It’s widely believed that lemmings commit mass suicide by leaping to their deaths from cliffs. In fact, this is a myth brought about by the nature of lemmings’ mass migration and popularized by a Disney movie from the 50s.
Herodotus wrote about fuzzy, dog sized ants living in India which dug up gold to build ant hills. For centuries, people assumed it was made up. In the 1990s, scientist discovered a fuzzy marmot living in India that digs up gold whenever it burrows.
A Japanese zoo unsuccessfully tried to mate a pair of hyenas for four years before realizing both were males.
The Soviet Union attempted to domesticate moose for use in a cavalry.
Reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone changed the entire geography of the park: as elk were displaced, saplings that would have been eaten by elk were spared, riverbank erosion was brought under control, and streams and rivers shifted their courses.
In an experiment where a kitten was raised in the same cage as a rat, the cat not only refrained from attacking the rat, but the two became close companions, and the cat refused to chase or kill any other rats as well.
There was a now extinct species of crocodile that could gallop.
To eliminate all the elusive invasive goats in the Galapagos, researchers attached a radio-collar to a ‘Judas goat’ who would, because of its gregarious nature, seek out other goats. It was then tracked down, the group killed, but with the ‘traitor’ left alive in order to find more goats.
Keiko, the orca who starred in Free Willy was released in the wild in July of 2002 after being in captivity for 23 years. A few weeks after his release, he showed up at a Norwegian fjord in hopes of seeking human contact and would even give children rides on his back.
If you feed a moose, it may become aggressive and attack the next human it meets if it has no food to offer.
A charging elephant broke down the door and a wall of a home in India, but immediately stopped when it heard a baby crying. It then removed the debris from the child using its trunk and peacefully returned to the forest.
When an elderly hiker was pounced on by a mountain lion that began to tear at his arm, a nearby bear rushed over and attacked the lion, driving it away and saving his life.
In 1986, when a five year old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure and lost consciousness, a large male gorilla named Jambo stood between the boy and the other gorillas in a protective gesture, even stroking the boy’s back. The incident helped create a positive public perception of gorillas.