A dingo ate my baby!
It’s one of the most famous lines in the history of murders, movies and Seinfeld episodes. Yet the exact quote differs in each. Now it’s time to add a fourth version. A researcher in Australia has captured video proof than dingoes are cannibalistic and will eat the flesh of another dingo even when it’s full or other food isn’t scarce. Missing a dingo? Maybe the dingo ate your dingo!
According to New Scientist, the dingo-eating-dingo video was taken by Paul Meek, an invasive species officer with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. His current project is using video camera traps to monitor pests, of which the dingo is an example, at least to farmers who accuse it of attacking their livestock while ignoring its beneficial eating of rabbits, rats and kangaroos. Oh, and since they also kill those cute little koalas, dingoes are on many hate lists.
Meek says he had killed a dingo in the Strzelecki desert in South Australia using a humane trap utilizing a chewable poison (that doesn’t sound too humane). Since it was late and he probably doesn’t get overtime, he hid the dingo under a shrub and left.
When I returned, it was absolutely decimated – there was just a trail of intestines.
Since dingoes themselves are the only nighttime hunters in this area, Meek followed a hunch and set up video cameras pointed at the trap. On multiple occasions, he captured dingoes eating dead dingoes in the trap (are you sure this is humane?). Not only that, on some occasions he recorded a pack circling a dingo in the trap that was still alive (this is not humane at all).
I can’t categorically say that that is what their intention was, but it certainly appeared as though these animals were summing up whether it was worth taking the risk of taking a dog down.
While dingoes have been suspected of cannibalism, this is the first visible evidence with the added discovery that the practice is not driven by hunger but by opportunity. Meek reported on his findings in The Journal of the Australian Mammal Society and plans to study dingo cannibalism and animal cannibalism in general in the future.
For those not familiar with the dingo’s place in murder and entertainment, “A dingo took my baby” was allegedly shouted in 1980 by Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton when she claimed a dingo ran off with her nine-week-old daughter. She was convicted of murder and imprisoned but the charge was eventually overturned. “A dingo’s got my baby!” was uttered by Meryl Streep playing Chamberlain-Creighton in the movie A Cry in the Dark. And “Maybe the dingo ate your baby” was said in a terrible Australian accent by Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes in the Seinfeld episode “The Stranded” to get a quirky friend to shut up about her “baby” fiancé.
It looks like the dingo is no longer an animal to joke about.