Look, we can agree 2016 wasn’t a great year. Was it the “worst year ever”? That has already been written about (ad nauseum), so we’re not going to get into that here. And while no one is advocating for taking even more steps back into the dark ages to start relying on augury and mystical signs, it seems more than a little suspicious that at numerous times this year, the natural world — more specifically, animals — tried to alert us to the awfulness of 2016. And we ignored all the signs. Here are a few of those times when, in retrospect, we should have paid attention to Mother Nature.
When the turkeys turned against us
The apparent wild turkey uprising — marked by an uptick of reported attacks on mail carriers culminating in a chilling 911 call in February — was disconcerting, but not surprising. After all, people eat a lot of their domestic cousins. But in looking back, we realize it was never about omnivorous diets. If we’d only paid closer attention to their frantic gobbles, perhaps we would have heard: “Cancel 2016.”
When an eagle tried to carry off a small boy
With the turkeys’ messaging clearly not getting through, a very different bird took matters into his own talons. Specifically, a golden eagle took a small child into his talons and attempted to carry off the kid during a bird show at an Australian nature park in July.
The boy was a little too heavy for lift-off and sustained only superficial injuries, so we’ll never know the eagle’s true intent. Was the bird, as one witness hypothesized, simply irritated with the boy’s zipper? Was it the start of an attempt to pick off the human race, one by one? Or did the eagle wish to take the boy into his nest, far away from the horrible, horrible year that was still unfolding? If so, we have a message for the eagle: There are still a lot of us down here.
When Larry the lobster died
Larry the lobster was a classic good news, bad news situation.
Good news: In July, people in Florida found a 15-pound lobster that may have been more than 110 years old. What a life this crustacean must have led.
Bad news: Larry was soon slated for the dinner table. No!
Good news: The restaurateur in charge of Larry’s fate had a change of heart, and opted to send the lobster to live out his days in safety and comfort at the Maine State Aquarium.
Bad news: Larry died in transit.
Some might argue that this unfortunate situation was the fault of the people who screwed up when packaging and shipping poor Larry. That might be true. But we’d also like to leave open the possibility that Larry knew the rest of year that was coming, and simply gave up. Rest in peace, Larry.
When a pelican nearly became a literal jailbird
A California pelican bravely practiced civil disobedience, likely in protest of 2016, and all he got was an embarrassing photo and some patronizing headlines.
When a bald eagle survived a deadly hurricane, then got stuck in a car grille.
A bald eagle — you know, the noble, majestic bird that’s supposed to be a symbol for the entire United States — managed to survive the torrential rains and gale-force winds of Hurricane Matthew, only to wind up stuck in car grille in Florida. If this isn’t a solid metaphor for 2016, we don’t know what is. (Emergency workers were able to rescue the bird and transfer it to the care of wildlife rehabilitators.)
When a squirrel refused to stand for anti-squirrel sentiment
In October, Chicago alderman Howard Brookins Jr. publicly ranted about the supposed evils that “aggressive squirrels” were inflicting on the city, mainly complaining that they were destroying garbage cans. But at least one squirrel apparently wasn’t prepared to accept the alderman’s hateful words.
Weeks later, one little gray critter leapt into the path of Brookins’ bike, causing him to flip over the handlebars and wind up in the hospital. We like to think the squirrel wasn’t seeking revenge only on Brookins, but pretty much on all of humanity in general. Of course, since 2016 has no time for underdog heroes, the squirrel died. (In all seriousness, though, we’re glad the alderman is OK.)
When a beaver trashed a store that was selling fake trees
This badass beaver didn’t have any patience for a dollar store’s fake trees, or for this godforsaken hellscape of a year. Never give up your fighting spirit, little dude.