2017 - Animals in the city

Animals in the city

Small animals like birds, squirrels, mice and insects are
a common sight in many cities and towns. But in recent
years, the world' s press has been full of reports of wild
animals coming into cities in bigger and bigger numbers.
There have been bears in Vancouver parks, leopards on
the streets of Mumbai and wild pigs in gardens in Berlin.
What happens when bigger animals come into our cities?
Are they welcome or are they considered a danger or a

Often wild animals come into cities to look for food. In Cape Town, South Africa, baboons1
have started to come into housing areas on the edge of the city to get food. They open
rubbish bins and eat fruit from gardens and orchards. Some brave baboons have even come
into people' s houses and taken food from kitchen cupboards and fridges. Baboons can be
aggressive and have attacked a lot of pets, so understandably, many city residents do not
welcome their presence. But the city can be a dangerous place for baboons, too. Some have
been injured or killed in car accidents and others have been electrocuted
2 while playing
with electric cables. 

Baboons are an endangered species3 and to save them and minimise conflicts between
humans and baboons, the city council has employed a team of Baboon Monitors. The moni-
tors' job is to chase baboons out of housing areas or catch them and release them in the
countryside. This has had some success, though it is proving hard to stop baboons from
coming back to the city once they see it as a source of easy food. 


One of the most interesting cases of wild animals living in a city are the wild dogs of Mos-
cow. In Moscow, there are about 35,000 wild dogs living on the streets. Some of the dogs
were born wild, while others are pets that have been left behind by their owners. Some dogs
live alone whereas others live in groups that stay together. In 2010, scientists studied the
dogs and found out that they have adapted remarkably successfully to city life. The dogs
have learned that crossing the streets with people is less dangerous for them and some dogs
seem to understand traffic lights. 

Some dogs have even learned to use the city's metro system to get from one territory to
another. Scientists are not sure how the dogs know when to get off the trains. Some think
that they use their excellent sense of smell and have learned to recognise their favourite
destinations. Others believe that they have learned to recognise the names of stations they
hear in announcements. Either way, metro passengers have now got so used to the sight of
dogs on the trains that these animals travel largely unnoticed. 

Some animals, like the dogs in Moscow, have adapted very well to city life. For others, the
city is a dangerous place and it is difficult for animals to live in harmony with humans. It
would be a shame to hurt or kill animals when they come into cities to look for food. Hope-
fully, city councils and city residents can work together and find ways to keep dangerous
wild animals out of cities without harming them.       
                                                                                                                  (540 words)
Adapted from: Robin Newton: Animals in the city, http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/study-break/easy-
reading/animals-city-level-3 (11.01.2016)
1 baboon - Pavian (Affenart)
2 electrocuted - durch einen Stromschlag verletzt
3 endangered species - bedrohte Tierart