The Great Sheep Panic of 1888

Sheep are notoriously timid and nervous animal, and can get startled easily. But what mysterious provocation could have caused thousands of sheep to lose their mind at once has baffled scientists for years.

The first widely recorded sheep panic occurred on the night of November 3, 1888, in Oxfordshire. Around eight o’clock, tens of thousands of sheep across an area of about 200 square miles, around the town of Reading, impulsively and simultaneously went berserk. They broke through their pens and dwellings and bolted out into the open fields, destroying property and overrunning fences as they did so. The next morning they were found widely scattered, some miles from their fields. Some of them still panting with terror under hedges, and many crowded into corners of fields.

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Great Sheep Panic of 1888

Illustration by Nuvolanevicata |


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