can.
Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the grabby monkey throw worm at me. I just froze and was thinking what was wrong with this monkey.
I have been working in reptile farms for a long time now.
My jobs have various snake species that are large and bite, but nothing venomous. While snake hooks are always around they are rarely used because after a while you get used to being bitten and learn how to work with the animal and read its body language.
The exception to this was a single female Florida Kingsnake. She was permanently angry. It didn't matter if she had been fed, if she was breeding, if you were giving her water, or if you just walked past her cage, she was in a constant state of aggression. We did leave a snake hook by her cage because as soon as her cage was opened she would immediately start striking and hissing. After two or three strikes she would start getting even more angry and would start getting excessively posed - to the point where she would lean so far back she was practically upside down before striking!
As soon as you closed the cage and walked away you could heard the thuds of her still striking and hitting the front.
I work with Chimpanzees and I'll tell you when the females are in estrous (think of kind of being "in heat" for dogs) they are just down right mean to the males of their troops, going as far as taking prized food items right out of the mouths of some of the lower ranking males.
I've also seen fights between chimpanzees (which is completely normal as aggression is central to their social hierarchies) where the fight finally died down and everyone was making up with one another as they usually do, until one of the females who wasn't done arguing handed one of the males a rock to throw at another female whom she was still mad at. This of course led to the fight starting all over again.
I used to work at zoo in the education department. During my first few weeks I had to get trained on handling a bunch of different animals. One of those animals was a ferret.
During my practical test the ferret I was working with started to sniff my wrist and thought he might bite me. Stupid ferret bite me, not once but twice. In these tests getting bitten even once is considered a fail because biting means the animal is stressed. I was mad at that ferret because I had been patient done my best to handle him well.
The trainer laughed at me and said I still passed. She had intentionally given me this specific ferret who was known to bite people. I still hate that stupid ferret.
This Article With Your Animal Lover Friends.
When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.
These are those stories.