5 International Incidents Caused by an Animal
Animals are always screwing things up for us humans, if 80s slapstick comedies are to be believed. But sometimes animals' adorable tomfoolery goes beyond disrupting a wedding and making a cranky old man fall hilariously into the cake. Sometimes, they can start freaking wars.
The War of the Mormon Cow
Back in 1851, a group of Mormon emigrants made their way across the Oregon Trail with the eventual goal of finding a home where they could bake rice crispies squares, and eschew alcohol and coffee in peace.
One of the Mormons had a crippled cow, which at some point got spooked and decided to wander off into the wilderness. Its owner started to follow but changed his mind when he noticed a ton of goddamn Sioux warriors in the surrounding area. Roughly four-thousand members of the tribe had gathered around the nearby Ft. Laramie to trade. The cow spent several hours doing cow-things before a few of the younger Sioux noticed that dinner had just stumbled into camp and killed the shit out of it.
That very next day, the Mormons arrived at Ft. Laramie and complained to the soldiers about the poached cow. Twenty-nine men and two cannons, lead by West Point graduate Lieutenant Grattan, marched out to talk with the Brule Sioux and seek justice for the cow--because nothing says "measured discussion" like a regiment with fucking cannons. None of the men spoke Sioux, but they had the foresight to bring along a French trader named Lucien Auguste, who spoke a completely different Indian dialect. Poorly.
They met with the Sioux Chief, Conquering Bear, and ordered him to turn over the cow's murderer, the spectacularly-named High-Forehead. Grattan was young, brash and eager for a fight, while Lucien Auguste was hammered and purposefully mistranslated much of what both men said (presumably because it seemed hilarious at the time).
Conquering Bear made a fair offer: any one of his finest horses to the Mormons in exchange for the slain cow. Rather than consulting with the Mormons or accepting the deal outright, the soldiers tried the bold bargaining tactic of shooting Conquering Bear in the back and starting a fight with 1,200 pissed off Sioux veterans. It didn't go well. The Grattan Massacre lead directly to the battle of Ash Hollow and is viewed as the first spark that ignited the Sioux Wars, which culminated in the Wounded Knee massacre, all of which might have been avoided had some lazy settler kept better track of his cow.
The War of the Stray Dog
In 1925, Greece and Bulgaria were locked in a simmering state of near-conflict. This had been a fairly common state of affairs between the two ever since Bulgaria had the gall to become a country. World War I had ended just a few years prior, and neither nation wanted to risk full-out armed conflict with the other until they'd both had a decade or two to recover. So a tense peace settled over the region right up until a Greek soldier lost control of his dog.
The sentry dog darted away from his master and crossed the Macedonian border into Bulgaria, perhaps because his master made an arm motion similar to throwing a ball. The panicked Greek soldier ran after the dog and was immediately shot dead by Bulgarian sentries, sparking a conflict that would come to be known as "The War of the Stray Dog."
Greek soldiers were sent out to occupy the nearby town of Petrich, where they clashed with Bulgarian soldiers and left 50 men dead. All-out war seemed inevitable, until the League of Nations surprised everyone by doing their goddamn job and stopping the war.
Greece was ordered to withdraw from Bulgaria and pay a fine of 45,000 of whatever they used for dollars back then. History doesn't record what happened to the dog, so we're going to speculate that it traveled to the United States and somehow caused the Great Depression.
Diplomatic Immunity For Pets
As you may be aware, diplomatic immunity allows the person holding it to get away with whatever the hell they want provided that you don't piss off Danny Glover on a day he's feeling particularly too old for this shit. It makes sense that this sort of immunity would extend to family members of said diplomat... but what about their pets?
As it turns out, some real-life diplomats have actually tried to use this argument on multiple occasions. Back in 1999, two German shepherds owned by the Russian Embassy got loose and slaughtered 17 pregnant sheep on a farm in Kent. The farmers demanded action, but since the Embassy was sovereign Russian territory there was jack shit they could do about it. Meanwhile the dogs continued their sheep murdering spree, dropping more than 50 of the animals once all was said and done.
It was officially decided that the dogs had diplomatic immunity and were therefore free from any repercussions. It wasn't without precedent; back in 1975 a dog belonging to a delegate from Barbados bit several locals, but when the police tried to intervene they were warned of "possible international consequences" if they messed with the dog in any way.
All of this pales in comparison to the case of diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith's cat in 1962. On a visit to the Indian state of Gujarat, Galbraith's children were gifted with two adorable Siamese kittens, one of which was named Ahmedabad. Because "Ahmedabad" is both a stupid and annoying name for a cat, the kids shortened it to Ahmed.
This proved to be hilariously disastrous, because "Ahmed" just happens to be one of the prophet Mohammed's many wacky alternate bonus names. When news of the cat's moniker showed up in the paper (why the hell this cat's name made the news we cannot be certain), the people of Pakistan reacted in a predictable manner.
Riots erupted across the country. U.S. facilities were stoned and American servicemen and embassy personnel were attacked in the streets. Mullahs in Pakistan called for the head of John Galbraith, who actually took it pretty damn well:
"I do not think the Pakistanis were particularly sensitive. In the darker reaches of our Bible Belt, there would have been criticism of a Pakistan ambassador who, at a moment of friction between our two nations, had, however innocently, named his dog Jesus."
Fortunately, Galbraith was able to pacify the situation by explaining that the name had been a complete accident and changing the kitty's name to Gujarat (once again ignoring the fact that "Mittens" has never offended anyone). When questioned on the incident, Gujarat took a nap in the sun for several hours before shitting in a nearby flower bed.
Shambo the Sacred Bull
As you may remember from middle school Social Studies, people of the Hindu faith consider cows to be sacred, believing that each part of the animal corresponds to a deity.
The Skanda Vale temple and Hindu community in West Wales has a small herd of holy cows in residence, where they are revered as beloved members of the spiritual family and are waited on hand and foot.
Unfortunatetly, Shambo, a black Friesian bull living in Skanda Vale, tested positive for tuberculosis in April of 2007. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ordered him killed in order to prevent the spread of TB to other livestock in the area. This pissed the normally-passive Skanda Vale community right the hell off, and they threatened to form a protective human chain around the bull.
As is usually the case with protective human chains, the side with an army prevailed. Hindu temple leaders from around the world petitioned for mercy, and even made the offer to ship Shambo back to India to treat him with Bovine TB medication, but since the meds were approved in India and not the UK, the government declined.
On July 26 of 2007, Shambo was executed. Tensions between India and the UK were strained which, after centuries of colonialism, is saying something. Shortly thereafter, two more bulls (that later tested negative for TB) were killed presumably because the BBC informed them the list of "terrible things the British have done to India" was getting a little stale.
Bruno the Bear
Through the ages, people all over the world have shared one passion: shooting large animals to death for no reason. The Bavarians were such great fans of murdering great toothy beasts that they shot all of their wild brown bears to death over 170-years ago, which is why folks were rather surprised when one started tooling around the Alpine border between Germany and Austria.
Bruno the Bear was first spotted in May of 2006 and caused an immediate sensation in Germany, "killing dozens of sheep, ransacking honey farms and venturing into chicken stalls." Basically, exactly the same sort of shenanigans you'd expect from a smarter-than-average bear.
Bruno's ballsiest move might have been the time he waltzed right into a Bavarian village and sat down in front of the police station. The government decided enough was enough and sent in a special Bear Patrol squad, made up of Finnish bear-hunters, dogs and wildlife experts. They tracked Bruno for two weeks solid, but after 14 days and $157,000 they weren't any closer to catching him.
Roland Melisch of the World Wildlife Fund called Bruno a "problem bear" but urged a live-and-let-live approach to the situation. Among other things, he suggested putting electric fences around beehives to keep Bruno out, totally ignoring the fact that giving bees access to electricity will only speed up the rate at which they threaten our dominance on Earth.
Predictably, the government ignored the pleas of the environmentalists and put out a "shoot to kill" order on Bruno. Shortly thereafter, hunters shot him to death and started making plans to stuff his body and put it in a museum.
That's when things got ridiculous. Apparently, Bruno was actually an Italian citizen who had accidentally wandered out of a wildlife refuge in Trento. Rome started a diplomatic row, demanding the return of Bruno's carcass to his homeland. The Germans refused and the disagreement goes on to this day, while Bruno's stuffed body waits for a decision in the Museum of Man and Nature in Munich, having lost interest in the whole affair back around the time he was shot to death.
For more animals that raised a ruckus, check out The 5 Creepiest Serial Killers (Who Were Animals) and 5 Of The Greatest Escape Artists Ever (Were Animals).
And stop by Linkstorm to see the origins of the Pink Panther.
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