Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2013.
“The reality is OR-7 is not likely to find a mate in California. He’ll likely pass on without successfully reproducing.”—Karen Kovacs, California’s fish and wildlife department program manager, on the prospects for the state’s only grey wolf (named OR-7), which travelled 1,600 kilometres from northeast Oregon
ASK THE MONKEY
“A slight monkey on a suborbital flight is nothing to get too excited about.”—George Washington University space-policy professor emeritus John Logsden, on Iran’s successful launch into space, and safe recovery, of an unnamed gray-tufted monkey as part of its push to a manned space flight
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called on Queen Elizabeth to stop supporting pigeon racing after the group claimed that an undercover investigation revealed that up to 75 percent of pigeons disappear during races across the English Channel.
SNIFFING OUT OPPORTUNITY
“If your dog pays an interest in something, you pay an interest in something.”—British beachcomber Ken Wilman, whose dog, Madge, discovered a “horrible” smelling, waxy, hard, lump the size of a soccer ball on a beach in northern England. It turned out to be ambergris, a byproduct of sperm-whale digestion that is prized for use in perfumes, and it brought Wilman a US$64,000 purchase offer
NO FOREST FOR OLD MEN
“There are no wild spaces left for them. There’ll be nothing left at this rate. It’s down to the bone.”—Douglas Cress, the head of a UN-sponsored program that helps the survival of great apes, who coauthored a report that found that all of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan’s natural habitat will be destroyed or disturbed by 2030
FOWLING ITS OWN NEST
“It’s really unprecedented in waterfowl-management history to have a population that’s out of control and can’t be controlled by hunting.”—Canadian Wildlife Service spokesman Jim Leafloor about the formerly endangered—and now superabundant—Ross’s goose, which breeds on Canada’s Arctic coastline and is destroying its habitat by ripping out vegetation while feeding. The service has asked the Nunavut government to expand the hunting season
“If you lived in a pool where people gave you a bath and fed you lettuce by hand and you had no other predators and the water was always a nice warm temperature, you’d be living long too.”—Brynne Anne Besio, executive director of the South Florida Museum, on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity. The average Florida manatee lives to be only 13 due to cold spells and boat propellers
Scientists studying dolphin memory found that one of two dolphins that once lived together in Florida recognized the whistle of the other 20 years later, putting the marine mammals at the top of the animal kingdom when it comes to long-term memory, way ahead of dogs and even elephants.
YOU MAY NOW SNIFF THE ASS
Sri Lankan police apologized after holding an elaborate “wedding”—including decorations, flowers, costumes, and a “honeymoon” vehicle—for nine pairs of drug-detecting dogs that were enlisted in a breeding program.
WHITE MAKES RIGHT
Even though black bears in B.C. are customarily euthanized if they return to a community after being relocated for eating garbage, a bear cub that has a rare recessive gene that causes its fur to be white is being spared the death penalty in Elkford because of its colouring and community interest, according to RCMP sergeant Joe Caravetta.
NAYING THE NEIGH SAYERS
“We are in the biggest, densest urban area in North America. It is not a place for horses. They are not meant to be in traffic jams.”—New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on the metropolis’s famed Central Park horse-drawn carriages, which he has vowed to ban when he assumes office in January
A GOOD FECAL YEAR
“It was sort of like putting the puzzle pieces back together.”—Montana resident Wayne Klinkel after the U.S. Department of Treasury’s mutilated-currency division sent him a $500 cheque to replace a wad of bills eaten by his dog, Sundance, after it sniffed them out in his car. Klinkel followed his dog around for days, collecting his excrement, which he then froze, thawed, washed, and reassembled before sending them to Washington