Wild goats are well known for their climbing abilities but in northern Italy, Alpine ibex are leaving the competition behind.
High up in the mountains sits a man-made dam and at more than 100ft (30m) it is taller than a block of flats. But on its near vertical walls up to 20 ibex can be found walking and occasionally licking the masonry.
Even more surprisingly, those animals that take part in the death-defying stunt are always mothers and their young, with larger males nowhere to be seen.
“They’re famous for being really good climbers but that’s something else, that is really extraordinary,” says zoologist Lucy Cooke, presenter of a new BBC programme Animals Unexpected, which features the madcap ibex.
The bare walls of the Cingno dam, a hydroelectric power plant, have few footholds but they pose little challenge to the ibex’s split hooves.
Ibex seem to go to such lengths simply to compensate for their salt-deficient vegetarian diets, as the concrete provides them with an unconventional salt lick.
“That 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,” explains Ms Cooke.
So far no one has reported an ibex falling off.
In New York, US, a large predator has gone one further than the ibex, not just taking advantage of built structures but actually using human actions to evolve.
The coywolf, also known as the eastern coyote, is a wolf-coyote hybrid – smaller than a wolf, but larger than the closely-related coyote, as Ms Cooke shows in the clip above.
It came about after hundreds of years of hunting in the US brought the eastern wolf population to its knees, allowing the western coyote to expand its range north where the two species eventually met, and then bred.
Today, coywolves have set up home in the urban parks of the Bronx, feeding on the rats and other rodents they find there and using the wooded areas for shelter during the day.
Dr Mark Weckel has been studying them and filmed them at night when they are most likely to break cover, a clever tactic which has probably helped them thrive in the big city.
“Intelligence is learning to live with us and avoid us at the same time. These are the ones active at night, these are the ones that if they have to go out beyond the park, are doing so when the streets are deserted,” Dr Weckel says.
You can see more animals that have turned up in the most astonishing places on Animals Unexpected on Sunday 14th June at 17:35 BST on BBC One.
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