A scientist says there is a possible explanation for the bizarre phenomenon that saw a huge flock of sheep running in circles for 12 days in China.
The eerie video, posted to Twitter by China’s state-run newspaper People’s Daily last week, shows dozens of the animals marching around a farm in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region.
The tweet that accompanies the creepy footage reassured viewers that the sheep are healthy – and the expert suggests there could also be a very natural reason for the animals’ odd behavior, which has unsettled and confused people around the world Has.
“It appears that the sheep are in the pen for a long time and this could lead to stereotyped behaviors, with repeated circling due to frustration at being in the pen and limited,” said Matt Bell, a Department of Agriculture professor at Hartpury University in Gloucester, England, to Newsweek. “Then the other sheep join, as they are herd animals, and bind or join their friends.”
Sheep social behavior is dominated by the herd mentality, which controls the animals’ movements and protects individuals from predators by causing them to flee danger as a group, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
The sheep have been moving in an almost perfect circle since November. 4. It’s unclear if they stopped eating or drinking on Monday, or if they were still moving in unison.
The owner of the sheep farm, identified as Ms. Miao, claimed the spooky sheep dance began with just a few animals before the rest of the herd joined in, Metro reported.
Although there are 34 sheep pens on the farm, only the sheep in one of the pens – No. 13 – had behaved this way.
Some have speculated that the sheep’s behavior could also be caused by a bacterial disease called listeriosis – also known as “circling disease”.
The disease can be transmitted through contaminated food, soil, or animal feces. It causes a variety of symptoms, including depression, loss of appetite, fever, partial paralysis, and spinning tops.
Listeriosis usually kills infected animals within 48 hours, so doesn’t explain how sheep in China ran in circles for 12 days.
This article was originally published by the New York Post and is reproduced with permission
Originally published as Mystery of Sheeps Walking in Circle for 12 Days can be solved