Wild animals are beautiful to look at… or at least they are from afar. That’s because wild animals are exactly that–wild. That means you’re probably best to stay far away and to not try and tame them as pets or snuggle up to them in order to snap a selfie.
Yet every year we hear ridiculous stories of humans who for one reason or another tempted fate by playing with a wild lion, or tiger, or bear (oh my), and lost their lives in the process. Hot on the heels of another such story, below, here are 10 tales of lethal animal encounters that could have totally been avoided.
Grin and “bear” it
Selfie deaths are becoming a real thing, especially in India where 60 per cent of all such deaths between March 2014 and September 2016 took place. The latest such incident went down this year on May 4, when Prabhu Bhatara spotted an injured bear on his way home from a wedding, cozied up to the creature to take a photo, and was immediately attacked. A forest ranger later said he “died on the spot.”
The not-so-perfect pose
When Moses Ndlovu and his two buddies saw three elephants hanging out in a bushy area in Zimbabwe last year, they did what any passerby probably wouldn’t do and tried to drive the animals into a more open space in order to snap photos. Rather than getting the money shot the lucky friends fled when the elephants charged, but Moses was trampled to death.
New Year’s resolution
Prakesh Tiwari and Suresh Rai may have had good intentions when they drunkenly entered a tiger enclosure at the Calcutta zoo on New Year’s 1996. But when they attempted to put a marigold garland around the neck of a Royal Bengal tiger named Shiva, the tiger attacked. Rai survived, but Tiwari did not.
When hanger strikes
Fifty-year-old rubber-trapper Prawat Dinchu had obviously never been hangry before. While visiting a Buddhist temple in Malaysia to see a five-elephant show troupe, he began teasing one of the creatures with a stalk of sugarcane, denying the elephant the delicious snack over and over again. Eventually the elephant got so fed up at not getting its treat that it simply gored the man with its tusks and then stamped on him. Dinchu died en route to the hospital.
Hie Kerdchoochuay may have had an unusual gift in his ability to charm snakes, but that doesn’t mean he had the smarts to go with it. In May 1999 the 55-year-old man was called to help catch a python from a neighbour’s home in Thailand. The capture was successful enough, but as Kerdchoochuay was transporting the thing home in a sac he stopped to show it off to some villagers by draping it around his neck. They python took hold and needless to say, the man never charmed another snake again.
One killer whale
It’s unclear what 27-year-old Daniel Duke’s mindset was in July 1999 when he slipped past security at Sea World in Florida, waited until the park closed, and then stripped down to his underwear and entered the enclosure of Tillikum—the largest killer whale in captivity. His body was later found in the tank draped over the five-ton animal. In the official report from the medical examiner the cause of death was listed as hypothermia and drowning, but the boy’s parents eventually sued the theme park and noted the puncture wounds on their late son’s lower half indicated he had been pulled into the pool.
Hungry, hungry hippo
Humphrey the Hippo may have been “like a son” to 41-year-old owner Marius Els, who raised the animal since it was five months old, riding it, swimming with it, and playing with it. But it seems as though the feeling might not have been mutual. The six-year-old hippo viciously attacked the South African farmer in 2011, biting him to death. The farmer’s body was later found submerged in a river on the property.
A bitter beaver
They may look cute and friendly, but beavers can be deadly too. One man learned that the hard way in 2013, when he and his friends stopped their car on their way to a fishing trip in Belarus after they spotted a beaver wandering along the side of the road. The man picked up the animal in order to pose for a photo, but the beaver had other ideas. It bit him several times, eventually striking a major artery in his leg. He was later pronounced dead.
Don’t bring a knife to a cockfight
Never give a bird a knife—especially when they’re trained for a fight. Jose Luis Ochoa had previously paid $370 in fines for owning or training an animal for fighting, but that clearly wasn’t enough to deter him from attending an illegal cockfight in California in 2011. It was there that an angry bird with a knife attached to its limb stabbed Ochoa in the leg, leading to the man’s death two hours later.
Apparently the entrance fee at a Chinese zoo was too much for one man to cough up, so he and his buddy scaled a fence to sneak in instead. The buddy stayed back, but “Zhang” got through wire netting and climbed a wall to enter the tiger enclosure too, where he was promptly attacked and killed while visitors watched and took videos from afar.