Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by HaoZi, Apr 26, 2011.
This is sad.
I saw this. Sad. I think we always have to remember that all animals are innately wild/feral. At some level even us as humans have this innate wild streak.
Life as we know it is a zoo
I actually feel as bad for the dingoes as I do the kid. They were just doing what nature built them to do, not their fault humans like where they live.
Yeah, kinda like the pit bull debate. They are the victims, as much as the human. Our world is too small for all of us.
I have never been to Fraser Island, but plenty of my family have. It's a place where people can drive their 4WDs (SUVs) over sand, because it is, I believe, the largest sand island in the world. It's accessible only by car ferry. Vehicles are not allowed all over the island, only in designated areas. But people bring food and they either leave rubbish for the dingoes to eat, or they feed them against the rules. Or the dingoes steal stuff. The wild dingoes get too bold and will try to steal anything. They don't discriminate between leftover food and a wandering child.
The Fraser Island dingoes are much whiter than the mainland dingoes. A beautiful animal, but scary. Adults who get off track alone are also vulnerable to dingo attack - they will kill as a pack if they think the animal (or human) is potentially prey.
I've told the story of when difficult child 3 was little, about 2 years old, and e were on holiday on the Gold Coast (Fraser Island is just off the coast there). As we are zoo junkies, we went to various wildlife parks in the area including Fleay's. At Fleay's there were a lot of animal pens, large enclosures with high wire fences and boardwalks for people to walk through. That way you could watch the animals from higher up. It was great for difficult child 3 who, as a little kid, would not have seen much otherwise.
Fleay's had lots of different types of dingoes in enclosures. Most of these had been bred there, in captivity. But there were about ten or more dingoes in each large pen, each from a different area. As we walked around, we had let difficult child 3 out of his stroller and he was running on ahead, playing. We could see him but we were about 10 metres behind him on the boardwalk which was completely protected by very high mesh fences topped with inhanging barbed wire. We noted that the Fraser Island enclosure was even more securely fenced. As difficult child 3 ran into the area where this enclosure was, I saw the dingoes there fan out and start to work him like a pack hunting. They had no chance of getting to him, but if that fence had not been there, they would have had him in a minute. No sound at all, just their intent gaze as they stalked him as a pack. Then suddenly the sound of bodies hitting the wire - dingoes were throwing themselves at the fence, tying to get the kid on the other side. difficult child 3 just laughed at the "funny doggies", he had no sense of danger. We grabbed him, strapped him into the stroller and got him out of there. And reported the interaction to the keepers. Such behaviour in zoo animals is a major concern. Last we heard, those dingoes were taken off exhibit.
I have rarely been so scared, and have no real desire to visit Fraser island.
We do have some dangerous animals in Australia, but we are careful and we know the risks at all times. Tasmanian Devils are nothing like the creature in Bugs Bunny cartoons, except for the ferocity. They are the size of a small corgi, but you do not want to try to pat one (unless the zoo keeper says it's OK). They have a jaw strong enough to bite through solid bone. At the zoos in Tasmania, they feed the Devils on road-kill kangaroo. We visited Tasmania Devil Park (when difficult child 3 was 11 years old) and they told us of a Cape Barren Goose (very large turkey-sized Aussie bird) which had been flying around and touched down inside the Devil enclosure. It never got the chance to take off again. The keepers saw it happen but had no chance to save the bird. Gone in seconds. No need to feed those Devils that night!
The dingoes that attacked the girl - they would have done it again at the next opportunity, it is learned behaviour. The trouble is, the rest of the pack will have learned this too. They need to either remove the dingoes, or fence them off from the areas where people go. Or stop people going there.
The trouble is, the island is administered by Queensland government, perhaps the most lax in Australia when it comes to laws on interaction with wildlife. This was not the first attack and will certainly not be the last. Sadly.
When Azaria Chamberlain was taken from her parents' tent by a dingo at Uluru, the end result was a ban on camping at the Rock. Rules changed, even though for some years people believed that the mother murdered the baby; she was in jail for it until they found proof that she had told the truth. A major miscarriage of justice. But there are many more dingoes in that area than on Fraser Island, but far fewer attacks especially these days, because dingo-human interaction has been greatly curtailed.
I am sure my Tesla is a thousand times removed from her relatives - but I am here to tell you the teeth this girl has are intense. I have never seen any like them, and apparently that is one of the hallmark traits of a dingo. I really have to work with her not to nip to get what she wants. She is the most friendly dog I have ever had with both humans and dogs, so she has obviously been very domesticated - but instinctively her natural reaction to get attention or an object is to nip. I have some nasty bruises.
At one place we worked we always gave out the "Taz" award for anyone who worked the hardest that day. Little did I know they are vicious.
I would love to go visit Australia. Maybe someday. So would the dingos in Australia be considered the same as maybe the wolves in the States? I would say coyotes, but actually coyotes rarely attack humans. They are very skittish and shy.
Progress. We just can't leave ANYPLACE alone for animals. I am sorry about the child. UGH. WILD THINGS BELONG IN THE WILD.
Coyotes aren't as skittish and shy as most people think, and there have been attacks on humans. Like dingoes, they also usually target someone small or with mobility issues and go in as a pack, but it does happen. And there's a lot of coy-dogs running around, wild and domestic (depending on the mother). When I lived in Florida we had coyotes that would come up into the yard at night, even tried to go after the puppies once or twice (back when the dog I had was a pup, and her mother put a stop to that FAST). And when I say the yard, even though it was on 3 acres, I'm talking within 20 feet of the trailer we were living in.
Wherever we have people living on the fringes of wild, we get animals and people interacting and sometimes clashing. For example, we live on the edge of the second oldest national park in the world - it's a matter of months younger than Yellowstone, and in fact the land for ours was set aside for recreation unofficially, before Yellowstone was set aside. This place is old. But back then, the idea was to create a sort of English parkland where the gentry could ride to hounds. So they released foxes and deer. And now we have a major garden pest, in the deer. They come right into the town every night, will go into our backyards if we leave gates open. Our local authorities don't like us to have front fences, but if we don't have a fence, we won't have a garden. These rotters will ringbark trees with their antlers.
As for the foxes - they steal chickens. I've had to fox-proof our chookhouse. We have other animals, ones that are meant to be here. But then, people in the town have brought in their own carnivorous pets such as dogs and cats. I had an "animal lover" sent to me one day by the park rangers. They told me he had found a baby possum and it seemed to be in a bad way, almost comatose. When the man arrived he told me his cat had brought the creature in and been playing with it. The man went on and on about how wonderful it was to live near wildlife, and was critical of me when he found that I (at the time) worked in medical research where animals were used. But he owned a cat that he let roam wild! Very irresponsible. But about the "baby possum" - it was very lucky. It also was not a baby possum, but a full-grown, very rare, Pygmy Possum. Absolutely beautiful, and very tiny. I opened the box and it was inside, apparently dead. But I knew these creatures and know that they hibernate every night when they sleep. The cat had been playing with a sleepy Pygmy and had got bored with its lack of response! Lucky little crittur. I quickly made up a sugar solution for it (they are nectar feeders, they have a brush tongue like a lot of honeyeater birds) and let it warm up in the palm of my hand, where it fitted neatly. As it warmed up, it got muscle tone back and its prehensile tail began to grip. Its tiny paws went from white to deep pink and it woke up and began to lap the nectar I had made. When it had had its fill, I handed it to the man and told him to take it back to his place, take it out to the bushland behind and KEEP HIS CAT LOCKED UP while he put the Pygmy Possum back up a tree.
I don't think I got the message to him about his cat, sadly. He moved away a few years later and since then the rangers have reported several local colonies in the vicinity of that man's house, of Pygmy Possums. So some good news - despite the proliferation of cats and dogs, these little darlings are doing well. Maybe it's their habit of hibernation. But not every creature is so lucky.
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