They say that in show business you should never work with children or animals. You never know what they are going to do next. Sometimes, however, you shouldn’t be playing with animals either, especially if you play sports. In a competitive match, even the smallest thing can mean the difference between victory and defeat, which is why most players prefer no interruptions. But like I said, you never know what an animal is going to do next.
Here are ten times animals decided they would get involved in a sporting event with results ranging from the funny to the painful to the tragic.
Related: The 10 Weirdest Feats In Sports
10 bees on the field
In 2019, the African Youth were facing Iringa United at the Uhuru Stadium in Tanzania when their football match was abruptly interrupted in the 53rd minute. Thousands of bees descended on the pitch. Anyone who has ever heard the buzz of an angry hive will understand why the players suddenly dropped to the ground at the unexpected arrival of the visiting team. Several players were stung and part of the crowd fled the stadium to avoid the same fate. Play eventually resumed and the African Youth posted a 4-0 triumph.
Interestingly, this is not the only time that bees have attacked football matches. In 2012, a match had to be abandoned in the UK after the referee suffered a sting and a severe allergic reaction, from which he thankfully recovered. A Brazil match in 2011 had to be stopped for 20 minutes while a swarm of bees was removed from one of the goals.
9 alligators love golf
Golf is essentially a game of hitting small balls long distances with an oddly shaped implement into oddly positioned holes. Its saving grace is that it’s usually played in a beautiful location and makes a great excuse to spend some time outdoors. A small problem arises when you put your golf course in a place that is already home to other animals.
In Florida, alligators can be found wherever there is a suitably sized body of water. What do many golf courses have? Water hazards, though they become even more dangerous when an alligator decides to move in.
Social media is full of surprisingly large alligators roaming the streets and disrupting games. The best advice is to give the animals plenty of space and wait for them to do what they want. In a fight between an alligator and a brat, the reptile will likely emerge victorious.
2 bear wants to play
Many sports teams name themselves after powerful animals like bulls, jaguars, and lions, as if taking the animal’s name would enhance their prowess. However, these animals are generally kept away from sports. Bears, another popular mascot, are a bit more curious and have attended various sporting events.
In the video above, you can see a bear roaming the fence at a baseball game. Many in the crowd were probably considering how flimsy the fence was and whether it could stop a bear as well as a ball.
The bears also have a fondness for golf. In one case in Alaska, a bear wandered onto the putting green as a group of golfers tried to complete their round. He kicked the flag away before sniffing at the players’ golf bags, despite the shouts of the golfers. To the chagrin of the players, he grabbed something and went back into the woods. What a bear does in the woods is his business.
7 dog on the court
A dog is man’s best friend, but it may not always be a footballer’s. There have been several cases of dogs invading fields while a soccer game is being played. In the video above, a stray black dog made its way into a game in Georgia. Seeming to think the players were just having fun, he joined in and spent three minutes running and rolling getting his belly rubbed.
In Bolivia, in 2020, a furry dog entered the field and managed to take a soccer boot to play. The boot was quickly recovered and one of the players had to remove the dog from the game before play could resume.
Just this year, a dog invaded the pitch during an international women’s soccer match between Chile and Venezuela. In this case, the dog was patted and tummy massaged by the goalkeeper and referee before he was led away.
6 kangaroo on the track
Australia is famous for the variety of dangerous animals that infest the continent. Even the cute kangaroo can pose a risk. They have sharp claws, are quite muscular, and can be aggressive. They are particularly dangerous for drivers as they move quickly and cause a severe shock if hit. Which makes it particularly unfortunate that Bathurst racetrack has a bit of a kangaroo problem.
Drivers are aware of the kangaroos, but accidents still happen. In 2004, Jim Richards collided with a speeding kangaroo. The kangaroo was killed instantly and was thrown into the air while Richards’ car sustained extensive damage. For the remaining laps, the other drivers had to dodge the remains of the animal. 
5 Rabbit joins the game
Rabbits are quite fearful animals and therefore don’t usually hang out around people. But there have been cases where, stumbling upon a baseball game, they decided to join in the fun and go for a run. In a game between the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, the rabbit appears to have been living nearby and stopped to run around third base and approached some of the players. When one got in the rabbit’s way, he performed an impressive jump and dodge.
In another example of rabbits wanting to try their hand at baseball, one walked onto the field while the Iowa Cubs and Memphis Redbirds were playing. He resisted all attempts to lure him out and play had to be suspended until he got away.
A very lucky rabbit, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, once made it to a greyhound race. These dogs are trained to run after a mechanical bunny, so when a real one bolted in front of them, they quickly changed course to try and catch it. The rabbit escaped unharmed but was probably quite alarmed.
4 Fox is a repeat thief
It turns out that some animals are hardened criminals who take a little pleasure in stealing. Foxes are well known for their habit of stealing everything from shoes to phones to wallets if they come across them. It should come as no surprise then that a number of golfers have found their balls being nibbled by an inquisitive fox. In several cases, the foxes have walked away with their prize, leaving the golfer feeling emasculated.
At the Canyon River Golf Course in Montana, there was a resident fox who liked nothing more than to lunge and grab a golf ball before taking it with him. One golfer described how funny it was the first time, that it was still a novelty the second time it happened, but in the third act of stealing he found it annoying. Luckily for the fox, most golfers found it lovely to have their own little golf buddy to come out and play. The fox became a kind of mascot for the course.
3 seagull steals ball
The Players Championship is one of the golf tournaments on the PGA Tour. Usually, the most that players have to worry about at Players is that a member of the crowd will do something a little rude and yell in mid-swing to postpone the game. However, in 1998 Brad Fabel faced a more direct act of sabotage.
He had just hit the 17th green when a seagull lurking nearby decided to investigate. After a bit of pecking and kicking, the bird managed to pick up the ball and fly away. Unfortunately for the seagull, he lost his grip on the golf ball and dropped it into the water.
Fabel was allowed to place a new ball on the spot where it had landed without penalty. However, perhaps the bird had gotten into his head: he ended up taking a bogey in the hole.
2 Invasion of pine martens
The European marten is a creature a bit like a ferret and can grow to over 1.5 feet (half a meter) in length. As far as we know, they are not usually soccer fans and in one case we can definitely say that they are not soccer fans.
In 2013, FC Zurich was playing against FC Thun when a marten ran onto the pitch. Martens are fast and agile, but one of the players was faster. Loris Benito, one of Zurich’s defenders, performed a masterful dive and managed to grab the invader by the neck. This turned out to be a mistake as martens have sharp teeth and are not afraid to use them. Benito was bitten on the finger and the marten escaped.
It had to be the goalkeeper of the Zurich team with his thick gloves to finally, and safely, capture the animal and remove it from the pitch.
1 bird meets baseball
A baseball can go up to 100 miles per hour (161 km/h) when thrown. If this hits a player, it can cause a painful injury and broken bones. So just imagine the damage a ball moving at that speed would do to a smaller animal. A bird does not have to imagine.
In 2001, Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson threw the ball with no expectation that anything would happen between the time he released it and the time he hit the bat. Seemingly out of nowhere, a cloud of feathers exploded before his eyes. The ball hit and completely destroyed a bird that just happened to fly to exactly the wrong place at the exact wrong time. After consulting the regulations, it was decided that the pitch could be redone.
The bird was not the last to die in this way. In one week in 2023, two birds were struck in two separate Major League Baseball games. Maybe they should find another sport to watch.
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