Paddles the cat was a Twitter favorite, so her untimely death definitely upset her followers. The polydactyl cat, which had more than the usual number of toes on her paws, gained fame as the First Cat of New Zealand. Her owner, after all, was New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern. Sadly, the famous cat died after being hit by a car.
Image via Twitter/FirstCatofNZ
The 6-year-old chocolate Lab has done more with her short life than most of us do with decades. Callie gained more than 600 flight hours with her owner, Graham Mountford, in the skies. She even has her own crew card and is an honorary member of the Civil Air Patrol! If that's not a major life accomplishment, we don't know what is! Mountford takes Callie with him as he helps to train and acclimate search & rescue dogs to the sights and sounds of a small plane.
Celebrities seem to get away with anything nowadays. Such was the case when actress Jennifer Garner got a pet chicken, put it on a leash and took it for a walk. People went wild for that one. She named the new addition after a beloved character from "Mean Girls" and shared the news on Instagram. Garner captioned the photo: "If there isn't a Chicken Lady Day, there really should be. Man, my life gets more exciting all the time. Meet one of our ladies, Regina George. Regina loves long walks, dehydrated bugs and kale. Regina hates ... carbs."
The world anxiously waited again as Kira the gorilla tried to give birth in June 2017 at the Philadelphia Zoo. The 17-year-old gorilla had an extremely difficult labor, requiring a team of veterinarians to come in and assist. Kira's labor continued for more than a day, very unusual for a gorilla. The team had to use methods normally used for humans in order to help her with the delivery. Their efforts worked! She delivered a healthy baby boy gorilla named Ajabu.
Polar Bear Week has come and gone, but the Columbus Zoo celebrated it in style. Amelia Gray turned 1 this year. The zoo had quite the celebration for her, as well as for two other cubs. They held a birthday celebration and streamed the events live on Facebook for everyone to see. It was the furriest party we've seen. It celebrated the birth of three cubs at a time when polar bears' numbers are dwindling fast.
A golf course in South Africa continues to make headlines for the strange visitors it receives. The Gary Player Country Club is frequently invaded by wildlife because of its proximity to the Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve, which is home to more than 7,000 animals. The golf course has seen mongooses, rhinos and baboons on the green. It's not uncommon for play to be suspended as mongooses make their way across or baboons snatch a golf ball. The players are all fine with it—even acting supportive of the interruptions, as it is a sign of wildlife conservation at work.
The world lost its oldest giant panda this year. Basi was 37 years old when she died, making her the oldest panda in captivity. She died of multiple causes, her old age finally catching up to her at the Straits Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center in Fuzhou, China. "Basi has left, but her beautiful image and Basi spirit will forever be in our hearts," said Chen Yucun, director of the Straits Research Center.
Domino, a rescue dog from Texas, was too eager to get to his new home and jumped ship early. The black-and-white border collie-Labrador mix was on his way to Seattle, where a woman was patiently waiting to adopt him after seeing a post online. However, at a rest stop in Kansas, Domino decided that it was time to go. He escaped from his crate and spent three months loose in the wild. A volunteer searcher continued to look for him and eventually found him. He was covered in cow manure and uninjured. The cow manure is believed to be a result of Domino's efforts to mask his scent from coyotes. His new owner came to get Domino, not wanting to risk another flight again.
In April 2017, 1.25 million people waited with bated breath as they watched the birth of a giraffe calf live online. All eyes were on April the giraffe during her 16-month gestation period at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y. She seamlessly gave birth to her fourth calf, a male; he was later named Tajiri, after a contest open to the public.
Jenny Vidbel gained our admiration when she agreed to take home all of the animal performers from the Big Apple Circus in New York City. When the circus was shut down due to lack of funds, many were fearful about what would happen to the animals. Vidbel stepped up, however, and took them all to her farm in the Catskill Mountains. As a performer herself at the Big Apple Circus, she was already familiar with the animals and had a plan for their semi-retirement. As they lived out their lives at her farm, they became a part of a therapy program for disadvantaged children and older people alike. Instruction in basic grooming and animal care helped to build relationships and interactions between both human and animal. Vidbel's efforts are to be applauded.
Can we go back to school? Specifically, to Public School 75 in Manhattan. The elementary school is part of the Comfort Dog Program, a partnership between select schools and the North Shore Animal League in Long Island. A school staff member adopts a specially screened dog, who is welcome in the school to act as an emotional support dog. There are 10 dogs currently in the program, one of which is used to defuse tantrums. Another is used as an incentive for good behavior. It sounds like a school that would be full of perfectly well-behaved children with an incentive like that.
SeaWorld's last killer whale calf was born this year. The waterpark attraction faced major backlash after the release of a documentary showed the cruel treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld. The company announced that they would stop breeding the whales in captivity. However, Takara was already pregnant at the time of this announcement and gave birth to a calf in April 2017. SeaWorld has also announced that they are phasing out their killer whale performances by 2019 and have committed to continuing to care for the whales for the rest of their lives.
A blind man didn't let the loss of his sight stop him from running when he wanted to. Thomas Panek, CEO and president of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, relied on friends and volunteers to guide him during past races. However, he wanted to try with a guide dog instead. The blind community did not generally train their dogs to run long distances with them while guiding, so Panek decided to take the plunge. Gus, his own yellow Lab, was the first guide dog to be trained. Now, the pair have been the first to complete a New York City marathon together.
A 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Lulu, was found dead in the cargo hold of a United Airlines plane. The plane was delayed on the tarmac for two hours in Houston, where temperatures reached 94 degrees as the plane and its passengers waited. The Rasmussen family were enraged after landing in San Francisco to find that their dog was dead. They believed the delay attributed to Lulu's death and pressured United Airlines to provide answers for the giant public debacle.
United Airlines again made headlines when a giant 10-month-old rabbit was found dead during a flight from London to Chicago. The rabbit in question, Simon, had been examined by a veterinarian mere hours before the flight and was in good health. Simon was a famous Continental Giant rabbit, made so by his father, Darius, who currently holds the Guinness World Record for "longest rabbit." As his offspring, Simon could have grown to a record-setting size as well. Unfortunately, the world will never know.
Pictured: Annette Edwards holding Darius, current record-holder of longest rabbit
A small cat made big waves when he interrupted a live news segment in Hernando, Mississippi. A local news team were attempting to report on a possible sighting of a large cat in the area. However, a house cat decided that the moment had come for his time in the spotlight. The timing could not have been more perfect, creating a viral moment to be shared again and again online.
Image via Twitter/ScottMadaus
Rumor, a German Shepherd, was the lucky winner of the 2017 Westminster Dog Show. The 5-year-old German Shepherd almost didn't even compete this year. After being upset last year by German shorthaired pointer, Rumor's owner, Kent Boyles, almost decided not to compete. Good thing he changed his mind!
A dog in a highchair?! What could be cuter? It is, in fact, a serious issue causes the owners of Tink, a Labrador retriever, to feed her in a highchair. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Tink made headlines because of megaesophagus. It means that whenever she eats or drinks, the food or water doesn't make it to her stomach. Tom Sullivan and his wife got creative. They started feeding her in a highchair, so that she was upright the entire time and so gravity could do the rest. Tink is fed like that four times a day, with a round of burping and throat massage after each feeding session to help her digest her food.
Image via Fox13News
The Kaliningrad Zoo in Konigsberg, Germany, made headlines when a tiger attacked a zookeeper. Nadezhda Srivastava was attacked and mauled when she entered the tiger's enclosure to leave food. Horrified tourists looked on as the tiger bypassed the food and went for the human. They screamed and threw rocks and chairs from a resting area to try and help Srivastava. Their efforts worked, and the tiger was distracted enough for the zookeeper to make it to a safe enclosure. She was in stable condition from her injuries but had to deal with the zoo blaming her for the attack, claiming that she violated safety rules.
A chimera cat caught everyone's eye online this year. Perhaps the most famous of these beautiful cats is Venus, who has almost 2 million followers online. Though Quimera, which is "chimera" in Spanish, is the latest cat to hit the Internet. She could be Venus' twin with her face, except that they are exact opposites when it comes to their coloring. Two sides of the same coin? We think so!
Image via Instagram/gataquimera
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