Footage Shows Sheep Mysteriously Walking Around in Circles Non-Stop for Twelve Days
Bizarre video footage captured on a Chinese farm shows a group of sheep walking in circles for almost two weeks without stopping. The strange behavior has observers—and the sheep's owner—utterly perplexed as they try to determine what's behind it. The footage was taken earlier this month in northern China.
A closed-circuit camera on a local farm caught hundreds of sheep walking in a clockwise motion inside their pen. Not all of the animals joined in at first, watching the action from the center of the flock before falling in line with the rest of the herd. Why might these sheep be plodding along without rest? Do other animals circle? Read on to find out more. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
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Only One Group on Farm Affected
In the video—taken at a farm in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, on Nov. 4—the sheep are seen walking around and around inside their pen. Some stood in the middle of the circle before deciding to join in; others stayed in the eye of the sheep hurricane, standing stock-still.
The Daily Mail reports that the owner of the sheep, a woman named Ms. Miao, was "left dumbfounded" by the sheep's behavior. Of the 34 sheep pens at her farm, only one—number 13—was caught up in the strange display. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
Possible Explanation: A Brain Condition
Chinese state-run outlet People's Daily reported that the sheep are healthy, and the cause of the behavior is unclear. The sheep have reportedly been at it since Nov. 4. It's unclear whether they've stopped to eat or drink.
Some have speculated that the sheep's behavior might be due to an inflammatory brain condition known as listeriosis. It's caused by infection by a bacterium that can be found in food sources, the soil, or manure and has been known to cause circling in sheep and goats.
What Is Listeriosis?
According to Michigan State University, the symptoms of listeriosis can include depression, loss of appetite, lack of coordination, and circling. Affected animals are not likely to recover, even with aggressive antibiotic treatment. The university notes, "the onset of the encephalitic form is usually very fast and causes death in 24 to 48 hours after symptoms appear." The Chinese sheep have been circling for more than two weeks.
Social Media Reacts
Commenters on social media were perplexed. "Maybe they are in migration mode but they couldn't because they are in a cage?" suggested Twitter user @jarafpv. "Sheep follow each other (like sheep lmao) so they think the one ahead knows where to go but they're all kinda stuck?" wondered @FlyingShibaArt.
"They ate some mushrooms in the field," suggested @JellyIntoAJam.
Other were philosophical. "At least 97% of humans have been walking around in circles for their whole lives. Most are healthy and the reason for this weird behavior is still a mystery," said @arafdotat.
Other Animals Circle
Other animals have been seen engaging in circling behavior. In 2021, a study published in the journal Cell Press observed that a variety of marine animals had been observed swimming in circles, including whales, sharks, penguins, and sea turtles. The researchers speculated the animals may be attempting to locate the earth's magnetic field so they can navigate.
The great sheep mystery! Hundreds of sheep walk in a circle for over 10 days in N China's Inner Mongolia. The sheep are healthy and the reason for the weird behavior is still a mystery. pic.twitter.com/8Jg7yOPmGK
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) November 16, 2022