We patronize animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth." ~ Henry Beston
About twelve years ago I started collecting little items about strange animal behavior; "when animals go mad" kind of collection. Intrigued by stories of animals behaving strangely, whether aggressively or not, I mentioned this to one of my folklore professors at the time, who commented it was an interesting focus, but what were my intentions regarding this material of animal madness and anomalous behavior? I had no idea; I just knew that these small items of animals behaving in unexpected ways was important.
I still am not sure what I want to do with all this data, but I do know that these stories have increased through the years. While these stories are, at first look, entertaining or mystifying, there’s something deeper at work here. The animals are signaling, whether it’s fish falls, odd friendships, attacks, whale strandings, disappearing bees, escaped cows marked for slaughter or bear invasions. Obviously the global changes that are occurring, -- and that are about to occur -- are responsible for these out of place animal behaviors.
Volumes could be filled with stories like these, but a few random examples will have to do for now.
Classic Fortean Events
Classic Fortean stories of animals falling from the sky still occur (also called "Fafrotskies") like the recent falls of tadpoles and fish in Japan. In February, the Fortean-cryptozoology blog Still on the Track reported on a fish fall in England.
Bears Gone Wild
In particular, it seems bears of all varieties, all over the world, are behaving oddly as well aggressively. A gruesome story from Sweden involving a bear taking down and killing an elk on a school yard; adding to the shock was the fact that bears were rarely seen in the area. A recent Monster Quest episode discussed black bears "invading" urban areas, a problem all over the United States, as well as globally.
There are great stories of cattle, in line for slaughter for our consumption, suddenly making a break for it . Usually these cows when later found are allowed to live out their days elsewhere, though not always, as this poor cow in Montana found out, after being recaptured when it tried to run for it. Cows are also becoming more aggressive, attacking humans. (Although I never considered cows to be non-aggressive; they’ve always spooked me a little, and I remember being chased by cows once in a California pasture.) In two separate incidents in England, two women were trampled to death by a herd while walking by cow pastures.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Whale strandings are particularly sad. A combination of reasons for these tragic events are offered: global warming, pollution, parasites, naval exercises involving sonar that interferes with the whales natural senses, etc. Recent strandings include one in New Zealand: Rare blue whale found dead on New Zealand beach and Hawaii: Rare striped dolphin is found on a beach in Hawaii. Some however have suggested that whales are consciously communicating with us. In Debra Merskin’s beautifully written article about a tragic event in my state of Oregon she relates a stranding on the Oregon coast from thirty years ago. Song of the whales: Mysterious and disturbing strandings call us to consciousness (Several more strandings have since taken place.) she writes of a specific whale stranding in Oregon thirty years ago, and comments on the "ecological consciousness" in respect to strandings:
To say that whale strandings are a class for ecological consciousness seems like a cliché, because we have heard this clarion call for so long — but apparently we haven’t been listening.
"If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys." ~ Chief Dan George
But we can go deeper. Aside from the obvious reasons (global warming, etc.) for such behaviors among animals, there’s something more conscious, an actual intent on the part of animal in relation to us. Merskin refers to a Greenpeace volunteer who suggested the whales were stranding because Merskin refers to a Greenpeace volunteer who "suggested that the whales were tired from running for their lives from whalers." Despite my own inclination to ignore the signals and apocalyptic vibrations coming at us in waves from the future -- cloud madness, increased UFO sightings, chimera like pronouncements from government, swine flu sound bites, chemtrails and orbs in the skies above us, familicide and "random" murders -- it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore these signals.
I still don’t know what my intent is concerning these animal events, but whatever their context (attacks, escapes, strandings, or Fortean, anomalous encounters) it seems that the data is taking me somewhere I hadn’t expected to go. These often times downright weird stories of animals are messages; direct to us from them, signals that have been coming to us for a long time.