If animals could talk, they would spend most of their time calling us dicks and telling us to get off their land. The traits we think of as "cute" are often simply tricks animals have developed to get tourists to throw them food.
Here are six animals that you'll probably want to steer clear of, no matter how adorable they look on that wall calendars.
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
To give you an idea of how cute hippos are, we'd like you to have a look at this:
Now have a look at this:
Hippos are practically the very definition of Disney-cute. What sort of person could look at this big ol' rascal, playing away in her favorite swimming hole, and not think of stuffing her in a tutu and making her dance to classical music?
For chrissake look at them. There is no way you could look at a big, fat, happy, squishy, huggable hippo and not think, "If she could talk like a human, she would sound just like Jada Pinkett Smith and be oh so sassy." You would totally name her Sassybaskets and she would be your tutu-wearing, ballet-dancing, strut-walking pal for life. Just you and Sassybaskets against the world! Look out, New York, here comes Sassybaskets!
OH SHIT! RUN!
It turns out in the real world, hippos fucking kill people.
There's this word, "territorial," that nature takes pretty seriously. When it's applied to a two-ton animal with teeth the size of bowling pins, that is one hell of a word. The sort of word you either pay very close attention to, or ignore and end up with a complimentary "Killed to death by a fucking hippo" tombstone. That sort of thing is really embarrassing for the family, you know?
The next time you settle in for a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, take a moment to to reflect on the small fact that hippopotamuses kill more humans per year than any other animal in the entire continent of Africa. Only elephants are consistently larger than hippos, and only the Warner Brothers' Tasmanian Devil is more consistently aggressive.
Perhaps you've seen this pic:
That is not in fact a man and a hippo doing a live reenactment of a cartoon they saw. That's an experienced park ranger, who narrowly avoided getting killed by a hippo by sprinting over a hundred yards.
The late Steve Irwin, a man who used to tackle 12-foot crocodiles for fun and wave angry snakes filled with kill-you-before-your-next-heartbeat poison at a camera, considered a five-minute sequence where his camera team had to cross a river filled with hippos to be the single most dangerous moment ever filmed on his show.
The man who toyed with crocodiles, was scared shitless of hippos.
Duck-Billed Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
God, we don't even know where to begin.
This is an animal so deliriously ridiculous, biologists refused to believe it could possibly be anything but an elaborate hoax when it was first discovered. To put this in perspective, these exact same biologists believed that rotting meat spontaneously generated maggots and saw nothing wrong with pouring liquid heroin down babies' throats. Platypi are that ridiculous.
But seriously, look at it. It's got a thick, furry body with a flat, beaver-like tail and otter-like feet and we're cool with that because he's so damn fuzzy. Then there's the matter of the big, leathery duck bill and it's suddenly more than a little weird, because that's ... that's not really supposed to happen to mammals.
And then there's the further matter of the very high degree of electroreceptivity in that there bill--it helps the platypus find food buried in the silt. Kinda like a hammerhead shark's head, only instead of being terrifying-looking eye protrusions with an awesome name, it's a goofy-looking duck bill. On a mammal. And OK so that's ... pretty weird, but so what? Their babies are called puggles for fuck's sake! Puggles!
Also they lay eggs for some reason.
OH SHIT! RUN!
And, they are poisonous.
Male platypi have a pair of spurs on their hind legs that they use for defense and dominance duels. They deliver a brutal dose of venom that will put a human being into the emergency room and leave him writhing in muscle-impaired agony for months.
The platypus is mother nature's way of saying, "I made this thing out of spare parts I found on the workshop floor, and it can still fucking cripple you."
Dingo (Canis lupus dingo)
Look at the pretty little puppy! Who's a pretty little puppy?
Oh yes you are! Yes you are! Whoosagoodboyyy? Whooooooosagoodbooooooyyyyy?
Look at him. Look at that fur, those eyes, that playful grin. If that dingo was behind a clear plastic wall at a pet shop, we would take him home in a heartbeat. We'd name him Bandit and put a red bandanna around his neck and we'd take him out to the lake in a pickup truck and he'd hang his head out the window as we drove, howling along to the radio.
If we died, he'd lie down on our graves and just howl away. For the rest of his life. Because he'd miss us so fucking much.
Bandit would be the best goddamned dog there ever was.
And if he ever got rabies, we'd be the ones to put him down.
It just wouldn't be right any other way.
OH SHIT! RUN!
STOP. We can practically feel you trying to reach out a hand to give the Dingo a scratch behind the ear so he knows what a good boy he's being but seriously and for fuck's sake STOP.
That adorable little guy with the silly name and the gleam in his eye is, in fact, absolutely nothing like your blessed yellow Labrador-mix that was the only friendly face you saw all day in your childhood.
No. That is a wild, as in untamed, as in feral, meaning thoroughly and completely--this is important--a dangerous and unpredictable animal.
Wild dogs--also called fucking wolves--are inquisitive, intelligent predators that travel in packs. Which means there are several of them and they all think "fair fight" means "we outnumber the hell out of you". Do a Google search on "Dingo," and look over all of those pages. Notice a theme? Every single one of them manages to repeat the exact same sentiment ad nauseum:
Do not attempt to pet the dingos. Do not attempt to play with the dingos. Do not throw squeaky toys to the fucking dingos or attempt to sneak scraps of food to the fucking dingos from the dinner table. If a fucking dingo follows you home, you should not keep it. DO NOT LET A DINGO PLAY WITH YOUR INFANT.
It took 7,000 years of breeding and training to make your pet dog. This is not your pet dog. This is a fucking dingo.
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
These guys are practically people. No, fuck that, they're practically better than people. Chimps have done everything from fly jet planes to sleep in the same bed as a former President of the United States. If you put a chimp in front of a camera with an action star, you have no choice but to prepare for a wild, wacky romp that will tug your heartstrings and tickle your funny bone until you vomit your entire digestive system in pure laugh-a-minute glee. And then, at the end, we all learn a valuable lesson: usually that Burt Reynolds can be consistently outwitted by lesser primates.
It's that grin. That huge, toothy grin they flash for the cameras, it makes them look like devilish little scamps, like they have some great and hilarious secret they cannot wait to share. And then they put their arms around the action star and snuggle in and everybody goes awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Then they pucker their lips and make fart noises and everybody just laughs until they die.
OH SHIT! RUN!
That is not a grin. What that is, see, is a mouthful of very large teeth being bared. Right at you.
The chimp is attempting to inform you that you are invading his space. If you do not understand this, the chimp would be happy to further elaborate. With that mouthful of very fucking large teeth. While smashing his very long and extremely strong arms about your head and shoulders, grabbing your hair and slamming your head into things. All the while shrieking a vicious symphony of noise that is calling all his buddies over to beat you until you cannot grow anymore. Following which, they will pelt you with feces.
It's sort of like a fraternity initiation, only they don't give a shit if you survive. For instance, look how the adorable monkey treats his "friend" the zoologist, who's been coming to his island and feeding him bananas for years.
If that clip reminds you less of Ross's adorable pet monkey on Friends and more of Stephen Seagal "taking out the trash," that's because you watched it. Now imagine what that monkey would do to your goofy, non-banana bringing ass if you tried to make him wear a funny hat and a necktie.
Oh, here's something to make that mental image even worse: On four recorded occasions in the last 50 years, chimpanzees have abducted, killed and eaten human babies. That's human with an H, as in Homo Sapiens, as in a human baby getting wrenched out of its mother's arms, dragged off into the forest and devoured by a chimp. We are not making this up.
Will you stop fucking dressing them in cowboy outfits now? Please?
Swan (Anatidae Cygnus, dozens of subspecies)
Such poise. Such grace. The way they glide effortlessly across the water. That unmistakable curve to their necks that forms a perfect heart when they nuzzle with their mate, who they will stay with for the rest of their lives.
This is the bird our mothers promised us we would grow up to be after yet another day of getting beat up for being so goddamned ugly. We're adults now (and still fuck-ugly) and the swan's beauty has endured, only growing stronger as we grow older. In another 40 years, there we'll be, on a bench in a park with a bag of breadcrumbs in our hands, just watching the swans drift by, reminding us that in the end, everything turned out OK.
OH SHIT! RUN!
Getting chased through a park by a furious bird that will not stop trying to rip your skin off your bones is only funny until it happens to you.
Yes, swans are aggressive as hell. According to this video, the only defense against swan attack is to actually grab the bird by the neck and heave it as far as you can while onlookers applaud.
Just like that one girl in history class that you thought was the single most beautiful woman you'd ever seen in your life who you mooned over for months and left little notes for, it turns out swans are now and have always been vicious, mean little motherfuckers who will not hesitate to snap your fingers off one by one for daring to pollute its presence. And then going off to laugh with all their friends about what a huge loser you are.
In Ireland, it is not uncommon for university rowing teams to cancel practice because there is a swan in the river. Rowing teams tend to be composed of men who are built like very large trees. Trees that bench-press Volvos. These men are terrified of swans, probably due to a grizzled old rowing coach, always looking on from the shore, a bill-shaped scar where his left eye used to be.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
No way. No fucking way. What the hell are dolphins doing here?
This cannot be right. These guys save humans. Every other year or so, some diver or something gets lost out at sea, these guys bring them home. For fuck's sake, in November of 2004, a bunch of these guys banded together and saved three lifeguards from a great white shark off the coast of New Zealand.
They're fucking dolphins.
They can talk. They shoot high-pitched chirps and squeaks back and forth, slap their tails in the surf and jump around to let each other know what kind of day they're having. This is the only animal in the world that Americans feel proud of not eating. This is fucking Flipper here, every third girl you met in college had at least one tattooed somewhere on her body.
No animal in the world is more closely linked to DayGlo rainbows.
OH SHIT! RUN!
It turns out they're sex-crazed thrill-killers. How's that for a plot twist?
For the last 17 years or so, marine biologists have begun paying a great deal of attention to dead baby dolphins and porpoises of all ages washing up ashore, and we quote, 'mangled in unexpected ways.'
The discovery that Bottlenose Dolphins were occasionally viciously reconfiguring their own children wasn't really all that much of a big deal. Humans are the only species on the planet that actually gives even a tiny shit about infanticide. It was what the dolphins were doing to the porpoises that entered the domain of the 'seriously fucked-up'.
Thirteen-foot male Bottlenose Dolphins were hunting down porpoises, beating to death and then playing with their corpses, all for no readily apparent reason. At the time of this writing, the majority opinion of the marine science community was that this breathtakingly savage interspecies homicide is for--and this is Science, here--shits 'n' giggles.
Reports of ludicrously sexually aggressive dolphins attempting to rape human women abound from all over the globe. And in 1994, a male Bottlenose off the coast of San Paolo, Brazil, that was noted to be fond of female human swimmers attacked a pair of human males that the dolphin apparently considered to be competition ... and killed one of them.
Sure, some accounts say the man was drunk, and was actively trying to shove a stick into the dolphin's blowhole at the time. And several locals had apparently first tried to drag it out of the water so they could take a picture with it, maybe first dressing it up with a top hat and monocle.
And here, of course, we have arrived at our lesson: when dealing with animals, you need to forget everything you learned from cartoons. The results can be deadly otherwise.
You may remember Alex as the guy who scared your pants off last month when he told you about The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World. Also, be sure to check out the 35 best images from our Photoshop contest that shows you what would happen If Banner Ads Were Forced To Be Truthful....