Created By: PapercutChainsaw on October 1, 2011 Last Edited By: PapercutChainsaw on December 22, 2012

Misplaced Wildlife Plot

Animal not being in its correct environment is a plot point

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Occasionally, there are alleged sightings of animals waaay outside their natural environment. A kangaroo in North America, for example, or a big cat in Australia.

These animals, until their existence is confirmed, are often classified as Cryptids. Sometimes, a work may have an episode focussing one one of these, determining a) Whether the animal is real, or if there's an alternative explanation, b) If real, how it came to be in that environment, and c) What can be done about it.

A popular explanation is that they escaped from a zoo or travelling circus sometime in the last century, and set up a breeding population. Alternatively, the entire thing may be a hoax, often set up to cover a murder or other crime.

An alternative approach has the animals being introduced to their new home at the start of the story, with the plot focusing on the (often destructive) effects of the animal in its new ecosystem. This variant is somewhat rare in fiction, although it has happened multiple times in Real Life.

A third variation has the animals' presence not be the main focus of the plot, but once the characters realize that they're not supposed to be there, it serves as a vital clue in a broader mystery.


Examples

Comic Books
  • The very first story of the Silver Age Hawkman has him realize that a bird depicted in a newly created museum diorama is actually from his home planet, and talks to the person who made the diorama to discover where the alien shapeshifter Byth is hiding.

Literature
  • The deceptively cheerful-looking picture book, Cat on the Island, by Gary Crew, is based on the true story of the introduction of domestic cats to a small island in the Pacific, where they quickly wiped out an entire species of ground-dwelling finches.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Caves Of Ice while searching some mines they're guarding (having found out several workers had disappeared recently and seeing an ideal excuse to keep his head down in an environment he loves; tunnels) they find a nest of desert dwelling Ambulls have been feeding on the miners, which (as you would guess from the title) is a little out of place. It turns out that they came through a necron warp portal.
  • Used in an Encyclopedia Brown mystery, where penguins are shown in a display of a North Pole explorer.
  • In the novel Sewer, Gas & Electric, the submarine piloted by the eco-pirates was originally commissioned by Howard Hughes, who'd intended to make use of it in a drug-addled scheme to release kangaroos in the central United States. He'd wanted their presence to be a mystery that would tie up federal resources for years, trying to solve it, but in actuality all the displaced marsupials did was to devour a local pot-farmer's entire crop. This is one of the less bizarre events in the novel.
  • The Diatrymas in the New Forest (first mentioned in Lost in a Good Book) are subsequently mentioned in the sequels. The infamous Goliath Corporation cloned them, officially denied doing so and later officially apologized (wholesale, along with many other things); they go from unsubstantiated rumour to sightings near Salibury, with Stiggins the Neaderthal tracking them down from his cover job at Acme Carpets.
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
    The action of this book takes place in a period of English history that never happened - shortly after the accession to the throne of Good King James III in 1832. At this time, the Channel Tunnel from Dover to Calais having been recently completed, a great many wolves, driven by severe winters, had migrated through the tunnel from Europe and Russia to The British Isles.

Live-Action TV

Western Animation
  • An episode of The Simpsons, "Bart vs. Australia", references the Real Life case of the introduction of the cane toad in Australia.

Real Life
There are 200 million in North America descended from 60 to 100 birds released in Central Park, New York by Eugene Schieffelin. He was president of the infamous American Acclimatization Society which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to North America in 1890, and this turned into a terrible environmental disaster...Starlings are among the worst nuisance species in North America. The birds travel in enormous flocks; pose danger to air travel; disrupt farms; displace native birds; and roost on city blocks. Corrosive droppings on structures cause hundreds of millions of dollars of yearly damage. In 2008 the U.S. government poisoned, shot or trapped 1.7 million, the most of any nuisance species.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • October 1, 2011
    wanderlustwarrior
    If you open this up a bit, there was the real life case of the cane toad, and The Simpsons episode that parodied it, "Bart vs. Australia". In both cases, a natural ecosystem was threatened by the introduction of a foreign species.
  • October 1, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Caves Of Ice while searching some mines they're guarding (having found out several workers had disappeared recently and seeing an ideal excuse to keep his head down in an environment he loves; tunnels) they find a nest of desert dwelling Ambulls have been feeding on the miners, which (as you would guess from the title) is a little out of place. It turns out that they came through a necron warp portal.
  • October 1, 2011
    SKJAM
    • The very first story of the Silver Age Hawkman has him realize that a bird depicted in a museum diorama is actually from his home planet, and talks to the person who made the diorama to discover where the alien shapeshifter Byth is hiding.
  • October 1, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Inverted: Rio Blu was born in the rainforest near Rio, but was taken away when he was a tiny baby and grew up in Minnesota. So returning to Rio had him returning to his native environment, but he was misplaced due to his upbringing.
  • October 1, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^ That's more Fish Out Of Water, or possibly a subtrope. Ooh! New trope idea- No Wildlife Rehabilitation? (In which an animal raised in captivity has trouble surviving in the wild.)
  • October 1, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Used in an Encyclopedia Brown mystery, where penguins are shown in a display of a North Pole explorer.
  • October 2, 2011
    Marr965
    Utterly, utterly spoofed in the Scott Of The Antarctic sketch from Monty Pythons Flying Circus. They have it set in a sandy desert. With a lion. And a penguin. Either, the lion and the sand are out of place, or the penguin and the furs the characters are wrapped up in are.
  • October 2, 2011
    SharleeD
    In the novel Sewer, Gas & Electric, the submarine piloted by the eco-pirates was originally commissioned by Howard Hughes, who'd intended to make use of it in a drug-addled scheme to release kangaroos in the central United States. He'd wanted their presence to be a mystery that would tie up federal resources for years, trying to solve it, but in actuality all the displaced marsupials did was to devour a local pot-farmer's entire crop. This is one of the less bizarre events in the novel.
  • October 2, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: someone once had the bright idea to import some European Starlings into New York City's Central Park because Shakespeare had mentioned them in Henry IV Part 1. Quote from The Other Wiki:
    There are 200 million in North America descended from 60 to 100 birds released in Central Park, New York by Eugene Schieffelin. He was president of the infamous American Acclimatization Society which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to North America in 1890, and this turned into a terrible environmental disaster...Starlings are among the worst nuisance species in North America. The birds travel in enormous flocks; pose danger to air travel; disrupt farms; displace native birds; and roost on city blocks. Corrosive droppings on structures cause hundreds of millions of dollars of yearly damage. In 2008 the U.S. government poisoned, shot or trapped 1.7 million, the most of any nuisance species.
  • October 3, 2011
    SharleeD
    • Several shows on Animal Planet (particularly Animal Cops Miami) have based episodes around the problem of invasive species, and even some whole series like Pig Bomb address the issue.
  • October 3, 2011
    ArtFever
    The polar bear from Lost. I think.
  • October 8, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    The Diatrymas in the New Forest (first mentioned in Lost in a Good Book) are subsequently mentioned in the sequels. The infamous Goliath Corporation cloned them, officially denied doing so and later officially apologized (wholesale, along with many other things); they go from unsubstantiated rumour to sightings near Salibury, with Stiggins the Neaderthal tracking them down from his cover job at Acme Carpets.
  • October 13, 2011
    LOAD
    Bump
  • October 13, 2011
    yogyog
    Real Life:- Wallabies and Yaks have been spotted in the Peak District in England: - http://www.roaches.org.uk/wallabies.htm
  • October 13, 2011
    yogyog
    The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase

    The action of this book takes place in a period of English history that never happened - shortly after the accession to the throne of Good King James III in 1832. At this time, the Channel Tunnel from Dover to Calais having been recently completed, a great many wolves, driven by severe winters, had migrated through the tunnel from Europe and Russia to The British Isles.
    --Joan Aiken
  • October 14, 2011
    SKJAM
    Comics--
    • The very first story of the Silver Age Hawkman has him realize that a bird depicted in a newly created museum diorama is actually from his home planet, and talks to the person who made the diorama to discover where the alien shapeshifter Byth is hiding.
  • January 16, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Unexpected forms of wildlife causing trouble is a common plotline on The Mysteries Of Alfred Hedgehog. Usually it's native species, but occasionally something that clearly doesn't belong in Gnarly Wood (e.g. a tropical chameleon) is to blame.
  • December 22, 2012
    SparkyLurkdragon
    Videogame example:

    • Endless Ocean 2 has an entire subquest revolving around finding and rescuing misplaced marine wildlife.
  • December 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka, which if you look at you'll die.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=anna6d8zwcgplya59d16cjs6