A scientist says there is a possible explanation for the bizarre phenomenon involving a huge herd of sheep captured on film walking in a circle for 12 days in a row in China.
The chilling video, posted on Twitter by China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper last week, shows dozens of animals roaming a farm in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region.
The tweet accompanying the creepy footage assured viewers that the sheep are healthy — and the expert also suggests there may be a very natural reason behind the animals’ startling behaviour, which has people around the world worried.
Matt Bell, a professor at the Department of Agriculture at the University of Hartbury in Gloucester, England, told Newsweek. “Then the other sheep join in, because they are pack animals, and they bond or join their friends.”
The social behavior of sheep is dominated by a herd mentality, which controls the animals’ movements and protects individuals from predators by causing them to flee from danger as a group, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
The sheep have been moving in an almost complete circle since November 4. It’s unclear if she stopped eating or drinking or if she was still moving in unison as of Monday.
Metro reports that the owner of the sheep farm, who goes by the name of Ms. Miao, claimed that the spooky sheep tour started with just a few animals before the rest of the flock joined in.
Although there were 34 sheep pens on the farm, the sheep in one of the pens – No. 13 – were behaving this way.
Some have speculated that the sheep’s behavior could also be caused by a bacterial disease called listeriosis — also known as “rotating disease.”
The disease can be transmitted through contaminated food, soil, or animal feces. It causes a wide range of symptoms, including depression, loss of appetite, fever, partial paralysis, and cyclical behaviour.
Listeriosis usually causes infected animals to die within 48 hours, so it doesn’t explain how sheep in China kept walking in a circle for 12 days.
This article was originally published by the New York Post and reproduced with permission
Originally published as The Mystery of Sheep Walking in a Circle for 12 Days May Be Solved