Reality Bites: World's Scariest Animal Attacks

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

"More zookeepers are killed by elephants than any other animal." This little nugget of information offered during World's Scariest Animal Attacks, Animal Planet's latest warning shot of nature coming to murder us all, contains all you need to know about every attack featured in The Episode I Watched, and probably the vast majority, period. That is to say, maybe we should consider trying a little harder to leave most animals alone.

Attacks in zoos? Check. Attacks by non-domesticated animals used for entertainment purposes? Check. Attacks by animals on humans trespassing in their environment? Check. See where I'm going with this?

I'll give Animal Planet credit for one thing: using actual footage. No "dramatic reenactments" here. No indeed, when you see a rogue elephant almost killing a family of five, you know you're looking at the real deal.

Though of course, nobody actually died in any of these. That would have to be a separate show, I imagine, since you're crossing the line from "scary" to "lethal." Could you air it on Animal Planet? Or would you have to create a new network, like "Animal Planet EXTREME," supported by commercials only from Mountain Dew and Axe Body Spray? Does watching animals kill real people qualify as snuff? Maybe I'm thinking about this too much.

Patrick, our first victim, in introduced in sufficiently ominous fashion: "There's no other creature on Earth than inspires terror quite like the great white shark. The safest way to see one up close is from the security of a steel cage." That is, until a 15-footer gets stuck in one and destroys it, while you're inside, which is the chance you taken when you're a self-described "shark enthusiast" Patrick and his dive buddy emerge unscathed, though the same probably can't be said of their wetsuits.

And I'm sorry; some of this is completely hilarious. Like the South African baboons in one of those asinine drive-through wildlife preserves who team up to raid a Dutch couple's car, eat their food, and crap on the seats. They're probably just adhering to the Ape Law about humans driving through their yard. Frankly, the former colonial masters of the country should be happy they got off that easy.

[Slightly] less hilarious is an attack by three chimpanzees who've escaped from their enclosure in a "safari park" in Northern Ireland. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with zoos. I'm immensely grateful my kids can see exotic animals they'd otherwise only know from books and TV, but at the same time I'm not ignorant of the stress of captivity. The Houston Zoo is better than many, and I'm glad that they tend to have a lot of animals that won't be bothered by our shitty climate.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying: whose bright idea was it to keep equatorial apes in Northern Ireland? And in a cement enclosure with tropical plants painted on the walls? Those people should count themselves lucky the chimps didn't find that secret assault rifle stash you know every zoo has.

The theme of "maybe these people shouldn't be messing around with wild animals" continues with Bob, a "gator expert" who suffers a bite on the left bicep from an alligator during one of those shows where the "expert" places his chin on the beast's snout to keep it from clamping its jaws down. To his credit, Bob accepts this is an occupational hazard, leading one to wonder if perhaps an occupation not dealing with prehistoric monsters with teeth as long as your finger might not be in order.

Then there's Joe the lion trainer, whose trained lion sinks his trained fangs into his trainer's leg. Why? Because he had a mouth infection that made him irritable of which Joe was unaware. Who wants to bet Joe's education in lion training didn't involve anything of a veterinary nature?

The trend continues with a circus in Florida, where an Asian elephant - pissed off from some reason at having to ferry snot-nosed kids on her back (also, she's in Florida) - snaps and has to be killed by a cop working security before she can hurt anyone else. If you've read the accounts of how these magnificent animals are treated, well, the cop's remorse makes a lot of sense.

And on and on it goes. A polar bear chomps on a woman who JUMPED TWO FENCES to get a better picture. Don't we have

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