5 Animals That Defeated the Human Oppressors Who Wanted to Keep Them in Captivity
We don’t know about you, but we get all our information about animals from cartoons. That’s why when we see an animal fleeing from humans, we straightaway side with the animal. We don’t ask if the tiger running through the streets is a menace, or if that monkey stole someone’s wallet. We root for the beast to win, and in the following tales, the beast actually does.
A Florida Man Tried to Kill Some Puppies. A Dog Shot Him Back
In 2004, Jerry Allen Bradford found himself with a litter of seven puppies and no one to claim them. Three months after the puppies were born, they had nowhere to go, so he figured he had to put them down. He did not choose to send them to a shelter that kills animals, nor did he pick that old reliable method of putting them in a sack and throwing it in the river. He decided to shoot each puppy in the head, one after the other.
And hey, maybe this is a painless way to die. Bradford, however, went about the process in a somewhat irresponsible manner. He had one puppy in his left hand, another in his arms, and his right hand held his gun. One puppy then put its paw on the trigger of the revolver. It discharged, shooting Bradford in the wrist.
This sounds like a tall tale, but if it were up to Bradford to explain how he’d come to be shot in the wrist, he should have just said he’d accidentally discharged his firearm himself. Instead, by admitting to his unsanctioned puppy-killing scheme, he got himself arrested for felony animal cruelty. The surviving puppies, meanwhile, were taken by animal control, who put them up for adoption.
A Cow Escaped the Slaughterhouse and Became the Ultimate Bridesmaid
Animals are supposed to go to the slaughter without putting up a fight. That’s why we have that expression about meekness — “like a sheep being led to the slaughter.” And if an animal wanted to escape Frank Arena’s slaughterhouse in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, they’d have a hard time. They’d have to leap over a 5-foot gate. A 1,400-pound cow can’t do that, right?
But in November 1995, Emily the Cow did exactly that. Slaughterhouse workers gave chase, following her into the woods, but they couldn’t keep up. They later put down bales of hay in the woods in hopes of enticing her back, but she didn’t take the bait. Instead, other people in the area spotted her joining up with a herd of deer.
Emily could not have survived like that long-term. Then a Quaker family became interested in her. This family, the Randas, ran an art-and-education complex called The Peace Abbey, which sounds like a cult, but it isn’t one (we checked). Arena still officially owned Emily, and they offered to buy her from him. He charged them $500. Afterwards, though, he thought it over (possibly being urged on by his granddaughter, who was the one who’d named the cow) and reduced the price to $1.
The Randas moved the cow to the abbey, and another farm donated a calf to keep her company. Plenty of visitors came to see Emily, and a few even held weddings at the Peace Abbey, pulling Emily in as a bridesmaid. Some brides are content to make themselves look better by merely picking frumpy bridesmaid dresses, but apparently, others need to take it one step further.
McFlurry Lids Got Stuck on Hedgehogs, So McDonald’s Changed the Design Worldwide
Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to think of cute cows every time you eat a Big Mac. Nor need you think about chickens, pigs or whatever type of millipede McDonald’s grinds up to make its Filet-O-Fish sandwich. That’s why this next story isn’t about any kind of animal we kill for food. It’s about hedgehogs.
In 2000, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) noticed that the animals kept getting their heads stuck in McFlurry lids. You know, those lids at the top of the dessert containers, which kind of cover the ice cream but still leave enough room for you to dig in? A hedgehog would poke its head in (attracted by the scent of crushed Oreos), then would be unable to get out. The BHPS asked McDonald’s to change their lids and fix this.
Which is crazy, right? Why would McDonald’s bother responding to this tiny animal welfare group? Why wouldn’t they say, “Um, how about you British people try just not dumping McFlurry cups in the woods? Try throwing them in the trash, and your problem will go away.” But the BHPS campaigned for six years, and McDonald’s ended up changing the lid’s design, switching to a smaller opening that wouldn’t entrap any more hedgehogs.
As a bonus, we’ve got another quick story for you in which an even lowlier animal fell victim to litter, until companies went for a redesign. In the 1980s, Australian beer bottles had bumps on them. This unintentionally made their surfaces resemble female jewel beetles — at least to male jewel beetles, whose main goal in life is spotting female jewel beetles. As such, males would attempt to mate with discarded bottles.
They, of course, could not mate successfully with the bottles. Evolution, however, offered them no clue for what to do when mating does not finish to completion, so the males would just mount the bottles and never let go. Ants, sensing vulnerable prey, would climb over a stationary beetle and eat his exposed genitals, and still the male stayed put. Australian beermakers changed the design of their bottles to free beetles from this torment, just as a favor from one group of blokes to another.
Australians Stuck Harnesses on Birds. The Birds Took Them Off Each Other
Also from Australia, we have the following case of trapped animals: Scientists strapped harnesses onto magpies, harnesses with GPS trackers to monitor the birds’ movements and social dynamics. You might point out that these harnesses were not designed to hurt the magpies in any way, and in fact, ultimately aimed to help the species. But you know who didn’t know that? The magpies, who just knew that humans had attached something to them, in flagrant violation of bird rights.
The scientists spent six months designing a kind of harness a magpie wouldn’t be able to remove. Even a human would need a sharp tool to take it off — or a magnet, such as the kind they placed in feeding stations to automatically remove the harnesses when magpies came to eat sometime later.
Yet, one hour into the experiment, the magpies removed the first harness. No magpie was able to remove its own harness, but a magpie was able to remove someone else’s harness, and they soon removed them all. Scientists hadn’t thought the birds capable of that level of altruism. Or of that level of intelligence: The birds had to spot an exact weak point in the harness to know where to peck.
The magpies obviously ruined the original experiment. It’s some consolation, though, that at least the birds removed the harnesses using their beaks, rather than designing magnets of their own. “Magnets, how do they work?” is a question many birds ask each other to this day.
An Octopus Got Out of Its Aquarium and Down the Drain
Some animals (like magpies) impress us with mild acts of ingenuity, but octopuses are above that. Octopuses use tools. They solve puzzles for fun. It's the sort of fascinating fact that leaves some people reading this thinking, “It’s not ‘octopuses,’ it’s ‘octopi.’” Octopuses wouldn't think that, because they’re too smart to worry about such things.
Quite a few stories tell of octopodes leaving their tanks or even unlocking their cages. The ultimate award for Best Escape by An Octopus has to go to Inky, who broke out of a New Zealand aquarium in 2016. Not only did he get out of his tank, but he crossed the aquarium floor, stumbled upon a drainpipe and squeezed his way into its six-inch opening (despite being the size of a soccer ball).
This all sounds freakishly like Finding Nemo. And while we can debate how much a shot those fish ever had of succeeding, that pipe Inky slipped into led directly into the waters of Hawke’s Bay, to freedom. Yeah, Inky showed himself more than capable of acting out a prison-breakout movie. Next, we want to see a heist movie with an all-octopus cast. They can call it Ocean’s 8.