It’s a jungle out there.
Wildlife including lions, crocodiles, bears, wild pigs and rats have taken advantage of quarantines around the world that have kept humans indoors in recent weeks thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. When people finally feel safe to roam outdoors again, it may require a little negotiating.
For New Yorkers, the most immediate threat appears to be desperate rats turning especially aggressive as food supplies, like restaurant trash, become increasingly scarce.
“A restaurant all of a sudden closes now, which has happened by the thousands in not just New York City but coast to coast and around the world, and those rats that were living by that restaurant, some place nearby, and perhaps for decades having generations of rats that depended on that restaurant food,” urban rodent expert Bobby Corrigan told NBC News this week.
According to Corrigan, in order to survive, desperate rats resort to cannibalism, eat their young, and engage in turf wars.
“A new ‘army’ of rats come in, and whichever army has the strongest rats is going to conquer that area,” Corrigan said.
In other words, the postpandemic rats that await the return of urban dwellers will be battle-hardened alphas. New York City, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Baltimore are reportedly among the places where rat wars are most likely.
In South Africa, the King of the Jungle now rules the roads.
A pride of lions traveled from park to park before napping in the middle of a street where they wouldn’t normally be seen. The big cats didn’t seem to have a care in the world Wednesday.
“This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see,” Kruger National Park ranger Richard Sowry tweeted along with a photo. “This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.”
In Israel, while the people are away, the jackals and wild boar will play.
The roughly 100 jackals that occupy Hayarkon Park have started roaming further inland looking for food, according to Tel Aviv veterinary department director Zvi Galin.
Galin warns people against feeding the desperate wild dogs, who may kick their fear of people and get pushy.
Roughly an hour’s drive north of Tel Aviv, wild boars have reportedly been spotted exploring areas of Haifa that are normally occupied by humans.
Reuters described some of the big pigs, who have been making unusual daytime appearances, as being “bulky as Rottweilers and traveling in family packs.”
The emboldened animals are blamed for flipping over garbage bins and frightening locals like music instructor Meirav Litani.
“We are scared to go out, even to throw out the garbage,” Litani said as a bore roamed in the distance. “I don’t which way the boars will come.”
Yaron Hanan, 63, told Reuters he fears that even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, the wild boars will not practicing social distancing from humans.
“The boars will have gotten used to coming every day, every night, every hour,” he said.
Haifa residents have historically enjoyed a mutually respectful relationship with the large swine. The city’s rugby team is named The Wild Boars.
In Mexico, after a while, came the crocodiles.
The large, scaly reptiles have taken over beachfronts in La Ventanilla, Oaxaca.
Several of them were seen walking across a shoreline that would ordinarily be packed with tourists and sunbathing locals.
One croc reportedly had to be chased out of a lagoon adjacent to a beach usually popular with surfers in that same state last month.
The semiaquatic carnivores in the area reportedly reach 15 feet in length.
According to Mexico News Daily, jaguars and leatherback sea turtles have encroached on once touristy areas of Cancún where such animals haven’t been seen in decades.
North of the border in California’s Yosemite National Park, bears have been making themselves especially at home while the tourists are away.
“We’ve been getting a lot of questions, actually, about what are the animals doing since the park has been closed?” a park ranger said during a Facebook Live session. “For the most part, I think they’re having a party.”
The 300 to 500 black bears that live in Yosemite “have been actively lately” according to the park’s Instagram page.
That point was supported by video of a bear roaming about the 1,200 square mile park that was shut down to humans on March 20.
There are no major reports of changes in the behavior of bats worldwide, though they would probably be wise to lay low these days — especially in China.
It’s largely believed that coronavirus, which was first detected in humans in Wuhan, China and has infected more than 2 million people and killed nearly 150,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, may have been transferred from bats to humans.
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