Asshole alert!

The 7 biggest jerks in the animal kingdom

They mooch, abandon, and kill. But it’s all in the name of survival.

Originally Published: 
Discovery Channel via Giphy

In the wild, it doesn’t often pay to be nice.


Survival is of utmost importance, and wild animals have to look out for themselves and their young first.

But some species have more brash methods of survival than others.

Here are the 7 biggest jerks in the animal kingdom:
7. Jackdaws

Like humans, these birds are known for forming long-term partnerships.


But they’re not always the most emotionally sensitive.


When female jackdaws are in distress, their male partners can sense it. But they often don’t console their partners and focus on protecting themselves instead.


Researchers documented this behavior in a study published Tuesday in Royal Society Open Science.


“The fitness costs of staying in a potentially dangerous location to console the female may outweigh any benefits gained through offering consolation.”

So, the male’s aloof behavior might be a survival tool, despite how insensitive it looks to us humans.

6. Brown bears

Life is scary out there for the mothers and babies.

BBC America via Giphy


Males eager to breed will sometimes kill babies that aren’t their own.

But a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals that mother bears might actually use humans to help protect their young.

Since male bears are afraid of being hunted, female bears will raise their young close to human settlements to ward them off.

It’s a gamble, but some mothers would rather their young be near predators than potential mates.

George Rose/Getty Images News/Getty Images
5. Cowbirds

You might spot these birds in your neighborhood — they live just about everywhere in the U.S.


But here’s something that may come as a surprise: they’re brood parasites.

In lieu of building their own homes, cowbirds lay their eggs in other bird’s nests.

When the hatchlings emerge, they remain in the nest and are fed by their new host parents.



Other birds, like cuckoos, also practice this type of parasitism.

4. Lions

When cubs are born, their mothers are pretty inattentive.

BBC America via Giphy
Mothers feed their babies, but will leave them alone for up to 24 hours.

Mortality rates in the Serengeti are about 86 percent when cubs are below the age of two.

Discover Channel via Giphy


And when males are old enough to fend for themselves, they’re kicked out of the pack and left to become nomads.

In this cat-eat-cat world, only the strongest survive.

3. Pandas

They’re cute, cuddly ... and known for leaving their young to die.


VCG/Visual China Group/Getty Images

In the wild, pandas often have twins.

But they’re known to prioritize the healthier baby, while leaving the other to perish.


It’s likely a strategy for the mother to conserve resources and increase the chances that their young will survive to adulthood.

2. Killer Whales

In 2018, researchers documented the first instance of a group of killer whales murdering a baby in an act of infanticide.

BBC Earth via Giphy


While it might seem brutal, this practice isn’t uncommon among wild animals.

1. Chimps

Our primate cousins sometimes kill their young, as well.

Researchers documented this practice for the first time in 2017.

They witnessed a gruesome event where a male chimp snatched a newborn baby from its mother and ate it in a tree.


This behavior fits into what Darwin first named the sexual selection hypothesis:

Animals will do anything to make sure their genes are passed on, instead of another’s.


Some of these behaviors go far outside what we humans would consider acceptable.

But maybe we’re the weird ones.

Read more stories about animals here.

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