Locals in South Africa were shocked and horrified when a deformed lamb was born bearing an appearance similar to that of an imaginary half-man, half-sheep. The photos, which were taken at Lady Frere, 200 miles south of Bloemfontein, went viral on African social media and even made its way to conspiracy sites overseas. One villager, quoted by the British tabloid The Sun, described the village’s reaction: “The elders when they saw it said it was sent by the devil and was born after a coupling between a man and a sheep and then there was panic. Many people are afraid and will not be happy until it is burned.”
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) June 21, 2017
South Africa’s Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform confirmed that the pictures are authentic, but the province’s chief director of veterinary services, Dr. Lubabalo Mrwebi, expressed his theory that the fetus was infected with Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne illness, that caused the stillborn to come out deformed. “We can confirm that this deformed lamb is not a progeny of sheep ovum and a human sperm,” Mrwebi had to clarify to the locals in an official statement, also noting that sheep ovum and human sperm are unable to coexist due to mismatched chromosome counts. The government is expected to get the lamb to veterinary officials so that a final autopsy can be made public to Cape Frere residents. Mrwebi also urged local farmers to get their livestock treated with the Rift Valley fever vaccine well before mating season so that other livestock births are protected.
Before Mrwebi’s official statement, the Internet went wild with the rumors of bestiality hybrids. And this is not the first time such hoaxes have been advertised, as Snopes, a popular fact-checking site, say they have had to debunk rumors of human-dog, human-gorilla, and human-goat hybrids in the past, usually stemming from deformed births.