Chances are you’ve probably wasted some time at the office watching these bizarre, adorable, or shocking animal videos at some point this year. Our favorites include a very clever octopus, an orangutan that enjoys a magic trick, and one scary shark. Check them out below.
1. Cats vs cucumbers
The video that made cat owners around the world instantly want to place a vegetable next to their kitty. The compilation of clips shows multiple cats feeding, and then reacting in terror once they turn around and realize a cucumber is right behind them. Some kitties leap acrobatically into the air; others freak out and run for their lives, much to their owners’ amusement.
Why are the unsuspecting cats so startled by cucumbers, of all things? One cat behavior expert told National Geographic that the kitties may think the long, green vegetables are snakes. Cats usually associate feeding with being in a secure, safe area, so turning around and finding an unfamiliar green thing placed right behind them may trigger the cat’s natural wariness against predators, the expert added.
In any case, owners shouldn’t pull this kind of stunt too often, because it could basically turn the poor kitty into a nervous, quivering mess.
2. A whale waves “thank you” at fishermen
Brazilian fisherman found a humpback whale tangled up in a fishing net off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“She had a net wrapped around her body and it seemed like she was asking for somebody to take it off,” one of the fishermen told Brazilian news media outlet O Globo.
After the men cut the whale free, the whale swum alongside the boat and splashed its fin several times, as though saying thank you — or “obrigado” in Portuguese — to its rescuers.
The fishermen even captured an image of the whale seemingly imitating their thumbs-ups.
Every year, humpback whales migrate south to warmer waters in order to breed. The Brazilian coast is one common migration routes towards their breeding spots.
Rescued humpback whales have previously been filmed waving their fins at boaters in Australia and the Sea of Cortez between California and Mexico. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of whales are believed to become entangled in fishing lines every year, although many manage to free themselves. However, scientists have said that about half of the humpback whales based along the US East Coast have become entangled in fishing nets at least once in their lifetimes.
Posted by Cicinho Barbosa on Monday, August 3, 2015
3. A tiger builds a snowman in Russian zoo
It’s not just bored children who find building snowman to be the perfect activity for killing time in winter.
In early 2015, the Kaliningrad Zoo in Russia uploaded a video showing a tiger happily a rolling giant snowball within her enclosure. Zookeepers told Russian media that they previously thought visitors had been throwing snowballs at the tiger, until they saw this footage for themselves.
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Posted by Калининградский Зоопарк – Официальная страница on Thursday, January 22, 2015
“No one thought that the tiger was able to make them by herself,” one zoo official said, adding that usually the animal would make the giant snowballs after dark, but has been known to do so during the day, to the delight of zoo visitors. The tiger will roll up giant balls of snow, then push them from one end of the enclosure to the other in order to keep herself entertained.
Tigers have also been spotted looking adorable while tossing around in snowballs at the Dudley Zoological Gardens in England.
The Kaliningrad Zoo is one of the oldest and biggest zoos in Russia and keeps over 2,000 animals. It has previously received criticism for maintaining its animals in poor conditions, and for failing to teach visitors how to best observe the animals. Last year, one of the zoo’s sharks reportedly had a nervous breakdown because so many visitors rapped on the glass of its aquarium. The zoo has also received some pretty mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, with one user stating bluntly, “Not impressive.”
4. A circus lion feels grass under its paws for the first time
Will the lion spent 13 years in a traveling circus in Brazil, confined to a small cage.
He eventually ended up in animal sanctuary Rancho dos Gnomos based outside of Sao Paulo. The sanctuary has spent about two decades taking care of animals previously victimized by circuses, trafficking, and other cruelties. Some 230 animals are believed to be housed there currently.
The footage was filmed in 2006, but was only released to the public via the sanctuary’s Faceook page in May 2015. Will is seen cavorting in his enclosure, kneading the grass and soil beneath his feet. It’s the first time that Will was able to feel something that wasn’t a cold metal floor, Rancho dos Gnomos wrote in its original Facebook post.
Will is also seen enjoying himself by rubbing his head against a tree and rolling about in the grass, as though the 13-year-old cat had suddenly become a kitten again. He ends up lying peacefully on the grass, his eyes closed and paws up in the air.
Will spent the last five years of his life in Rancho dos Gnomos before he died of natural causes in 2011.
Rancho dos Gnomos is currently campaigning to move to a new, larger facility further outside of the city, in order to have more space to house its animals.
5. An orangutan gets it mind blown by a magic trick
Amateur magician Dan Zaleski wasn’t monkeying around when he filmed this video in the Barcelona zoo and uploaded it to YouTube.
The orangutan is seen watching Zaleski intently while he places a cherry in a plastic cup, then rattles around.
Using a sleight of hand, Zaleski removes the cherry and reveals the empty cup to the ape, who then appears to roll over in laughter.
In a Facebook post which has been shared over 10,000 times, Zaleski called the reaction one of his “favorite moments” from his visit to the zoo.
“I showed him this magic trick a few times and this was his best reaction,” he wrote. “It is crazy how much alike we are.”
Zaleski has asked fans of the video to go one step further and donate to the Orangutan Foundation International, which supports and protests the apes.
6. Baby elephants look adorable during bath time
A Dutch tourist found YouTube fame when he filmed a baby elephant in Thailand enjoying his bath a little too much.
The tourist was volunteering at elephant conservation center ElephantStay just outside of the city of Bangkok. One of his duties apparently included trying to give 6-month-old baby elephant Trouble a good wash.
Trouble is seen flopping around in the tub, having the time of her life, repeatedly attempting to grab the hose with her trunk.
She gets out several times, then changes her mind and clumsily dives back into the tub.
Trouble isn’t the only cutie to frolic during bath time. One-year-old Naveen, who lives in another elephant sanctuary based in Thailand, can be seen trying to cram himself into a tiny tub in this video. He snorts happily, dips his face in, and repeatedly splashes himself with his trunk.
However, by the end, his mom has had enough, and decides to unceremoniously drag the tub of water away.
If that’s not enough baby elephant for you, 2015 also saw the release of this video of another tusked tot enjoying a much muddier bath time in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Africa. At one point, his mom tries to wrap things up by gently nudging the baby elephant out of the water, but it definitely takes a lot of persuasion. The video was reportedly filmed by a safari guide in the park.
Elephants are very strong swimmers, and are known to romp about in the water as a way to cool down. Mud baths serve the same purpose, as elephants cannot cool down by sweating.
7. A octopus chills out in a coconut
This video went viral in June after it was uploaded to YouTube by a French diver. The octopus is seen trudging calmly across the ocean floor, lugging two coconut halves in its tentacles as though carrying a load of groceries. It eventually sets the pieces down, then nestles up inside and stays there, its eyes bulging.
Octopuses are known to use coconut pieces as protective shelters — think of it as a type of body armor. The animals may do so if they are crossing a sector of the ocean floor where there are few other good hiding places.
This type of behavior was first filmed in 2009 by a team of Australian biologists off the Indonesian coast. One scientist told National Geographic that he nearly drowned after observing an octopus carrying around a coconut because he was laughing so hard.
Octopuses are known for their intelligence — they can even open jars and take pictures. However, footage of the octopuses lugging around coconuts made scientists realize that the animals are also capable of using tools, as the shells serve as a type of camouflage. Evidence of octopus intelligence has previously sparked much debate over whether it is ethical to eat the invertebrates.
8. A close encounter with a giant white shark
Researchers off the coast of Mexico were able to record footage of what is reportedly the biggest great white shark ever filmed.
The 20-foot female shark swims close up to the divers’ cage, revealing a sharp set of teeth. On average, most great whites are between 12 to 14 feet.
The female shark in the video is pregnant, which also contributes to her size (along with the fact that female white sharks are typically bigger than males). However, some scientists have claimed the sharks can grow as large as 21 feet long. If you meet one of those, you’ll definitely need a bigger boat.
Some scientists view the shark’s pregnancy as a positive sign, as it means that the animals are breeding and repopulation their traditional hunting grounds along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Over the decades, the population of great whites has dropped sharply in this areea due to overfishing.
The video also shows one diver reaching out and giving the shark what appears to be a high-five, which, according to experts, isn’t as dangerous as it might appear. Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites are actually quite shy. In the footage, the shark clearly isn’t interested in treating the humans as prey, as it glides calmly past the cage.
Nevertheless, as some forms of underwater shark-watching tourism become more popular, experts say it’s important for people to respect the sharks and take few risks when cage-diving.
Mexico’s coast seems to be the place to go, in terms of seeing great whites huge enough to break records. In 2009, researchers captured (and released) an 18-foot male shark, reportedly the largest shark ever to be captured.
9. Imogen the baby koala is introduced to the world
Warning: this video is so cute it may make your teeth hurt.
Imogen the baby koala of Symbio Wildlife Park in Sydney, Australia, had her first photo shoot released to the world via video in November.
The baby does typical baby koala things — scratch herself, nuzzle a eucalyptus leaf, and snuggle up to a stuffed koala. While none of the behavior is out of the ordinary, it is just plain freaking adorable.
Even the term used to refer to baby koalas is too cute for words — they’re called “joeys.”
Imogen is just over a year old. She is being hand-raised by the park curators, as another baby koala in the park, nicknamed Harry, lost his mother to leukemia earlier this year.
Because Harry is younger than Imogen, park curators made a tough decision: they took Imogen away from her mom, as she was strong enough to survive on her own. They then encouraged Imogen’s mom to successfully adopt Harry as a surrogate.
Koalas are notoriously fussy eaters: they only eat eucalyptus leaves, which hardly have any calories, causing the fuzzy bears to spend most of their days asleep. Young baby koalas can’t survive if they don’t have their mom there to help chew up the leaves for them.
Another video shows Imogen looking mind-blowingly cute while nibbling on eucalyptus twigs and sucking from a bottle. However, in true koala fashion, she definitely looks half-asleep most of the time. The park curators get to show off how they have the world’s best job, as they demonstrate how they carry Imogen wrapped in a pouch within their jackets.