Last week an eerie video was posted on Twitter showing a huge flock of sheep walking in a circle on a farm in a remote part of Mongolia, a behavior they had been involved in for 12 days straight. Now a scientist is saying he may have an explanation for their bizarre behavior.
Matt Bell, a professor, mentioned that this is a stereotypical behavior for sheep as they might have been in there for a long time. It signifies the act of frustration followed by many, resulting in the never-ending circle movement.
Sheep are known to follow a flock mentality which protects them from predators. It controls instincts in which they flee from danger as a group.
The sheep had been moving in a circle since November 4. It is still being determined whether they stopped to eat or drink.
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
Ms. Maio, who has been identified as the sheep farm owner, claimed that just a few sheep started circling at first. Then the entire flock joined in.
Although there are 34 pens on the farm, only one pen, number 13, exhibited strange behavior.
Some speculated that the circling might have been caused by a bacterial disease called Listeriosis or ‘circling disease’. It can be transmitted through food, feces, or soil. It causes various symptoms, including loss of appetite, fever, partial paralysis, and circling behavior.
However, infected animals typically die after 48 hours, so it would not explain how the sheep continued circling for 12 days.
Moreover, the Chinese state-run outlet that posted the video assured viewers that the animals were healthy.