Of recent date, I've been fascinated to learn of an island occupied solely by monkeys. I was particularly intrigued since this unique isle is located just a short distance offshore of Beaufort, South Carolina where I reside. Then when my research uncovered that 'Monkey Island’ — as it known by the locals — was an animal laboratory of sorts, images of H. G. Wells' gruesome horror story, The Island of Doctor Moreau filled my thoughts. Under further investigation, I soon learned there was a marked difference between fact and fiction. You can learn more about the outcome of that tale here.
Islands dominated by Animals
So, over time, the idea of animals ruling their own destinies on private islands continued to interest me. What if there were other small enclaves surrounded by water where man was the minority — or better yet just a visitor versus the ruling class?
With a Google search, it didn't take me long to find two islands that were just that. After all, islands are like evolutionary bubbles, where certain ecosystems have proven conducive for one animal life form or another. And when you think about it, it's probably no coincidence Charles Darwin's theories about the evolution of species was first conceived on islands (the exotic and diverse Galapagos, to be specific).
They Breed like Rabbits
"Bunny love" is the name of the game on Okunoshima. This is a Japanese island that was once the site of a chemical weapons' manufacturing plant, but now home to hundreds of fertile rabbits.
Although, how bunnies came to dominate this tiny island is a bit of a mystery? Yes, rabbits were used for chemical weapons' testing on the island during World War II, but those rabbits were probably euthanized after the war. Ellis Krauss, a professor of Japanese politics at the University of California, San Diego, told The Dodo that the current rabbit crop probably descended from pets released by schoolkids and tourists, most likely after the christian holiday of Easter. But that's been a supposition never proven factually.
Nevertheless, the current bunnies survive and thrive on this island because there are no natural predators for them, and rabbits breed like, well… rabbits! As a result, today, there are approximately 700 of these happy hoppers hanging out, according to estimates by the island's tourism sites. Visitors feed them and even leave them bottled water, since the water on the island was contaminated by the munitions factory during the war.
Three Little Pigs became Twenty!
If you see something strange swimming toward you in the waters off Big Major Cay, don't scream "Shark!" It's probably just a pig.
Better known as "Pig Beach," Big Major Cay is a tiny uninhabited spit of sand in the Exuma district of the Bahamas. About 20 pigs live there, swimming out to passing tourists' boats begging for handouts. No one is quite sure how or when these pigs emigrated to the cay. They may be the descendants of escapees from a long-ago shipwreck, or perhaps their ancestors were left by pirates in exchange for a trade deal, back in the day. These days, the pigs should have no worries about becoming bacon. They've definitely become a tourist attraction and are treated well by all they come in contact with.
Must say, animals dominating islands are heart-warming tales. There aren't too many domains left where man hasn't interfered in some fashion with the livelihood of Earth's creatures. Perhaps you know of another island inhabited by a dominant animal species? If so comment below, as I would love to continue researching and uncovering more of these fun 'animals gone wild' real-life legends. Happy island hopping, or hoofing, as the case may be!