From the tragic story of Knut, Berlin’s ill-fated star polar bear, to the uplifting story of Yvonne, the Cool Hand Luke of cows, 2011 was a year where animal stories practically dominated the news. More or less.
1) RIP Knut – a feelgood mascot for the German capital, or just another exploited zoo animal?
Knut the polar bear, who became a global media sensation as a cub after being rejected by his mother and reared by hand, died suddenly for unexplained reasons on Saturday, the Berlin Zoo said.
2) RIP Heidi – Not quite as big a star as Knut, not quite as good at predicting football scores as Paul the Octopus, but you still had something special about you, or something commercially viable about you, anyway.
Heidi, a cross-eyed opossum who became an internet and real-life sensation in Germany, winning three times more Facebook admirers than Chancellor Angela Merkel, died on Wednesday, Leipzig Zoo said.
3) Yvonne the cow – a bovine freedom fighter for the new decade. Possibly the year’s most moooving story.
Animal rights activists are racing to try to find an escaped cow before hunters do – after Bavarian authorities issued an order to get her dead or alive.
4) Animals have sexual fetishes too, it seems.
A persistently perky penguin in Konstanz who fell in love with his keeper’s black and white boots has been forced to turn to his own kind for amorous attention after his keeper started wearing blue shoes.
5) Everyone’s nightmare: You’re settling down with the newspaper, when a reptilian visitor comes to visit. And he ain’t using the front door.
A seven-year-old girl was shocked to find a sizeable boa constrictor staring up at her from the toilet over the weekend, police in Hannover said. The “fugitive” reptile escaped before authorities could capture it.