flock of sheep
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
December 28, 2023 ·  2 min read

A Flock Of Sheep Has Been Walking In A Circle For 12 Days, And Nobody Knows Exactly Why: ‘Weird’

The last 12 days have seen a flock of sheep wandering in a circle in Mongolia. People’s Daily, a state-run news site in China, recently tweeted security footage of the phenomenon- 10 days into the motion. The publication called it the “great sheep mystery”, and then stated that the reason for this “weird behavior is still a mystery.”[1]

The clip posted on their Twitter, showed hundreds of sheep moving around a single spot on a farm together- but the sheep around them didn’t seem to mind. Metro reported that Ms. Miao, the sheep owner, further claimed that a few sheep had already started before the entire flock joined in. Interestingly, the owner only had 34 sheep pens, but only 13 had been behaving in this peculiar manner. 

A Flock Of Sheep Have Been Moving In Circles For The Last 12 Days- What Could Be The Reason?

The behavior of this flock of sheep led to several jokes on Twitter, with one user tweeting, “When you realize it’s a summoning circle for the mega sheep.” Another user added, “What if there’s a Mr. Beast sheep and he told them ‘the last one to leave the circle wins 10 bags of grain.’” The running theory could be listeriosis- which is a bacterial disease.

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The condition, according to sources, can lead to circling simply because it inflames and can also lead to paralysis of one side of the brain. Now, if the sheep are in fact infected with this disease, which is also associated with spoilt silage, this particular behavior will not look out of place- except for just a single factor. According to information provided by The Merck Manual, listeriosis usually results in death within 24 to 48 hours of the symptoms appearing. This has not been the case here. [2]

Another explanation behind the weird movement of this flock of sheep has been provided by Matt Bell, the director of the Department of Agriculture at Hartpury University, in Gloucester, England. Speaking to Newsweek, the Professor stated, “It looks like the sheep are in the pen for long periods, and this might lead to stereotypic behavior, with the repeated circling due to frustration about being in the pen and limited. This is not good. Then the other sheep join as they are flock animals and bond or join their friends.” The flock of sheep had been displaying this peculiar behavior since the 4th of November and had been moving for at least 12 days. It also seems unclear if they stopped to eat at intervals or if the sheep are still going through the motions as of November 21. [3]

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  1. A FLOCK OF SHEEP HAS BEEN WALKING IN A CIRCLE FOR 12 DAYS, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY.” In the Know. Emerald Pellot. November 21, 2022.
  2. Mystery of Sheep Walking in Circle in China for 12 Days Potentially Solved.” News Week. Robyn White. November 21, 2022
  3. Mystery of sheep walking in circle for 12 days may be solved.” NY Post. Snejana Farberov. November 21, 2022