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The Local's top animal stories of the year

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The Local's top animal stories of the year
Schildi the bionic tortoise. Photo: DPA
08:30 CET+01:00
Furry, feathered, scaled, and even shell-dwelling animals have provided entertainment, concern and in some cases, irritation in Germany this year.

Badger digs up medieval warrior graves

Badgers in Brandenburg led a voluntary monument maintenance man to a stunning find of medieval warrior graves, with one skeleton still clutching a sword and wearing a snake-shaped buckle on his belt. Suggestions that the badgers may have been playing war games with the swords before archaeologists sealed off the site could not be substantiated.

Wolf-hit shepherds call for sheepdog subsidies

Environmentalists have been happily watching wolves reclaiming their ancient territories across rural areas of Germany, but shepherds have been significantly less enthusiastic, blaming a number of sheep deaths on the lupus. Many are arming themselves with Pyrenean mountain dogs - and now calling for financial help. Do you know how much a Pyrenean dog can eat in a day? A lot, that's how much.

Berlin's city bear dies in compound

Also furry, but far less cheerful than sheep-patrolling dogs, one of Berlin's two city bears died in August aged 27. Maxi and her companion Schnute have been held in a small compound in the centre of the city for years. Berlin's mascot is a bear and the compound has housed bears since 1939 as symbolic guardians of the city. Schnute will be the last one.

Group guinea pig sex 'too loud' say neighbours

A far more cheerful story was delivered by a free-love rodent commune at a German university - cheerful that is unless you live next door and want to sleep. Münster University's biology department has 13 very vocal male and female guinea pigs in a large outdoor cage. A sign states "These animals live in non-committal, mixed-gender groups and mate with every possible partner." This has been confirmed by furious neighbours who complained to the local authorities about the noise.

Justin Bieber's monkey becomes German

Mally the little capuchin monkey who arrived in Munich in March courtesy of pop star Justin Bieber, became the property of Germany in May and has been found a home and a monkey family in Lower Saxony. Bieber and his management failed to produce the paperwork necessary to bring a monkey into the country, even after the young animal was confiscated. Bieber lost his monkey, Mally found a future.

Seal escapes, hangs out with swans

A young seal became a special attraction at Karlsruhe zoo, after escaping from her enclosure and hanging out in the swan pond, with new friends.

Gardeners said they had seen two-year-old Zola sleeping in a boat on the pond, but that visitors keen to catch a glimpse of her had been left disappointed as she was mostly hanging out in a half-hidden area with the swans.

Magdeburg waterworks keeps crocodile mascot

Local legend Theophila is a Nile crocodile which was given to the Magdeburg city waterworks by the Malian town of Kayes nearly 40 years ago as a thank you for building its sewerage plant. Then the crocodile was just 22 centimetres long, but it is now thought to weight 280 kilos and has become a testament to the care taken with the local water supply.

Stork lays siege to village with car attacks

A stork caused thousands of euros worth of damage with an aggressive identity crisis - attacking parked cars and pecking at windows. We saw the bird hacking away at our family car," Kerstin Werth from the town of Bergholz in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania said. "After we scared it away there it was, going at our neighbour's car."

Sperm whales adopt kinky dolphin

German scientists saw and filmed a group of sperm whales who seemed to have adopted a deformed dolphin. The dolphin, an adult bottlenose with a deformed spine which gave it a twisted physique, was displaying trusting, intimate behaviour with the sperm whales and their calves, the researchers said. They filmed the rare example of interspecies cooperation in the Atlantic ocean near the Azores.

Bionic tortoise on a roll with Lego wheel

Schildi was our favourite animal of 2013. He lost a leg in a mysterious accident, but was luckily taken to an inventive veterinary surgery where Dr Panagiotis Azmanis fitted him with a Lego wheel. Schildi's life was turned around. "If he gets a 'flat tyre' it will be a simple matter to replace the wheel. They move around quite a lot so I'd expect to see him for a new wheel about once a year," said Azmanis, making him our favourite vet of the year.

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