The 6 Most Impressive Serial Criminals in the Animal Kingdom
Have you ever turned around and caught your cat staring at you like he was planning something illegal? Well, guess what? It turns out that, judging by the actions of these animals, he probably totally was. The results range from creepy to adorable.
Sam the Seagull: Shoplifter
Unless you've been hiding under an Internet rock for the past few years, you've probably seen an animated gif of this seagull stealing a bag of chips from a store (and if you haven't, your day is about to improve dramatically):
Ha! Look at how he tries to casually walk out at first and then just runs for it. If you thought it was either a fake clip (from a commercial or something) or a freak occurrence that somebody happened to catch on their phone, you're wrong. That's Sam the Seagull from Aberdeen, Scotland. And he's a serial chip thief. And Sam had a serious case of the munchies for a certain brand of nacho chips, which is no surprise, considering that the orange powder those things are coated with is really processed cheddar-flavored heroin.
So, to get his fix, he regularly visited a local shop to swipe a pack. And no, the "silly animal doesn't know what stealing means" excuse won't fly here -- Sam clearly showed that he was completely aware of the illegal nature of his deed, treading carefully and waiting for an unobserved moment before striking, as you can see here:
As the shop assistant put it, "He's got it down to a fine art. He waits until there are no customers around and I'm standing behind the till, then he raids the place."
Sam became so popular, and the locals found his thievery so hilarious, that the locals started paying for the chips he stole so that the store wouldn't be tempted to try to stop him. Yeah, way to encourage criminal behavior, people. Now he'll tell all his little seagull friends, and before you know it these damn things will be flocking all over us anytime they think there's a chance they can swipe some food. It'll be like that Alfred Hitchcock movie, only all of the birds will be incredibly fat.
He's an angry bird because all those Snickers bars gave him diabetes.
Fred the Baboon Carjacker
You may not be surprised to hear that there's a history of gang violence in Cape Town, South Africa, but we're betting you will be surprised to hear that one of the most notorious gangs was headed up by a short, hairy baboon named Fred. And we're not insulting him -- he literally was a short, hairy baboon. Named Fred.
And Fred's crew likes to break into cars.
They run the world's third most adorable illegal chop shop.
The baboon earned a name for himself (though, sadly, not a more impressive one than "Fred") by staking out the road that leads to Cape Point (South Africa's most southerly point), and was often seen prowling up and down the roadside, carefully surveying the cars that had so carelessly stopped on his turf. Fred had figured out that automobiles were really just huge metal treat holders, and having realized that, it was only a matter of time before he learned that pulling on the door handles gave him instant access to the goodies within.
Also, it's not like he was fussy about whether anyone was actually in the car or not, leading to many a surprised tourist leaping out of the car as a baboon rummaged through their stuff. And if they weren't smart enough to get out, Fred had no qualms about shanking them with the knives that Mother Nature had so kindly built directly into his face.
"I'll just ... sign that title right on over, sir."
In fact, Fred and his gang caused so much trouble that Cape Town went to the lengths of employing a crack team of monkey specialists to try and ward the baboons off their vehicular targets. Team leader Mark Duffell said his baboon nemesis could "hit four or five cars in like five minutes."
This is roughly the point where it stops being cute.
Sadly, Fred's antics wouldn't be permitted forever, and he was eventually caught and given a lethal injection in March of 2011. It was only then that we learned the true badassness of this particular baboon -- an X-ray taken as part of his postmortem showed that Fred had continued his baboonjacking spree despite having been shot more than 50 times.
We highly doubt any of his victims survived being bit more than once.
Princess the Orangutan: Boat Thief
Princess was raised by Dr. Gary Shapiro, co-founder of the unfortunately named Camp Leakey, part of the even more unfortunately named Tanjung Puting National Park. Like most orangutans, Princess was chock-full of the smarts, and Shapiro successfully taught her how to use sign language, with the clever ape picking up over 30 signs with which to communicate.
And sign language wasn't the only human behavior she was picking up -- Princess took in everything that went on around her, and often entertained herself by mimicking the actions of the camp workers. It wasn't long until she'd figured out the art of transportation, and was filmed for Sir David Attenborough's Life of Mammals series as she paddled a canoe across the river. In fact, she was the first orangutan ever to be seen using a boat in the same way as a human.
And not in a "drunkenly flashing her boobs to skiers on Labor Day" sort of way.
But Princess didn't always find the locals willing to accommodate her desire for sailing, probably because she wasn't too careful about bringing the boat back once she'd finished using it. But she wasn't going to let such a trifling matter as lack of permission stop her from reaching her goal -- namely, a hoard of untouched food on the other side of the river (with the horde of pissed-off humans who regularly had to round up their missing canoes being an unintentional yet hilarious bonus).
When the camp workers realized their boats were no longer safe from a boat-stealing orangutan, they thought they could outwit her by hiding the paddles, but it turns out that's not an effective form of theft prevention when you're dealing with a creature that basically has paddles for hands:
If she made a little motorboat sound with her mouth while doing that, we would gladly buy her a yacht.
Deciding they'd need to employ more cunning tactics, the boat owners elected to start tethering the boats up, which, to an uninitiated person, may have seemed like a good enough idea. What they didn't take into account, however, was the fact that Princess could just do this:
Sure, a knot's going to stop an ape that can learn freaking sign language.
Needless to say, their next ingenious idea was equally unsuccessful, given that it wasn't so much "ingenious" as it was "Well shit, let's just tie the knots tighter." Finally, they resorted to weighing their canoes down with rocks until they needed them.
That's right, folks: Princess reduced the locals to sinking their own boats in order to stop her from stealing them.
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.
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.
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.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to protect yourself from those asshole seagulls.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!