Mountain Lions Are Terrified by the Voices of Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow
Author: Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post
Nighttime in the Santa Cruz mountains. A mountain lion sprawls on the forest floor, happily noshing on a freshly killed deer. The wind in the trees is the only sound, the moon the only illumination.
Then political commentator Rachel Maddow’s voice fills the clearing: “Last Friday, three days after Bobby Jindal quit …” The lion lifts its head, and its eyes, glowing in the scant light, look right toward a hidden camera. Then the creature turns tail and flees. It’s gone before Maddow even finishes her sentence.
Over the course of several nights, this scene repeated again and again at different locations in the mountains of central California. Unbeknown to the big cats, scientists from the University of California at Santa Cruz had installed motion-sensitive cameras at “kill sites” – spots where the lions stash the carcasses of their prey so they can extend the meal for days.
Whenever one returned to its kill, the camera would switch on and a clip of a political talk-show host would begin streaming from a concealed pair of speakers. The lions were subjected to the strident tones of Maddow, Glenn Beck, Amy Goodman and Rush Limbaugh, as well as the less-upsetting sound of Pacific tree frogs croaking.