If you wake a sleeping ox by splashing cold water on its face and it gores you in the stomach with its horns, it means you shouldn't do that again.
There are countless ancient omens derived from animals. For example encountering a black cat is widely believed to bring bad luck, as does hearing a bat squeak as it flies by. Other animals are said to bring good luck should you chance up them, including oxen, hedgehogs, bees, crickets, ladybugs,and squirrels.
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Omens and superstitions aside, people have always been fascinated by apparently amazing animal acts. In his book "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women," magic historian Ricky Jay describes a wide variety of animals exhibited over the past 200 years with amazing abilities.
In 1817, for example, a London advertisement touted a flock of sparrows which, "having finished their Education at the University of Oxford" taking over three years of study "are now perfect in the following seven languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish."