The 6 Most Incredible Real World Beast Masters
Disney movies make hanging out with wild animals look like a walk in a fun, happy, completely predator-free park. But in the real world, being around untamed wildlife isn't so much about carefree singing and dancing and monkeyshinin' as it is about running and screaming. Then coming back later to clean up the poop trail you inevitably left behind.
Or it usually is, anyway. These people have apparently chosen to just go the Disney route, like ...
The Child With the 20-Foot Python
To explain this picture of a child cuddling his 20-foot-long snake, we have to tell a story.
Surprisingly, it didn't end with the kid as poop.
Imagine you're the proud parents of a 3-month-old baby. Here's what a 3-month-old baby looks like, in case you're not from here (Earth):
All that's missing is the colic.
So, small. No neck control. Tiny. Now imagine that you walk into your baby's room in the morning and you find a snake in his bed. Not just any snake, but a 2-foot-long baby python. You'd kill the thing, right? Just straight up find a shoe or hammer or whatever and beat it like you're Keith Moon and the snake is a drum.
Not Koun Samang's dad, who found a python in his baby's bed and sweetly returned it to the jungle, presumably while giving it a back massage and singing it snaky lullabies. When the snake showed up again, he did it again. Three freaking times this happened, before he just gave up getting rid of the thing and welcomed it into the family, deciding that the snake had a thing for his son.
"Hey, what's the worst that could happen?"
Seven years later, Samang and the now-giant snake he named "Lucky" are going strong. Did we say "strong?" We meant "Holy crap, that's not natural. RUN, SON, RUN!"
Today the snake is over 20 feet long and could easily eat the boy ... or a dinosaur or a house, if she felt like it. But it doesn't. Samang considers the serpent his sister, which is pretty messed up considering how often they kiss ...
Tasting. When a snake kisses, you call it tasting.
On, and he rides her like a Hoveround:
When not making everyone around him uncomfortable, Samang spends his days teaching Lucky sissy tricks and feeding her chicken. We'd make some snarky comment here, but we're actually not big on the idea of mocking a kid who apparently is the King of the Giant Serpents.
"FIND THE INTERNET COMEDIANS, MY SERVANT! FIND THEM, AND KILL!"
The Lion Whisperer
Kevin Richardson is a "self-taught" (dropped out) zoologist who raises lions and hyenas in South Africa. And we should probably clarify that he's not some circus performer getting lions to do cartwheels and battle chairs for a paying public. These are not tame animals. They're as wild as Girls Gone! and twice as deadly. And Richardson treats them like this:
He hasn't had nipples in years.
Again, we want to make a bestiality joke there. But we do not want to get eaten.
Richardson is so confident in his relationship with 400-pound cats that he will often go into their enclosures to sleep with the pride. Not that he's never been mauled -- he totally was -- but he just shook it off. The lions do that to each other from time to time, after all. Just part of life in the pride.
Apparently none of the lions in his park are suitable for reintroduction into the wild, so the females have been sterilized. Which is a major downer on the group dynamics of the pride, and also means Richardson has to break up fights between males competing for dominance.
Come on, dude. Now you're just showing off:
"Seriously, man, flossing. It's a thing."
Gilberto Shedden and His Half-Ton Crocodile
Gilberto "Chito" Shedden is a Costa Rican fisherman who has a 17-foot, 1,000-pound crocodile as a pet. Remember how we all thought Steve Irwin was a nutjob for his crocodile-wrestling ways? Here's Irwin, the wildlife expert, doing his thing:
OK, now compare his croc to Shedden's friend, Pocho:
We're saying his croc has pooped bigger crocs than the one Irwin has up there.
Here's one of the gruesome twosome playing in the river. Or, it's a dragon slayer and his freshly defeated kill, we can't tell:
So how did these two hook up? According to Shedden, he found his leathery friend 20 years ago, after it had been shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer. Together with some friends, Shedden took the 150-pound croc to his house and nursed it back to health with medicine, food and constant supervision. Before you knew it, Chito and Pocho were making buddy cop movies and having serious conversations about wife swapping.
Today, tourists go out of their way to watch the two frolic and wrestle and have foot races. And how does Chito know his amigo will never, ever eat him?
"Pocho is my best friend. This is a very dangerous routine but we have a good relationship. He will look me in the eye and not attack me. It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us."
You're damned right it is, Chito.
Jim's Indoor Pet Buffalo
A buffalo and a farmer walk into a bar. That's it. There's no punchline. That's just what happens every now and then in Spruce Grove, Canada, where Jim Sautner and his 1,600-pound pet buffalo "Bailey D. Buffalo Jr." hit the pub for the sauce. Most cars can't accommodate this walking Flintstones joke, but Sautner fixed his sedan up right good:
And it's not like Sautner saunters over to the field to pick up his buffalo on the way out the door ... the beast lives with him and his wife. He's a pet. The largest domesticated pet in the world, unless someone's holding back on their orca bowl.
Not pictured: All the poop.
And this isn't even Sautner's first pet buffalo. His first one (Bailey Sr.) died in a freak farm machine accident, and Sautner adopted orphaned Bailey Jr. (no relation) as his bison rebound. So you can kind of think of the two as Annie and Daddy Warbucks, if Annie weighed as much as a car and Daddy Warbucks' first kid got eaten by a combine.
The Hyena Masters
For most of us, a nightly routine is just about brushing our teeth, putting on our jam-jams and checking for lumps before hitting the hay. For Youseff Mume Saleh, his nightly routine is all of those things, plus one more: Feeding a pack of wild hyenas, sometimes by dangling meat from his teeth. Here's Scar and his minions right before they killed Mufasa:
"I can see no way for this plan to backfire."
So, what would possess an otherwise sane person to risk his life in service to the wildest, meanest cat-dogs in the world? It turns out Saleh's town in Ethiopia has a long history with hyenas, beginning two hundred years ago when the villagers began feeding porridge to the animals to keep them from people-eating. And in the 1960s, a Harar farmer began feeding the local hyenas scraps of meat in an attempt to stop the packs from murdering his livestock, and the first "Hyena Man" was born.
The arrangement works so well that in Harar, there are actually two hyena men, each one feeding a different pack at a different location. We can only hope the two don't meet in the town square to settle their rivalry "Beat It" style.
Or, more realistically, Weird Al's "Eat It" style.
Our favorite hyena man (Saleh) is so confident of his relationship with the animals that he'll shoo some of the more aggressive hyenas away so the shyer members of the pack can get their fair share. He's become somewhat famous for it (even before we wrote about him) and, hell, people have gotten famous for less:
Tonie Joubert and Jessica the Hippo
Cracked has already spent plenty of words, space and sweat warning the masses of the dangers of hippos. So we almost feel like we're being especially reckless on this next entry. OH WELL.
Forget everything we've ever told you about hippos and go buy one right now, is what we're saying.
People who actually live around hippos are frightfully aware of how dangerous they are. But when South African game warden Tonie Joubert found an orphaned, day-old hippo-cute-omus still attached to its umbilical cord, he did what any reasonable person would do: He nursed her to health, adopted her and named her "Jessica."
Because "Susan" would have just been ridiculous.
Eventually, Jessica reached a size where keeping her in the house became about as problematic as keeping an adult hippo in your house, especially since she had already broken three beds, and the family moved their baby to the front porch. At this point, the Jouberts have earned the distinction of having raised the only known domesticated hippopotamus in history. We can't say we're proud of them, though, since they're raising their fat daughter on a diet of coffee, sweet potatoes and a Veruca Salt level of indulgence.
Wait, is that beer? She sure as hell better not be driving later.
For animals you shouldn't try to domesticate, check out 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k and 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see how Swaim's doing with his pet gorilla.
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