The 6 Most Impressive Serial Criminals in the Animal Kingdom

#3. Mama Starling: Coin Thief


The Internet is like an elephant: It never forgets, and also it has a ton of crap inside. So it's no wonder that when a certain series of pictures started circling the Web ...

... they soon had a whole slew of stories attached, the most outrageous claiming that a whole gang of starlings -- or crows, since what are starlings, if not stunted crows? -- had robbed the owner of the car wash where this change machine was located of a whopping $4,000 in shiny quarters, which the owner later discovered on the roof of the building and took home to dive into Scrooge McDuck style. And of course there was the obligatory scientific, pixel-by-pixel study of the photographs and the subsequent cries of "FAKE!"

As always, the truth was somewhere in between. An owner of a car wash did in fact notice one day that there were so many quarters strewn around the parking lot that he thought someone had driven into one of his change machines. But upon closer inspection, he found the machine undamaged, with bits of dandelion and a cellophane wrapper from a cigarette pack jammed into the coin return.

"OK, OK, OK! Stop screaming -- I'll find a shinier place."

Puzzled, the next morning he broke out his camera and hid himself nearby. Soon, he had caught the thief red-handed on camera. Or rather, red-beaked. Because, you know ... bird.

More specifically, it was a female starling who had decided that a huge metal box that can only be accessed by squeezing oneself through a long, narrow metal chute was the perfect safe environment in which to build a nest and raise her young. Maybe she's one of those survivalist types.

The starling's only problem was that stupid humans kept clogging up her nest with those pesky metal disks, so she started to dispose of them, and had soon coerced other starlings into helping her use them to decorate the rooftops and mulch beds nearby. If only they had realized that those things could be used to get bags of chips out of vending machines, they could have ganged up with Sam the Seagull for the perfect caper.

Now the owner wasn't too thrilled about the fact that his change machine had suddenly become real estate without his consent, so he tried to foil the squatter by stuffing the chute with a paper towel ... which the starling also threw out. Next, he sealed it off with tape, but the bird just pecked right through that.

"What you got, son? Yeah, that's what I thought."

Eventually, he resorted to clogging up the coin chute with a cloth towel, and the starling finally decided her new home just wasn't worth taking all this shit from the landlord and gave up. Presumably she went on to settle down in a nice two-level soda machine in the suburbs.

#2. Santino the Chimp: Weapons Stockpiler


Resident of Sweden's Furuvik Zoo, Santino the chimpanzee took his criminal acts to a higher level when he actively engaged in warfare against the hapless humans who dared to visit his chimp island enclosure. Deciding he wasn't overly keen on the gawking families and school groups who crowded around his living space on a daily basis, Santino elected to show his displeasure by hurling rocks toward the hairless freaks. But of course that alone wouldn't be enough to get him a place on this list.

Although his reflexive violence toward tour groups has earned him a place in our hearts.

It didn't take long for the zookeepers to realize two related and very important things. First, the general public didn't spend much money at the zoo gift shop after having been pelted with rocks. Second, Santino never seemed to run out of ammo, creating a completely unacceptable cycle of tourists entering the zoo unbruised and unbleeding and leaving as neither of those things, with money still firmly planted in their pockets.

Wishing to understand just how Santino managed to keep such a ready supply of projectiles, one of his keepers decided to undertake a few hours of surveillance and found the perfect hiding place overlooking the chimpanzee enclosure, which allowed her to see what the warmongering ape got up to in the hours before opening time.

"Wait, is he using hair gel?"

We don't know what the keeper actually expected to discover, but we do know she didn't expect to see Santino waking up early and prowling around his enclosure, collecting loose chunks of stone and using them to create small piles of easily accessible ammunition. She also didn't expect to learn that her charge was apparently capable of behavior previously believed to be unique to humans -- the chimp only made these piles in the quarter of the island that faced the public viewing area, meaning that this wasn't just some weird ape behavior that could be easily laughed off: This was a goddamn preplanned attack.

"Yeah, laugh it up, shitbirds. I've got a .45 hidden under this stump."

The zookeeper's realization that she was trapped inside a Planet of the Apes prequel slowly swelled as she watched Santino fashion his own concrete disks of death by finding weak sections of the protective moat surrounding the island and punching them into submission until they gifted him with flat projectiles that he could add to his stockpile.

After the keepers became aware of Santino's tactics, they removed hundreds of the chimp's caches of stones, but he carried on regardless, being spotted on over 50 occasions stockpiling more ammunition for future assaults. Finally, they resorted to the only option they felt would help control his hostile behavior: They "castrated the poor guy."

There's something sadly symbolic about his abandoned stockpiles now.

Yeah, compared to animal criminals, the human ones get off easy.

#1. Nameless Macaque: Serial Escapist


It doesn't take a genius animal to escape from a cage -- it's just a matter of finding a hole or crack they can wedge through. It does take a genius to create an escape route that can be used repeatedly, and to conceal it even from the supposedly smarter humans whose job it is to keep that sort of thing from happening.

Unable to resist the luscious goodies growing in the local residents' gardens, the apparently nameless ape -- whom we shall hereby christen "McQueen" -- decided to fashion himself an escape route allowing him the freedom to plunder as many vegetable plots as he damn well pleased.

"Oh, don't even look at me like that. I replant everything I eat, you judgmental ass."

But not just any old "get out, get caught, get tossed back in the slammer" escape caper would do for this marauding macaque -- McQueen wanted a permanent two-way route to freedom, so he managed to pull apart the fence at the back of his enclosure at the Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic, leaving a gap large enough for him to sneak through whenever he thought he wasn't being watched. And he didn't stop there: Not wanting his rhubarb raids to be spoiled by his keepers, McQueen actually had the foresight to pull a wooden board over the hole, leaving the intrepid macaque to come and go as he pleased without zoo staff being able to see how he was managing it.

Unfortunately for the locals within the vicinity of the zoo, McQueen's trips nearly always involved a visit to their backyard gardens so that he could gorge himself on their lovingly tended fruits and vegetables. Like most serial escapists, he eventually got sloppy and was once photographed in the act of chowing down on a garden full of turnips and rhubarb by local gardener Zdenek Lounovi:

"Would it kill you to plant, like, literally anything else?"

The zookeepers eventually staged a full-on stakeout and caught McQueen escaping the enclosure via his hidden exit. They later denied rumors that he had fashioned a fake monkey head from the chewed-up leaves of a rhubarb plant and used it as a decoy to fool them into thinking he was asleep in the corner.

Baer's blog can be found here.

For more animals we need to watch out for, check out 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k and 6 Animals Humanity Accidentally Made Way Scarier.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to protect yourself from those asshole seagulls.

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