The sheep are reportedly healthy but the reason for their bizarre behavior is yet to be known.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 18, 2022. It has since been updated.
In a rather spooky occurrence, hundreds of sheep have been unsettling people by moving in a circle for the past 14 days in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China. Surveillance footage of the strange activity depicts a sizable flock moving steadily in an almost perfect circle. While some sheep can be observed watching from outside the rotation, others occasionally stop still in the middle. Chinese state-run media source People's Daily tweeted a video of the peculiar incident on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, reporting that the sheep are in fine condition and the reason for their bizarre behavior is yet unknown. The video was captioned, "The great sheep mystery! Hundreds of sheep walk in a circle for over 10 days in N China's Inner Mongolia. The sheep are healthy and the reason for the weird behavior is still a mystery."
The great sheep mystery! Hundreds of sheep walk in a circle for over 10 days in N China's Inner Mongolia. The sheep are healthy and the reason for the weird behavior is still a mystery. pic.twitter.com/8Jg7yOPmGK— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) November 16, 2022
Miao, the sheep owner, in an interview with Metro, said that just a small number of the flock exhibited the bizarre behavior before the whole flock joined. The farm animals did not separate themselves even when wide gaps appeared. Although there are reportedly 34 sheep pens at the location, only the sheep in pen number 13 moved in this manner. The sheep have been moving this way for over 2 weeks now, since starting on November 4. Though the exact cause of the sheep's behavior is unknown, some have hypothesized that it may have been brought on by Listeriosis, a bacterial illness commonly known as "circling disease."
Circling and even paralysis of the affected side are frequent symptoms since the disease inflames one side of the brain. Sheep appear disoriented when infected. Affected animals exhibit anorexia, depression, and confusion, according to Michigan State University. "The onset of the encephalitic form is usually very fast and causes death in 24 to 48 hours after symptoms appear. Symptoms include circling in one direction, high fever, lack of appetite, red tissues around the eyes, usually with blindness, and depression," the university states.
Animals are very sensitive and can tell when a social network is going down long before people can https://t.co/l6a6GxqnDd— Adam Ozimek (@ModeledBehavior) November 18, 2022
Viewers flocked to the original post's comments section to offer their own interpretations of the sheep's ritualistic circling. "The white rhino at the Nairobi national park has also been walking in circles but anticlockwise. A police station in Maragua has witnessed thousands of bats flying above the station for 2 days in a row day and night," user @@DrPeterOkongo commented.
Another user @bitcoin1zation offered a sociology-inspired biological explanation, "That’s because they are sheep, they all follow the one in front of them and once they got into the circle formation they just couldn't stop since there's always one in front of everyone of them." User @JimTomas11 commented, "Sheep behave like this, try to put a small table in front of them, let one sheep jump, and quickly remove the table, hundreds of sheep will jump at the same place."
Many users took to joking about this. User @AddictivePoem commented, saying, "If they are restless, they should count people...." Many users screamed apocalypse, joking about what this means for the world's ending! User @SwingIfYouSwan2 commented, "I remember saying 'there is gonna be an apocalypse when sheep from Mongolia start walking in a circle for 10+ days." User @choptopmoseley commented, "This is the end, my only friend the end."