By Mordechai Schmutter

As a member of the media, I feel it is my job to periodically remind you to be very afraid of something, in case you forget. This time, it’s animals showing up in unexpected places.

This is a real issue. A lot of people are terrified of animals showing up in unexpected places, especially those of us who, if we see a dog on the way to shul, will elect to daven in an entirely different shul.

But it keeps happening. Take the story of a live 2-foot leopard shark that supposedly fell from the sky and was found at the 12th hole of a golf course in California last year. Now what most of us would have done, if we were the ones to find this shark, is shriek and whack at it with our golf clubs. Or jump into a golf cart and roar away at 3 miles per hour, in case it suddenly grew legs, or another one fell from the sky right next to it. That’s not far-fetched. A couple of years ago there was an incident in which hundreds of small fish rained down from the sky over the Australian city of Lajamanu, which the residents thought was strange, because, quote, “We’re 326 miles from the nearest river.”

Yeah, that’s right. It’s the distance that’s strange.

But getting back to the shark, someone grabbed it, loaded it into the back of his golf cart, and brought it back to the ocean, which, in this case, was only four miles away, so it wasn’t so strange.

But how did it get there? According to the article I read, the California Department of Fish and Game pointed out that there is actually a black market for pet sharks (“The cops are at the door! Hide the shark!” “Where?” “I don’t know! Try the washing machine!”) and that it may have gotten dumped there after getting too big for someone’s tank. But then why did he dump it on a golf course? Did he go to the course, play 11 holes, and then dump it?

So the prevailing theory is that a bird dropped it, though I don’t want to meet the kind of bird that can lift a 2-foot shark out of the ocean, carry it four miles, and then drop it and not even notice. It got home, and was like, “Oh. Wasn’t I carrying more sharks than this? What happened to all the others?”

But I do know that I’m going to start walking around with an umbrella all the time.

Especially since that’s not the only story of animals raining down from the sky. A couple of years ago, a deer caused a power outage in Montana by somehow getting stuck in the overhead electrical wires. And in the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway, New Jersey, there were two incidents of a flying squirrel floating around the emergency room. I’ve never seen a flying squirrel in person, but I’m pretty sure that if I did see one, I would recheck myself into the hospital.

Of course, sometimes animals end up in the wrong places because of people. Some years ago in India, a man was caught attempting to board a flight at New Delhi International Airport with a monkey in his pants. Because experts agree that the best place to smuggle monkeys is in your pants. (I can’t even fly with shampoo.)

Meanwhile, a man in Mexico was arrested for attempting to smuggle 18 tiny monkeys that he’d put into socks that fit into his girdle. (“You think your flight was bad? I was in a sock inside a guy’s girdle with 17 other monkeys!”) In that case, police caught him because they said he was “behaving nervously” when being questioned at customs. This is not surprising, considering how many monkeys he had moving around in his clothes. They also caught a man in India with ten turtles in his long johns. Even I don’t believe I’m not making the stories up at this point.

And in 2002, a man was flying into California from Thailand with pygmy monkeys in his pants, when officials opened his suitcase and a bird of paradise flew out. The thing is flying around the terminal, over the passengers’ heads, with officials chasing it, and the guy can’t even help them because of the monkeys.

“Do you have anything else to tell us?” the officials asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I have monkeys in my pants.”

I’m just saying that we might complain about airport security and all the pat-downs (CRUNCH. “What was that?”), but if not for them, flying would be even more nerve-racking, because you don’t know. The person right next to you could have a zoo in his pants.

And the animal-smuggling doesn’t end there. (Why would it?) In 2009, German officials seized a Swiss spider-smuggler on the German border with 164 large spiders and 45 boxes of cockroaches in his pants.

No, I’m just kidding. They were in boxes in his car. The spiders were the size of a fist, and the roaches were mostly there as food for the spiders.

So the cops freaked out and started hitting them with golf clubs.

No, I’m sure they called the proper experts. But they did point out that the same man had been stopped in 2007 trying to smuggle in 1,000 spiders with the help of a German accomplice. (That must be one close accomplice.) Apparently, this guy really wants to take over Germany with spiders.

Also in 2007, a man in Johannesburg was pulled over for driving his Fiat with two cows and two goats squeezed inside. Why on earth would someone stick four livestock into a Fiat? The car was barely large enough for four people. I don’t even think it had four doors. I think he had to lean forward to let them climb in.

Apparently this is illegal, though I don’t know why you’d punish him. Isn’t driving a tiny car with two cows and two goats punishment enough?

And then there’s the woman in New Jersey who, according to an Associated Press article, keeps 75 live tortoises in her fridge. This is apparently legal, but it made the news anyway, because most of us don’t do this. How would we get our Shabbos leftovers in there?

According to the woman, tortoises need the cold to hibernate, so she puts them in there, next to her food, and they go to sleep.

That’s as good a dieting incentive as anything else. Don’t want your husband in the fridge in the middle of the night? Fill it with turtles! Or maybe a flying squirrel!

So animals are turning up all over the place. Even the military is getting in on the action. I have here an article titled, “Navy Bombs Guam with Dead Frozen Mice.”

So first of all, that’s a great idea. I can think of plenty of countries that we might want to bomb with dead frozen mice.

But this was not an act of war. We did this to benefit Guam. Apparently, they had a problem with angry snakes eating certain species to extinction. So the idea was to take dead, frozen mice, stuff them with Tylenol, and drop them over the forests of Guam. Because I know that when I’m angry, sometimes Tylenol helps.

Basically, they discovered that Tylenol kills snakes. But how do you get snakes to take Tylenol? Mush it up in orange juice? So they hid it in the mice.

The next step was figuring out how to drop the mice. You can’t have frozen mice hurtling out of an airplane at 1,000 miles an hour, with your only hope of killing the snakes being if you hit one squarely on the head. So they made tiny parachutes and hang gliders and glued them to the mice. How fun is that? Next they’ll be dropping them over hospitals. (There’s an idea for Obamacare.)

But maybe all these other animals in weird places can be attributed to the military as well. We’ve all heard about the army using dolphins and dogs. We’ve also mentioned Iran sending monkeys up into space, and the question has always been why? Don’t they just get in the way on the space stations?

So I think everyone is trying to use animals in warfare now. The navy is bombing countries with rodents, and the Iranians want to bomb us with monkeys, stuffed with bananas. And other countries are trying to get in on the action, using fish, sharks, squirrels, deer, spiders, and farm animals. That’s why everyone’s secretly moving them around and dropping them all over the place. They’ll hit us in our airports. They’ll hit us on our golf courses. They’ll hit us on our way to shul.

That dog is still there. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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