- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Not long after the bear went window-shopping in Newton, word came from Anchorage, Alaska about the disquieting behavior of a bull moose at the local airport. It seems this moose was lounging around the terminal building while a Boeing 720 jet was being readied for its flight. The moose was causing no trouble, just watching takeoffs and landings, until the passengers boarded the plane and it started to taxi out to the end of the runway. At this point the moose ran toward the jet and butted it between the No. 1 and No. 2 engines. "The bull moose lowered his head, pawed the ground and charged," wrote a newspaperman in some excitement. The plane was shaken but undamaged. "The moose, apparently unhurt and unimpressed," the newspaper account went on, "walked away." What was surprising about this incident, however, was that officials seemed nettled to discover there were no Civil Aeronautics Board regulations governing the procedure for planes attacked by moose. Even more disturbing were the last words casually appended to the newspaper report of the incident.
"Moose have been known to charge parked cars and light planes," it read, "but not a jet." What has been going on here? Has it taken an all-out attack on a jetliner to bring into the open a grave situation affecting parked cars and light planes?
Obviously, people have been reluctant to call attention to such moose assaults from a sort of misplaced politeness, a form of embarrassment. It is more difficult for modern man to say, "Isn't that a moose charging our station wagon?" than it was for his ancestors to hunt them. In the Boston suburb of Norwood, for instance, nobody paid any attention when a 450-pound black bear climbed out of a truck on Route 1 and stretched its legs. The truck driver had pulled off the road and stepped into a diner for a cup of coffee. When the bear came out of the truck, people probably thought it wanted a cup of coffee, too. They may not have known it was a bear. They may have thought it was a wrestler. In fact, the bear was a wrestler. It was named Black Ozzie, and for the past year it had been wrestling regularly in Boston. The Boston wrestling promoter, Tony Santos, had sold the bear to a Columbia, S.C. entrepreneur for $3,000, and Black Ozzie was scheduled to make a television appearance in Columbia two nights later.
Consternation followed when the driver told police that Black Ozzie had walked out on him. Radio alerts cautioned children to keep away from the scene, vicious BEAR LOOSE HERE, ran a headline across the front page of the Boston Record American. Extra police cars cruised the area. After six hours of panic, the bear was seen walking along Route 1, heading south (in other words, in the direction of Columbia). It was brought back to the truck, where Mr. Santos gave it some lumps of sugar, which it probably was seeking for its coffee in the first place.
Even famed international correspondents have taken note of the efforts of animals to gain a bit of recognition in modern society. Drew Middleton in a special dispatch reported that a panther had been captured in an exclusive girls' school near Paris. "The panther roamed the streets and back alleys of St. Denis," Mr. Middleton wrote, "terrifying the inhabitants.... Policemen, firemen and trainers from the circus assembled. A crowd of about 2,000 gathered. A workman trod on the animal as it lurked in the hall of his apartment house, and was bitten on the arm and shoulder." Even when attending girls' schools, panthers do not like to be stepped on.
Raccoon aids golfer, says an animal news dispatch of a different type, this one from Onarga, Ill. It seems that a man named Bill Taylor was playing on the Spring Creek course with two friends. On the last hole his putt rolled up within three inches of the cup and stopped. A raccoon ran out of the woods and nudged the ball into the cup, enabling Mr. Taylor to have a par round. Skeptics might question this—remember, Mrs. Wanamaker did not believe there was a bear in her backyard—but it turned out that there was. a. prankish golf-playing raccoon haunting the Spring Creek course. It was a pet belonging to a family that lived near by, and it often went around the course generously pushing golf balls into holes.
In this past month Harvey J. Proulx, a golfing doctor from Lewiston, Me., received an equally unusual assist. Playing the Cobbosseecontee Colony course, he hit a ball into the woods, where he found it clamped in the jaws of a squirrel. Squirrel and doctor began a chase through the trees, with the squirrel finally abandoning the ball behind a large rock. Suspicious, the doctor moved the rock and was amazed to see 135 other golf balls that had been squirreled away throughout the summer.
One theory to account for all this misplaced animal behavior is that animals are a little confused as to how to act around people. When an animal saw a bearded figure wearing buckskins approaching with a rifle, the animal logically assumed that the man was not taking a census of wildlife in the area. The man was going to kill something, a simple purpose the animal could understand, since it was usually trying to kill something on its own. So it ran, or hid, or, if all else seemed likely to fail, it launched an attack.
But now—in an age when conservationists are doing such things as attaching transmitters to foxes in order to find out where they spend their leisure hours—animals cannot figure out what people are up to. It is even being said that wild animals, far from regarding man as a natural enemy, actually are beginning to like people and enjoy being around them. Books like Born Free, dealing with a peaceful lioness, and Ring of Bright Water, about the companionship provided by otters, not to speak of books about scientists who converse with good-natured porpoises, have marked a change in the literary attitude toward beasts. Only a few years ago a naturalist like Ernest Thompson Seton was ridiculed as a romantic because he attributed so-called human emotions—love, self-sacrifice, family loyalty, courage—to wild creatures in their relations with others of their species; and he was ridiculed even more because he sometimes wrote about wild animals aiding or befriending man.
But now scientists have gone far beyond Seton. That a porpoise will swim alongside to keep an unconscious swimmer above water is only one of the many reported instances of the goodness and intelligence of our wild cousins. In fact, we seem to have completed a cycle in this respect. Animals are now often said to possess what were once thought of as solely human emotions. Human psychology, on the other hand, has come to be interpreted in terms of brute urges and unconscious strivings. It may be, of course, that both animals and people have changed. Noting how well cats, dogs and horses have gotten along with mankind, other more aggressive species may have decided to cultivate good relations in the hope of not becoming extinct—if they're trying to exterminate you, join them.