Fur, feathers and scales: offbeat animal antics in 2008

1st January 2009, Comments 0 comments

A cloned dog, an elephant on heroin and a lost baby whale made headlines last year.

Paris - A selection of unusual animal goings on in 2008:

- A polar bear called Debby, said to be the world's oldest, dies at age 42 after thrilling millions of visitors to a Canadian zoo. She had been orphaned as a cub in the Russian north, and raised in captivity.

- A lost baby whale mistakes an Australian yacht for its mother, and tries to suckle on it. It has to be put out of its misery to end its suffering.

- An elephant kicks its heroin habit after a three-year stint at an island rehab center in southern China. The four-year-old Asian elephant, called Xiguang, had become hooked on the narcotic after animal smugglers captured his group by luring them with bananas laced with heroin.

- Rebels and the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have blighted the Nord Kivu province with months of fighting, cut a deal to allow armed park rangers back into the famed Virunga reserve to care for its long-neglected gorillas.

- In the US state of Arizona a woman jogger runs for a mile with a rabid fox clamped to her arm. On arriving at her car she manages to lock the animal in the trunk, and race to a hospital for treatment.

- An Egyptian donkey is locked up for stealing corn on the cob from a field belonging to an agricultural research institute in the Nile Delta.

- A small kangaroo boxes its way out of its enclosure in a German town and flees, with emergency workers in hot pursuit. Firefighters are finally able to net the 70-centimetre (28-inch) tall wallaby unharmed.

- Snuppy, the first cloned dog, becomes a father after the world's first successful breeding involving only cloned canines.

- Thousands of pets are evacuated from New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Gustav in a bid to avoid the mass heartache of Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of animals -- along with hundreds of humans -- died.

- Sweden's own version of the Loch Ness monster, the Storsjoe or Great Lake monster, is been caught on film by surveillance videos, an association that installed the cameras says.

- Bosnian police impound a pigeon after finding that prisoners used it to smuggle drugs into one of the country's highest security jails.

- A rare 111-year-old New Zealand reptile, Henry the tuatara, a lizard-like creature with links to the age of the dinosaurs, is to become a father for the first time in at least 38 years after regaining an interest in sex.

- A British homeowner decides to reward his family's pet parrot after it saved them from a fire by frantically squawking.

- A young British woman expresses surprise after finding a live baby bat in her bra. Abbie Hawkins, 19, harbored the creature in her bosom for over four hours and had felt a slight twitching but thought it was her mobile phone vibrating.

- A Swiss court orders that a chicken be locked up in a soundproof box every night so its neighbors can get a good night's sleep.

- A stray parrot is reunited with its owner in Japan after repeating his name and address at the local veterinary clinic that took it in.

- A dog is admitted to a veterinary clinic in Austria barely able to stand on his own four paws and reeking of booze. The hungry pooch had stolen and devoured half a kilogram (a pound) of fresh yeast dough -- which had fermented inside his stomach.

- Emergency surgery saved an Australian python that swallowed four golf balls after mistaking them for chicken eggs.


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