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Killer Cows Supplant Them!‘s Ants as Top Terror of the Animal Kingdom

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A new addition to the list of unlikely menaces from the animal kingdom has emerged. It isn’t enough that Night of the Lepus teaches us to fear giant bunnies, or that the enormous ants of Them! fill us with dread. Now the Centers for Disease Control, giving new meaning to the term “killing fields,” have released a report detailing the murderous habits of… cows. The study of agricultural deaths in four Midwestern states has found sixteen people in the past five years who were “purposefully struck” by the (seemingly) placid beasts. One unfortunate Nebraskan farmer was carrying a syringe full of Micotil (an animal antibiotic) in his pocket; he was lethally injected when a cow pushed him down.

We expect a certain feistiness from bulls, especially when they’re provoked: Witness the near-fatal attack on young Johnny in Song of the South, or the recent fatality during Pamplona’s annual running of the bulls. But could a woman in Missouri, who was attempting to remove the body of a newborn calf from a pasture, have predicted that a cow would knock her over and stomp her to death? She might had she paid closer attention to movies like Alien, where the birth of one species is always accompanied by the death of another.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to the States: Last month in Cardiff, Wales, a woman was trampled to death when her dog ran into a herd of cattle and she attempted to rescue it. According to Police Chief Inspector Alun Morgan, the incident “appears to be a tragic accident.” But only the cows know for sure. And if they’re as organized as the worker ants in Them!, we could be looking at the first stages of a unified march on downtown Los Angeles. But what could have spurred these acts of bovine brutality?

Perhaps cows are feeling the stress of the economy. Like many sectors, the dairy industry is suffering. In an interview on July 24th, third generation farmer Joey Mendoza revealed that he’d been forced by plunging milk prices to sell off some of his herd for slaughter. When farm animals in the movies get wind that they’re about to be dinner, they often choose to make themselves charming and indispensable, like Babe the pig who learns to herd sheep. But plenty of cinema livestock aren’t as clever, as docile, or as benign. Mason Verger’s pigs do not behave in a particularly cuddly fashion in Hannibal — though they do prove first rate at disposing of a body.

I wish I could say that’s the worst of the news, but cows aren’t the only deceptively harmless creatures to suddenly turn on humans these days: In a scenario eerily reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, flocks of fierce “jungle crows” are panicking the citizens of Tokyo, dive-bombing pedestrians who inadvertently get too close to their nests and even clenching their claws and socking people in the head. These crows are jumbo-size — with yard-wide wingspans — and their reign of terror extends mostly to property damage (they rip open fiber-optic cables to steal the stuffing, disrupting the city’s Internet service). But it’s only a matter of time before they open their talons on our soft, fleshy exterior.

For now, it’s only our four-stomached friends who have appetite enough for murder. So next time you encounter a Bessie, don’t let her gentle gaze and docile cud-chewing lull you into lowering your guard. Behind those big brown eyes, cows may have mayhem on their minds.

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