The strange behavior of sheep walking in circles has been discussed on the Internet for more than 10 days. According to scientists, this phenomenon has different causes.
A farmer in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region witnessed an unusual behavior with his animals: A group of sheep began walking in circles and did not stop for 12 days. It is stated that the sheep are still returning.
Although being a sheep is described as following the crowd blindly, does a sheep really follow a whole herd in a circle nonstop for days? It’s a mystery the internet has been grappling with for about a week, and it’s harder to solve than you might expect.
It Looks Like an Ant’s Death Spiral
On November 16, a Chinese state-run news outlet called the People’s Daily posted on Twitter an eerie video of dozens of sheep wandering in narrow, almost perfectly concentric circles in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. When the video was released, the herd had been following this pattern for over 10 days, which scared the ranchers.
Some on the internet have suggested that sheep enter a death spiral, as ants sometimes do. Others have suggested that these ruminant animals suffer from strapping disease. This disease is caused by soil bacteria that can infect one side of the animal’s brain, causing a bias towards the affected side. Usually, however, only a few percent of sheep are affected in an outbreak of strapping disease, and they tend to die after a few days following their strapping pattern.
It is Reported that the Sheep Are Still Returning
While media outlets reported that the animals did this for 12 days straight, no details were given about how the sheep ate, drank or relaxed during that time. As far as is known, they are still in this situation.
Emma Doyle, a livestock specialist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, told Nick Kilvert of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), “As soon as I saw it, I thought I’d never seen sheep act like this. It seems a bit dangerous. It looks like they’ve come up with something for you.” said.
However, in the images of sheep shared by other media from time to time, it is seen that there are sheep standing as if frozen in the middle of the circle.
Could be Zoochosis Syndrome
Matt Bell, an agronomist at Hartpury University in England, doesn’t think this mystery is a hoax. He told Newsweek’s Robyn White that after sheep are trapped in a corral for a long time, they can become frustrated and start pacing in a circle.
This is a common symptom in wild animals in captivity, especially big cats. It’s known as zoochosis and can lead to repetitive behaviors that don’t seem to serve any purpose. When an animal starts behaving this way, it can spread like a strange contagious disease.
“Then the other sheep join them and bond or join their friends, as they are herd animals,” Bell says. he explains.
The Mystery Continues
According to UK Metro, the owner of sheep in Inner Mongolia has noticed that more and more sheep are joining the ring as the days go by. This supports Bell’s explanation. According to reports, no other flock of sheep in the same field behaved this way. There was only this group.
A definitive explanation for why the circling herd in Inner Mongolia behaved this way has yet to come.