Three Escaped Water Buffalo Lead Police On a Chase Through North Carolina Streets

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: August 28, 2023
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This video is a perfect illustration of why it is illegal to own a water buffalo in North Carolina. Even though it looks amusing to see these huge animals so out of place on inner city streets, the incident ended in death. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control (ACC) officers were able to recapture two of the animals but the third became too aggressive for them to handle. Sadly, it had to be put down. As the clip at the bottom of the page shows, wild animals in the wrong place at the wrong time present a danger to themselves and everybody around them.

What Actually Are Water Buffalo?

The scientific name for water buffalo is Bubalus bubalis and they are also sometimes called Asian water buffalo or arni. Experts suspect that they were originally a native species of India but they have been heavily domesticated and are now found in Africa, Eurasia, Oceania, and North America. They are a large member of the Bovidae family and are related to other wild cattle.

Water buffalo can weigh up to 2000 pounds and their shoulder height can exceed six feet. They have distinctive humped backs and curved horns. As domesticated mammals, they are used for milk and meat but are also used to pull farm implements, etc. This has earned them the title ‘living tractors of the East’. They do not have much hair but have a long tail that is bushy at the tip. Because they have been overused for milk production and ritual hunting, they are now an endangered species.

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Water buffalo with calf gazing in the paddy field in Manipur, India

Water buffalo were once a native species of India but are now heavily domesticated.

©Worchi Zingkhai/

Are Water Buffalo Dangerous?

Water buffaloes are not suitable as pets. There have been reports of experienced farmers being killed by water buffalo in the UK. Individual animals that have not shown previous signs of aggression are still potentially dangerous.

Water buffaloes are accustomed to humans – they have been domesticated for thousands of years. Even so, any animal as large as they are with sharp horns is potentially a threat to human safety.

They are herbivores and therefore will not target humans to try to eat them. However, they live in herds and can run at up to 30 mph so it is easy to see how a human could get trampled and seriously hurt.

Animals will often behave unpredictably and more aggressively when they are in unfamiliar surroundings. The water buffalo in this clip would have been very stressed by the traffic and movement on a busy street. Therefore, it is understandable that they became aggressive and difficult to handle.

Watch the Incredible Footage Below

The photo featured at the top of this post is © meunierd/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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