Hungry animals—humans included—will go a long way for a tasty treat, but perhaps none as far as the brave, high-climbing Alpine ibex.
In recent years, these wild goats have garnered some well-deserved attention for scaling the walls of the 160-foot-tall Cingino Dam in Antrona Valley Natural Park, Italy, all for a lick of the structure's rocks and stones. The bricks contain mineral salts and the ibex, with their vegetarian diets, are willing to scurry along sheer, vertical walls to get at them.
Andrea Battisti captured the footage above last year, and while it's somewhat anxiety-inducing for those with acrophobia, the Capra ibex is actually quite well-suited for this extreme food foraging. The animal has a climbing body, with short legs, a low center of gravity, strong muscles, and split hooves with sharp sides and and soft, concave undersides that help them grip.
Zoologist Lucy Cooke told the BBC that the effort “... makes total sense because all animals crave salt, without it your nerves and muscles just don’t function properly and it’s especially important for mums when they’re feeding their young, so maybe that’s why you only see females and their kids on this dam.”
For more footage of the gravity-defying Alpine Ibex, check out this video from National Geographic.
Banner image: Andrea Battisti, YouTube