Reports of a "half sheep, half human" creature born to an adult sheep in the town of Sokoto, Nigeria, have locals claiming witchcraft or beastiality was at work while more reasonable answers like birth complications have come from officials.
The Daily Sun (via the Huffington Post) reports that the delivery made on Jan. 22 at Fakon Idi Veterinary Clinic drew crowds and shocked onlookers to the point where Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps had to get involved to disperse them:
Garba Aminu, a commercial motorcycle rider, averred: “This is an abomination in our land. To see a sheep give birth to a half human being is a mystery and that shows how terrible some people are. It is unimaginable that some people will be having intercourse with animals.”
Another onlooker, who simply gave his name as Danladi, wondered how such a development could happen in a morally upright state like Sokoto where the Islamic faith is so deep.
But Dr. Ismail Usman with the Veterinary Clinic in the state Ministry of Forestry and Animal Health put rumors to rest, lamenting the fact that such a fantastical idea would even be discussed:
“It was a surprise that people’s perspective could be so negative when it comes to scientific reasoning and thoughts. In fact, the meaning attached to the development on the pregnant sheep by the onlookers was embarrassing.” Dr. Usman stated.
He explained that the sheep was supposed to have been delivered two days earlier but could not, a situation that he described as unusual among animals, especially sheep.
Another expert, Dr. Dahiru Sani who was one of the surgeons that carried out the operation on the controversial sheep said infections such as German measles, excess drugs and radiation could cause such abnormalities in animal pregnancy.
According to him, “every layman would believe that such a picture is a human-like animal, but in science, it is just a condition that caused the incident.”
The Huffington Post points out that people have been quick to jump to conclusions with abnormally shaped animals before. A sheep was born in Turkey in 2010 with human-like features, at least according to one photograph, and there are similar reports from Zimbabwe of a goat in 2009.
Both times these animals were killed by frightened residents. The Daily Telegraph reports that vets in these cases believed the facial abnormalities were from mutations.