Eerie Footage of Sheep Walking in Circles Stumps Users


| LAST UPDATE 11/30/2022

By Veronica Anderson
viral sheep circling mystery
Giovanni Mereghetti/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Strange footage has recently emerged from a farm in northern China's inner Mongolia region, leaving users trying to figure out precisely what they were watching: a couple of days ago, a video went viral, capturing a flock of sheep walking continuously in a perfect circle. The crazy part? It lasted for 12 days. At first, scientists were completely baffled by the phenomenon, but recent studies suggest there could be an explanation...

A few days ago, People's Daily in China shared a rather eerie video of hundreds of sheep walking in circles on Twitter. The surveillance footage showed dozens of sheep simultaneously walking in a circle for 12 straight days, begging the question of why. The short clip posted online assured audiences that these sheep were healthy but offered no further information on why these sheep had flocked together in such a movement. However, it was also unclear if the animals stopped to eat or drink while they were circling around.

Sheep Flocking Circle China phenomenon
Fernando Sanchez/Europa Press via Getty Images
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However, scientists have recently examined the situation and suggested a possible explanation for the bizarre behavior that has captivated the attention of people worldwide. According to Matt Bell, a professor in the Department of Agriculture at Hartpury University in Gloucester, England, there is a very natural reason behind these animals' behaviors. "It looks like the sheep are in the pen for long periods, and this might lead to stereotypic behavior, with the repeated circling due to frustration about being in the pen and limited," he said. "Then the other sheep join, as they are flock animals, and bond or join their friends." 

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the social behaviors of the sheep are dominated by the whole flock mentality, which evidently does control the animals' movements that aid them from potential predators by signaling them to flee from danger together as a group. However, some also hypothesize these sheep behaviors could be caused by Listeriosis, a bacterial disease known as the "circling disease." The circling disease can be transmitted through animal feces, food, and soil and usually causes death within 48 hours, which leaves no explanation for how the sheep in China walked in a circular motion for 12 days. So, it seems the mystery continues... Stay tuned.

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