On Monday, Twitter user @Blizzjuuheardd posted a photo of a creepy terrestrial animal with the caption, "Boy what the fuck is this shit 😭 I’m getting out of Tampa bro."
The post garnered nearly over 40,000 likes in less than 24 hours, and incredulous commenters were quick to come up with their own explanations.
Boy what the fuck is this shit 😭 I’m getting out of tampa bro pic.twitter.com/4LZAh1tqhv— Blizz (@Blizzjuuheardd) March 28, 2022
"A bear with alopecia," wrote one user, whose comment was followed by replies featuring actor Will Smith at the Oscars, a reference to comedian Chris Rock's joke about Smith's wife's medical condition that led to the infamous slap.
baby-eating fame) or perhaps a Mexican hairless dog. Some called the animal a hellish beast or compared it to a cartoon from a Disney movie.
That's donte from Coco pic.twitter.com/5o8QsKmAIB— TeeTee (@I_CanOnlyGoUp_) March 29, 2022
Reached by New Times by phone on Tuesday, Zoo Miami spokesperson Ron Magill identified the creature in the photo as an animal — albeit a very sick one — found in Miami and other parts of Florida.
"That's a coyote with a very severe case of mange," Magill says definitively.
Mange is a skin disease prevalent in canines, caused by mites that get under the animals skin, leading to inflammation and hair loss. Magill says mange is infectious — and extremely uncomfortable.
The Tampa creature, while unfortunately not the Eldritch Abomination that some had hoped, is likely just a sick coyote that poses no risk to humans — nor do its relatives in our neck of the woods.
"Unless it has rabies, it's not gonna attack you. The key thing when you see one is to not turn and run, but to make yourself look as large as possible and it'll run away," Magill advises. "They're pretty widespread but they're very reclusive and want to avoid humans at all costs."
That said, Magill suggests keeping small pets and children away from coyotes if encountered in the wild.
"I would not be shocked if I heard a small child was attacked by a coyote," he says. "But I'd be surprised if it was an adult."