On the otherwise unremarkable Cingino Dam in the midst of Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park, visitors can see a number of hopping, moving specks that are actually goats climbing along the impossibly small brick outcroppings in the dam wall.
The Alpine ibexes that are native to the cliffs in the park have taken to scaling the nearly vertical dam in recent months thanks to a successful repopulation effort which has seen their numbers and range grow. While no one is certain why they would attempt so dangerous a climb, the dexterous goats have been seen licking the bricks of the structure and gnawing on the lichen growing in the cracks of the brick so it is likely that the animals are seeking sustenance, although hanging precariously on the surface of a dam is also an effective defense against predators. Despite the vertigo-inducing heights and seeming lack of viable footholds, the feat of climbing is not as much of a problem thanks to the beasts’ large inner ears and rubbery hooves. Some of the goats have been known to fall to their deaths, but those that make their way onto the Cingino Dam are likely much safer than those left on the open plain.