In honor of our new book, "A Stingray Bit My Nipple! True Stories from Real Travelers," we've compiled a slide show of some our favorite outrageous animal-related anecdotes. The full text is below, and the photos are in the slide show.
She's got trunk in the junk
"In the jungles of Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park, my friend and I were invited to bathe with an elephant in the river that flowed directly in front of our guesthouse. The guesthouse owner told me to grab the elephant's ear with my left hand and the other ear with my right hand. Then he smoothed out the elephant's trunk so it curved downward, ending near my feet. 'Step on its trunk and it'll flip you onto its back,' he said. I grasped the animal's rough, hairy ears and placed one trembling foot on its trunk. Next thing I knew, my crotch was smothering the elephant's face! My friends were too busy laughing to offer any help." Anna Wexler, Cambridge, Mass.
Yeah, if Muppets had two-inch claws
"In Panama, while driving from Panama City to the coast, my wife and I crossed paths with a three-toed sloth that decided it needed to cross the road. As we watched it slowly make progress (and that's being generous), we opted to give the Muppet-like creature a hand. After cautiously carrying the sloth across the highway, we said our good-byes and continued our drive looking for wildlife on the Pan-American Highway." Jacob Jones, Poulsbo, Wash.
"So we ate it for lunch"
"On a recent cruise to Grand Cayman, we went to Stingray City. As the stingrays swarmed around us, our guide explained how tame they are and offered to lift one so that we could pet it. We all laughed at the friendly smile of the stingray as we took photographs of it. I suppose it had enough of our attention, or I snapped one too many pictures, because it spit salt water right in my face." Susan Dodder, Hattiesburg, Miss.
For a good time, call Yertle at 555-1321
"Sailing around Panama's San Blas archipelago, I was approached each morning by Kuna Indians in canoes selling lobsters, crabs, and fish. One day they had a 50-pound sea turtle, which they hoped to sell as food. We agreed on a price of $20 and transferred the turtle to my dinghy. When the Kuna were out of sight, I took a Magic Marker and drew a heart on the turtle's back—it was Valentine's Day—along with my name and phone number, and drove it out to the reef and released it." Sam Leming, Indianapolis, Ind.
So the giraffe says, "Wanna neck?"
"The giraffes we encountered at a Kenyan reserve will eat from your hand, but if you put a nugget of food in your mouth, they'll take it from there, too. My grandson Andrew was eager to give it a try—and he got the best kiss of all. French, anyone?" Aileen Saunders, College Place, Wash.
Probably Jovan Musk
"While in South Africa, I went on several game drives, and I think it may have been mating season. Or maybe this one impala was just really lonely. Whatever the case, the animal was quite excited to see Jacob, one of my companions. 'Get it off me!' he yelled. 'Get it off me!' Our group was laughing so hard that we couldn't help him out. Besides, the impala clearly wasn't going to hurt him. It just wanted to love him. So we kept asking, 'What kind of cologne are you wearing, Jacob?'" Sheila Siegel, Belleville, Ill.
"On a cruise from Tahiti, my wife and I opted for a snorkeling excursion. She kept insisting that I allow a man to dangle fish over me to feed the stingrays. I told her no several times before deciding that I should confront my fear. When I got next to the man with the fish, however, a stingray latched onto my nipple, creating an incredibly painful wound. The ship's doctor said he'd never heard of such an incident, adding that the underside of a female ray is white, and maybe when the male saw my belly, he tried to mate with me instead." Richard A. Wood, Las Vegas, Nev.
This little piggy went to the bar
"I recently went to a sailing school in St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with my husband and a friend. One day we went to visit the beer-drinking pigs that we'd seen advertised. We found the bar, but a sign said the pigs were refusing to drink the beer. I persuaded the owners to let me try. I leaned over the pigpen and opened the beer—and a pig got up and grabbed the can out of my hand! It gulped the beer down in a few seconds. I'm not sure who was more entertained, the pig or me!" Shirley Weidenhamer, Venice, Fla.
Who says you have to choose?
"Before I left on a Gate 1 trip to Peru, my friend Janis warned me to be careful around any llamas. 'I've heard they spit on you and it's really nasty,' she said. At a llama farm near Cuzco, I had no trouble with the llamas or the alpacas. A vicuña, however, bit me and tried to give me a good thrashing with his hooves. I believe I'd rather be spit on if I had to choose between the two." Marlene Jackson, Columbus, Ind.
We'll be darned if that camel isn't having a Coke and a smile
"I came across a man with his camel near one of the major tourist sites in Petra, Jordan. He pointed at the soda bottle I was holding, so I gave it to him. He took a drink, then gave the rest to his camel, which held the bottle in its mouth and finished every last drop! I was ready to retrieve a beer from my hotel for the camel's next trick, but the man said that his camel doesn't drink on the job." Adam Tennen, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Score one for the llama
"My fiancée and I enjoy zoos and animal parks. While at a park in Bandon, Ore., I got to spend some one-on-one time with a llama. I was stroking his neck, and he seemed to be enjoying it, when—wham! I was covered from head to waist with the most vile-smelling vomit I've ever known. It was in my hair, on my clothes, even in my mouth and up my nose. As I stood there dumbfounded, wondering what happened, my fiancée was doubled over laughing. She evidently knew that llamas are known to spit—but she failed to clue me in until it was too late. To this day I suffer from llamaphobia." Richard Kyle, Bellevue, Wash.