WTF Fun Fact 13421 – Sheep Walking in Circles

Do you ever feel like you’re going around in circles? Well, for a group of sheep in Inner Mongolia (in northern China), it’s the truth – the case of the sheep walking in circles has intrigued the whole world.

Why are sheep walking in circles in China?

The flock of sheep has been making headlines and leaving observers utterly baffled. Imagine this: over 400 fluffy creatures spending a dozen days walking in circles, around the clock, for no apparent reason.

You can see for yourself in a Tweet from late 2022 that shows the eerie action:

It all started when unsuspecting farm owner Ms Miao noticed a few members of her flock of 445 sheep acting peculiar. Rather than the usual meandering, the sheep kept moving in a uniform, nonstop circle. It became even more perplexing as the rest of the sheep joined in.

This seemingly synchronized movement lasted for an incredible 12 days!

So, what on earth was going on?

Internet theories bounced back and forth from the absurd to the scientific. Some whispered about extraterrestrial influences. Others suggested the sheep were performing a ritualistic dance or following a leader stuck in a rut. Some more grounded thinkers proposed the possibility of a viral infection causing neurological symptoms, leading the sheep to walk in a circle. Yet, no one could point out a definitive answer.

Local authorities and veterinarians jumped into action, trying to unravel the mystery of the circular march. They examined the sheep, searching for any signs of disease or infections. The result? No physical health issues. It was as if the sheep were merely marching to the beat of their own drum, oblivious to the stir they were causing.

Meanwhile, the spectacle continued to bewitch spectators and intrigued academics around the globe. Experts in animal behavior from different universities began investigating the phenomenon. They poured over the footage, studying each sheep’s motion, their interactions, and their formation’s intricacy.

Unraveling the mystery of the sheep circle

Eventually, animal experts stepped in to explain that the sheep were merely following their instinctual herd behavior. Sheep are flock animals, and they follow their leaders. If the leader walks in a circle, the others will follow, creating a perpetuating cycle until something disrupts it.

The experts’ opinion might not be as exciting as alien communication, but it was certainly more plausible. In this case, the most likely scenario was that the leading sheep started walking in a circle, maybe due to a physical ailment, and the rest merely followed, each sheep dutifully following the one in front. This theory, while not confirmed, put an end to some of the more far-fetched theories.

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Source: “Mystery of Sheep Walking in Circle in China for 12 Days Potentially Solved” — Newsweek

WTF Fun Fact 12427 – A Wooly Plummet

In 2005, Turkish newspapers reported an incident in which over 400 sheep died. It happened when one fell off a 50-foot cliff – and the rest followed!

That’s what they mean when they say, “don’t be a sheep.”

There were over a thousand sheep on the cliff that day, with each family in the small Van province of Turkey owning about 20 apiece. However, 1,100 animals survived the plunge because the hundreds of sheep that jumped first cushioned their fall.

At the time, the entire flock of sheep was estimated to be worth anywhere from $55,000 to $100,000.

According to the BBC, one villager told the Aksam daily newspaper: “Every family had an average of 20 sheep. But now only a few families have sheep left. It’s going to be hard for us.” – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Turkish sheep die in ‘mass jump'” — BBC News

WTF Fun Fact – Rectangular Pupils

WTF Fun Fact - Rectangular Pupils

Sheep, goats, octopuses and toads have rectangular shaped pupils. These animals need to have a defense both day and night, but they don’t have vertical slits like cats since they need to survey their surroundings more accurately. – WTF Fun Facts