Wikipedia: Down the Rabbit Hole


As a writer and researcher at Beutler Ink, I spend a lot of time clicking myself down into article rabbit holes on Wikipedia. Most of the time, I write articles for politicians and corporations, but you can't always predict what relevant information will link to another article. One article links to yet another, and pretty soon you've traveled from Sarah Palin to the Gombe Chimpanzee War. Seriously. That was a thing. Here are some of the weird things I've picked up on my solo missions through Wikipedia:

The Gombe Chimpanzee War

In 1974, famed ape-lady Jane Goodall observed that the chimpanzees living in a national park in Tanzania had organized themselves into conflicting factions. She recorded the chimps' separation into northern and southern sub-groups, and took notes on their guerilla (ha, gotcha) military tactics. Using digital data analysis, it was later argued that what Goodall called the Gombe Chimpanzee war had been going on as early as 1971. Goodall's familiarity with the Chimp War began when she observed six adult males from what she called the Kasakela group team up to kill a young male chimp from the other warring faction: the Kahamas.

Fact: Although Lost became wildly popular with critics and fans, the pilot episode was the most expensive pilot ever filmed at the time, demanding $10 to $14 million of ABC. As a result, ABC network president Lloyd Braun was fired by Walt Disney Studios for greenlighting the project.

The Reichstag Dome

German parliament meets in the Reichstag building, under a glass dome which allows German citizens and tourists to walk over it using one of two steel ramps. This set-up is meant to remind German parliament that the people of Germany are above them, since this element of German culture was forgotten during the rise of Socialism.

Fact: Before its discontinuation in 2010, a soft drink company in Singapore offered soda in two advertised flavors, "Anything" and "Whatever". Anyone who bought a soda would have ended up with one of the following actual flavors: apple, cola, lemon cola, something called "cloudy lemon," another weird one just called "fizz up" or root beer.

Keiko the needy orca

Keiko, the star of Free Willy who wasn't Michael Madsen, was released into the wild in 1998 following filming. His release was wildly controversial, and experts attempted to predict whether he would fit in with other wild orcas after living in captivity for so long. In 2002, Keiko departed into Icelandic waters with several new wild whale friends, but he showed up three weeks later in Norway, where he was found allowing Norwegian children to ride around on his back.


In 1986, a five year old boy named Levan Merritt fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Jersey Zoo. One of the gorillas, named Jambo, placed himself between the unconscious Levan and the other gorillas in the enclosure. When the other gorillas retreated, Jambo stroked the boy's back until he regained consciousness.

In 1996, a three year old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure (seriously? where are the parents on these zoo trips?) at the Brookfield Zoo outside of Chicago. Binti Jua, already a mother to a tiny gorilla, protected the terrified boy, holding him and growling at any other gorillas who attempted to approach. She consoled the boy until authorities were able to retrieve him, and her own baby gorilla clutched onto her back the whole time.

Wikipedia hosts a boundless number of surprising facts, and contrary to what I've included in this blog post, most of them don't involve monkeys. Researching for Beutler is my dream job; one of the central perks is spending a good deal of my day devoted to learning. Because I'm a professional Wiki nerd, I know that a typical horse's horsepower is 33,000 ft-lb per minute and that the average color of the known universe is technically called "cosmic latte." I've read about the raining animals phenomenon, and I know how to protect myself from developing alien hand syndrome. Most importantly, I know why I keep watching James Franco movies, even though he's done a lot of creepy or eye-roll-worthy things in the media.

Whether you want to know why Centralia, Pennsylvania has been on fire since 1962, or find out more about the porn park called Love Land in South Korea, Wikipedia is the place for you. Conclusion: Humansareweird, man.

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