Lemmings' suicide myths started by Disney nature photogs

Lemmings are widely considered to be suicidal beasts, throwing themselves en masse off cliffs. It turns out that this isn't true, but rather a legend begun through some unethical trick photography executed by Disney nature photos in the fifties.

The myth of mass lemming suicide began when the Walt Disney movie, Wild Wilderness was released in 1958. It was filmed in Alberta, Canada, far from the sea and not a native home to lemmings. So the filmmakers imported lemmings, by buying them from Inuit children. The migration sequence was filmed by placing the lemmings on a spinning turntable that was covered with snow, and then shooting it from many different angles. The cliff-death-plunge sequence was done by herding the lemmings over a small cliff into a river. It's easy to understand why the filmmakers did this – wild animals are notoriously uncooperative, and a migration-of-doom followed by a cliff-of-death sequence is far more dramatic to show than the lemmings' self-implemented population-density management plan.

So lemmings do not commit mass suicide. Indeed, animals live to thrive and survive. Consider a company like Disney, where one rodent, namely Mickey Mouse, was Royalty. It's rather odd to think that Disney could be so unkind to another rodent, the lemming..


(via The Disney Blog)