People throughout the history are known to be associated with different species of animals. Say their involvement with the PETA or their support to save tigers in India, or their interest in the habitat of their favorite animals. But unfortunately for many, their meetings with the animal kingdom celebrities did not go so well.
So here is a list of top 20 famous people who were killed in animal attacks. Some of them were famous before they died and some made news after their death.
20. Marty Feldman (1934-1982) – Shellfish
Martin “Marty” Feldman was a well-known English writer, comedian, famous for his bulging eyes, which were the effect of a thyroid problem condition known as Graves Disease. Feldman died from a heart attack as a result of shellfish which caused food poisoning in a hotel room in Mexico City while the filming of the movie Yellowbeard. Famous cartoonist Sergio Aragones was shooting a movie nearby and when he introduced himself Feldman earlier that night, he startled Feldman and said to have induced his heart attack. This story was then adapted into a story in Aragones’ issue of DC Comics’ Solo.
19. Alexander I of Greece (1893-1920) – Monkey
Sir Alexander was known to be a reckless owner of his pets. But the 27 year old monarch actually died after defending his pet dog from an attack while walking through the grounds of the Tatoi estate. A Barbary macaque belonging to the bailiff of the palace’s grapevines attacked the king’s German Shepherd Dog, Fritz, and Alexander attempted to separate the two animals. During this act, another monkey attacked Alexander and bit him deeply on the leg and chest. His wounds were patched for the time being but within days he died of sepsis because of the infection that spread throughout his body.
18. José Gómez Ortega (1895-1920) –Bull
Jose Gomez Ortega, who was known as Joselito, was the youngest bullfighter to receive the title of matador or matador el toro(master of bull killer), at the age of 17. Joselito was fatally speared in the ring at the age of 25 during a competitive bullfight with his brother-in-law in the year 1920. Turned out el toroes el quemata.
17. Samuel Greg (1758-1834) – Stag
Samuel Greg was a British industrialist and a developer of the factory system at Quarry Bank Mill in Wilmslow, Cheshire. In 1832 on the lands of the mill, Greg was attacked by a stag, which led to his early retirement. Greg never totally recovered from the attack and died after two years of the accident.
16. Allen Campbell (1953-1994)-Elephant
Allen Campbell was a Mahout and zookeeper. He was crushed to death in Hawaii by Tyke the elephant, who famously got loose and went on a killing spree. The incident caused many in the public to discontinue the use of elephants in circus acts.
15. Surinder Singh Bajwa (1955-2007) – Monkeys
Surinder Singh Bajwa was the deputy mayor of Delhi. He was in the mayor office less than a year when a large group of Rhesus Macaques monkeys attacked his home and, in the confusion, caused him to fall off a second-floor balcony. Bajwa did not survive the massive head injuries that he suffered. They say pride comes after a fall. So does death.
14. Keltie Bryne (1970-1991)-Orca
Keltie Byrne was a whale trainer. During a show in 1991, she fell into the water where Tilikum, the killer whale she had lovingly trained, dragged her underwater and drowned Byrne. Tilikum was then transferred from Victoria, Cananda to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida where it again killed another trainer, Dawn Brancheau, while spectators vulnerably stared on. In the wild, orcas are believed to never attack humans. I wonder who is training him now.
13. George Went Hensley (1881-1955) – Viper
George Went Hensley was an American Pentecostal minister best known for promoting the practice of snake handling (an uncommon, religious ritual). He took the snake-handling parts of the Bible very literally. He assumed that a true believer who was free of sin would be able to handle venomous snakes without being bit by them. When people were bit and died at his lectures, he claimed it was an “act of God.” On July 24, 1955, Hensley was bit by a five-foot viper while he was trying to put it into a jar; something that was not uncommon for him since he was bitten 400 times! After a few minutes Hensley became visibly ill, suffering severe pain, a bruised arm, and hematemesis. He refused medical treatment and died the next morning. Was it God’s will? You decide.
12. Hannah Twynnoy (1669/70-1703) – Tiger
Hannah Twynnoy was the first person to be killed by a tiger in Britain, in 1703. She worked as a barmaid in the White Lion Pub, which frequently had exotic animals on display. It is said that Twynnoy took liking in teasing a tiger despite its handler’s repetitive warnings. The tiger one day fled its enclosure and ripped her to pieces. Sure the tiger had enough of her.
11. Tom and Eileen Lonergan (1964-1998) – Shark
Tom and Eileen Lonergan were a married couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who had just completed a three year tour of their duty with the Peace Corps. They were stranded on January 25th, 1998 while scuba diving with a group of divers off the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and were never found. The group’s boat from the Outer Edge Dive Company by mistake abandoned Tom and Eileen due to a faulty head count taken by the dive boat crew. The couple was left on their own in those waters having deadly sharks. Although their bodies were never recovered, they likely ultimately died of dehydration, drowning, shark attack, or a combination thereof.
10. Grace Olive Wiley (1883-1948) – Cobra
Grace Olive Wiley was an American herpetologist known for her work with venomous snakes. While she was posing with an Indian cobra for a photographer in 1948, the camera’s flash spooked the snake and it bit Wiley (definitely not in a mood for a selfie). She was taken to the hospital but, unfortunately, the only vial of antivenom which was available for this snake was accidentally broken and she died. Mother of coincidences you say?
9.Taylor Mitchell (1990-2009)- Coyotes
Taylor Mitchell was a Canadian folksinger and songwriter. She received fame with her debut album, For Your Consideration. The death came to her when she was merely 19 years of age. She was on a visit to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park when she was attacked by a number of coyotes there. Mitchell died soon after blood loss. The attack so shocked the coyote experts since the animals were believed to be wary of humans. Mitchell’s case was the first recorded killing of an adult by coyotes.
8. Azaria Chamberlain (11 June -17 August 1980) – Dingo
Azaria Chamberlain was a 2 months old baby girl who made headlines when she was eaten by a dingo (a wild dog found in Australia). Her mother was put on trial and finally imprisoned for murder because there was no evidence that the dingo existed. Evidence later surfaced and Lindy was released from prison. This inspired the 1988 drama movie, A Cry in the Dark in which Meryl Streep played the mother Lindy. Sounds to me like a prequel to Making a Murderer.
7. Patricia Wyman (1972-1996) – Wolves
Patricia Wyman was an animal expert who was hired to take care of the wolves at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve in Ontario, Canada. She was a passionate animal lover, including wolves, and joined in education programs and tours at the park before she was hired. In April of 2006, Wyman decided to go into the wolf enclosure alone without telling any of her supervisors on her third day of employment at the Wolf Centre of the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Preserve.Her body was found that afternoon, but nobody knew exactly what happened or why she was attacked. She was found with her clothing ripped and multiple bite wounds. The coroner ordered to put all the wolves down. Maybe it was twilight then huh?
6. Diane Whipple (1968-2001) – Pit bulls
Diane Whipple was a San Francisco well-known lacrosse player. She made the headlines when she was killed by her neighbour’s pit bulls. Whilst walking home with groceries, she was torn apart by next door’s pit bull terriers that were being trained for an illegal dog-fighting ring, which explains their aggression. Whipple died of massive blood loss. The owner of the dogs, a Marjorie Knoller, was sentenced to prison for 15 years.
5. Kenneth Pinyan (1960-2005) – Stallion
Kenneth Pinyan, known as “Mr. Hands” was involved in receptive anal sex with stallions at a farm near Enumclaw, Washington. During a July 2005 sex act that was being videotaped, he died from a perforated colon. His bizarre story was explored in the indie movie Zoo. Expect anyone to mourn for this guy? Right, didn’t think so.
4. Aeschylus (525BC-455BC) – Turtle
Aeschylus is often known as the father or the founder of tragedy, and is the earliest of the three Greek Tragedians. As legend has it, an eagle, mistook the playwright’s bald crown for a stone and dropped a tortoise on his head (though some claimed that it was a stone dropped by an eagle or a vulture that mistook his bald head for the egg of a flightless bird).
3. Timothy Treadwell (1957-2003) – Bear
Timothy Treadwell, born Timothy Dexter, was an American bear expert, environmentalist, naturalist, and documentary film maker, who lived among the coastal grizzly bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska for approximately 13 seasons. At the end of his thirteenth season in the park in 2003, he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and devoured by one or possibly two grizzly bears. An audio recording of the attack survived. Treadwell’s life, work, and death inspired the 2005 documentary film Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog. Bit of a sticky end.
2. Cleopatra (69 BC – 30 BC) – Asp
Cleopatra ruled ancient Egypt as co-regent for almost three decades. She became the last in a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy. Well-educated and clever and beautiful, Cleopatra could speak various languages and served as the dominant ruler in all three of her co-regencies. According to ancient sources Cleopatra is said to have poisoned herself by inducing an asp to bite her. The oldest source is Strabo, a geographer and historian who was alive at the time of the event, and might even have been in Alexandria. He mentioned that she either applied a toxic ointment, or that she was bitten by an asp. Several poets like Florus and Vellius after many years of the event also mentioned the asp. Some say an asp was concealed in a basket of figs that was brought to her by a bucolic, and found it after eating a few figs, she held out her arm for it to bite. Others say that it was hidden in a pot, and that she poked it with a rod until it got angry enough to bite her on the arm.
1. Steven Irwin (1962-2006) – Stingray
Known as the ‘crocodile hunter’, he was probably the most famous naturalist that we knew. Well, he became more famous after his interest in sea animals led to his death. He was filming a documentary series about dangerous underwater creatures, when he was stabbed in the heart by a stingray. We miss our ‘crikey’host.