If you happened to tune in for the live stream of April the giraffe earlier this year, you’ll agree that it was beautiful, but it was also kind of gross. If, like many people online, you’d never seen a giraffe give birth, it was a little hard to watch a baby giraffe fall five feet to the ground before the mother giraffe proceeds to urinate all over it, but if you know to expect the blood, and various bodily fluids, then it’s not bad at all. From time to time, however, the miracle of new life happens in front of our very eyes, but when something goes awry, it has the capacity to blow our minds.
That’s what happened in the Chris Hani District Municipality, located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, when the particularly bizarre birth of a lamb caused superstitious villagers to turn on one another, fearing it to be some sort of ungodly sheep-human hybrid. A pregnant sheep gave birth to a deformed, terrifying lamb monstrosity, and agriculture officials have confirmed that the pictures of it are genuine.
When villagers first came across the deformed sheep, which was born dead, some believed it to be the product of bestiality or a sheep being injected with human semen, others believed it to be the product of witchcraft. So frenzied was the reaction around this bizarre sheep that the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development were inspired to send over a team of experts to understand what exactly had been born that day.
Dr Lubabalo Mrwebi is the Chief Director of Eastern Cape’s veterinary services, says that although it might look part human, this dead fetus is nothing but a deformed lamb, and speculated it may have been deformed thanks to an infection known as Rift Valley Fever, a disease usually carried by mosquitoes.
“We would like to confirm that the severely deformed lamb that was born to a sheep in Lady Frere this week. While at a glance it resembles a human form, it is not human but a deformed stillborn lamb sired by a sheep and subsequently infected by a Rift Valley Fever at an early stage of its pregnancy.
It is not uncommon for pregnant animals to be infected by viruses early in their pregnancy. Virus infections in early stages of pregnancy may infect the foetus and lead to the development of malformations in the growing foetus. It is likely that this is what happened to the Lady Frere sheep. We call on the local community not to panic over this deformed lamb. We can confirm that this deformed lamb is not a progeny of sheep ovum and a human sperm.”
Dr Mrwebi deduced that the ewe that mothered this deformed fetus became pregnant around five months ago, when it would have been extremely rainy. This would have allowed for plenty of moisture for mosquitoes to thrive. He also suspected that the foetus’ swollen head may have been down to an abnormal buildup of fluid in the skull. At the moment, scientists are still carrying out tests on this bizarre dead creature.