There’s a simple riddle gripping the nation, leaving many stumped on how to reach the correct answer.

Riddles are infuriating. For those who miss the simple tricks utilised in riddles, they can feel like a Sisyphean task. 

Now, the simple riddle of ‘how many animals are going towards the river’ has caught the attention of Britons stuck indoors during quarantine. Many are stumped on how to reach the answer. 

If you don’t want to know the answer, be cautious while scrolling… we’ve explained how to reach it!

What is the riddle?

Many who have come across the riddle have been split over whether it is a maths or English riddle. It uses language and basic addition to trick its listener. 

The riddle is as follows:

One rabbit saw six elephants while going to the river.

Every elephant saw two monkeys going towards the river.

Every monkey holds one parrot in their hands.

How many animals are going towards the river?

Opinion: How many animals are going towards the river?

  • The most popular answer is: There are five animals going towards the river. 

Unfortunately, this is one of the most infuriating riddles around as there is no official answer given with various answers up for discussion based on the grammar used. However, many came up with the answer 31, but this definitely not correct. Here’s how the riddle works and where you may have gone wrong.

– One rabbit saw six elephants while going to the river. 

This means there is definitely one rabbit going to the river. The sentence does not state that the elephants are going to the river as well. This is where the trick lies. 

– Every elephant saw two monkeys going towards the river. 

Again, this is the trick. It does not state that every elephant saw two different monkeys, and so implicit rules apply and infer that the two monkeys seen by the elephants are the same

– Every monkey holds one parrot in their hands. 

Now we know there are just two monkeys, there must be two parrots.  And so, one rabbit, two monkeys, two parrots leads us to the answer of five animals. 

The sentences that are up for debate

The issue with the riddle surrounds some of the sentencing, leading some to believe it is actually a language riddle, rather than a mathematical one. 

Many have pointed out that there is a difference between to and towards. To means direction and towards means destination. The rabbit is never going towards the river like the monkeys and parrots, the rabbit is only going in the direction of the river. 

Secondly, the most common way to decipher the riddle has lead us to assume that there are only two monkeys, as the elephants all saw the same pair of monkeys, but this is not 100% confirmed either. There are many numerous combinations of numbers, as the six elephants could have seen different combinations of monkeys. 

Finally, the parrot line has been up for debate, as the statement could imply that both monkeys are holding the same parrot. 

Essentially, this riddle is far from simplistic, and will have the masses attempting to find the correct answer for the foreseeable future!


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