Fur, feathers and scales: offbeat animal stories of 2008
AFP - Monday, December 29
PARIS (AFP) - - A selection of unusual animal goings on in 2008:
- A polar bear called Debby, said to be the world's oldest, died 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 mistook an Australian yacht for its mother, and tried to suckle on it. It had to be put out of its misery to end its suffering.
- Two giant pandas - Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan - made their long-anticipated, groundbreaking trip from China to Taiwan, in the latest sign of fast thawing ties between the two former bitter rivals.
- An elephant kicked its heroin habit after a three-year stint at an island rehab centre 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.
- An Egyptian donkey was locked up for stealing corn on the cob from a field belonging to an agricultural research institute in the Nile Delta.
- A small kangaroo boxed its way out of its enclosure in a German town and fled, with emergency workers in hot pursuit. Firefighters were finally able to net the 70-centimetre (28-inch) tall wallaby unharmed.
- Snuppy, the first cloned dog, became a father after the world's first successful breeding involving only cloned canines.
- Thousands of pets were 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, was caught on film by surveillance videos, an association that installed the cameras said.
- Bosnian police impounded 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 young British woman expressed surprise after finding a live baby bat in her bra. Abbie Hawkins, 19, harboured 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 ordered that a chicken be locked up in a soundproof box every night so its neighbours can get a good night's sleep.
- A dog was 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.
- A lucky Australian cat used up one of its lives when it survived a 34-storey plunge from an apartment building window. Voodoo's fall was apparently broken by some well-placed bushes.
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