Well, this year has been a bit of a slog, hasn’t it? We’re a politically-divided nation, important issues are being swept under the carpet (thanks Brexit), and climate change is alive and well – just look at the situation in Sydney.
But there are things to be thankful for, too. In times of chaos and unhappiness, it’s always best, I find, to look to our furry (and sometimes not-so-furry) friends who remind us all is not lost. There’s still joy to be found in this world.
Without further ado, here’s the end of year round-up you all deserve – the unmissable animal stories of 2019. Prepare to crack a smile, laugh, and maybe even cry.
1. Rotund rodent comes a cropper.
A curvaceous rat in Bensheim, Germany, made headlines in February after it became stuck in a manhole cover and was photographed looking pretty unhappy about it. Thankfully, there were plenty of people on hand to help – including the local fire department, who lifted up the cover and freed the furry fellow.
2. Four words: dogs in panoramic mode.
In March, a clever person decided to share photos of dogs taken in panoramic mode – and all we have to say on the matter is: thank God they did. (Click the tweet to see a thread of images that will leave you cry-laughing).
3. Fox and dog are truly the cutest companions.
When student Gemma Holdway found a two-day-old fox cub abandoned on her family’s farm, she brought the little one into her home and raised her. Baby Vixey became so attached to Gemma that she ended up becoming a beloved family pet, and is even best friends with Gemma’s Labrador. We cannot handle such levels of cuteness.
4. Seal slaps kayaker in the face with an octopus.
A man got a rude awakening when a seal swam up to his kayak earlier this year and slapped him right across the chops with an octopus – AKA dinner. Thankfully, the GoPro caught the action on camera.
5. Chonky cat, Mr B, breaks hearts and the internet.
A mahoooosive cat with sad eyes discovered levels of viral fame some can only dream of when an animal shelter shared pictures of him, in the hope he’d bag a new home. It turns out people love chonky cats, as the shelter was inundated with 3,000 requests to adopt the massive moggy.
6. Raiders of the not-so-lost sushi stand.
In July, Wellington Police in New Zealand revealed a couple of penguins had been released following temporary detainment. Their crime? Loitering by a sushi stand. Here’s how the series of fishy events went down.
Saturday, 8.40pm. Constable John Zhu was called to retrieve one penguin who was discovered along a residential road. With the help of some members of the public, the penguin was returned to sea.
Sunday, 6.35am. Police received another report of the penguin – this time with an accomplice – near Wellington Railway Station. On arrival they found the penguins nesting underneath a sushi food truck near the station. A local zoo was contacted and, with some inter-agency cooperation, the adventurous pair were released back into the harbour.
7. Kind corgi adopts kitten crew.
When five kittens were left orphaned at just six days old, Dream the corgi began to live up to her name and stepped in to care for them.
After the death of the mum cat, owner Nicky said she went to the vet to get milk replacer and started feeding the kittens herself – but they weren’t going to the toilet afterwards. “Dream was intrigued and watched the whole morning,” Nicky explained. “Then she came over, pushed my arm and put herself between the kitten and me. She started licking the kitten and immediately he weed. I fed them every two hours and Dream was always there to lick them.”
Over time, the kittens began to recognise Dream’s smell and would get excited when she was near. “She would also jump into their bed and lie with them, comforting them if they cried,” said Nicky. “She helped with weaning them and cleaned them just like their mum would have.”
8. Leaping lizards, look at this cat.
Leapfrog the black cat is a little jumpy, to say the least. Every time she crosses the threshold between the kitchen and the rest of the house, she springs over the join in the floor.
Over the course of the year, her owners have put loads of different things in the way to see what else she’d leap across.
9. Alpaca walks into opticians.
Big news broke from the small French town of Hennebont in Brittany in January, after an alpaca walked into an opticians to have a good look at the spectacles on display.
Employee Helene told Le Telegramme newspaper: “We saw him walk past the shop, he stopped in front of the automatic doors that opened, and walked in very quietly. He was not at all aggressive, he was just doing his thing.”
Should’ve gone to Specsavers.
10. Dog learns to ‘speak’, comes out with the most dog-like sentence ever.
Christina Hunger has used her expertise as a speech-language pathologist to teach her dog Stella how to “talk” to humans – and the results are beyond brilliant. The clever pooch now knows how to communicate 29 different words and even some sentences. She does so by pressing on a panel of buttons that are programmed to say individual words or phrases like ‘park’, ‘beach’ or ‘help’.
“She definitely says ‘outside’ the most. She absolutely loves being outside,” Hunger said in an interview with CNN. In one video, when Stella heard noises outside that she was desperate to investigate, she repeatedly pushed the “Look” button, then “come” and “outside” to form the sentence: “Look, look, look, look, look, look, look, look, look! Come outside!” Amazing.
11. RIP Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub.
This year, the world lost two of the internet’s greatest: Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. Grumpy, who was seven years old, passed away on 14 May in the arms of her owner; while Lil Bub died aged eight on 1 December. The pair of unique-looking moggies bought joy to millions of people the world over, becoming the subject of endless memes. We will never forget.
Need more animals in your life? Go back through our weekly 2019 series of ‘Animals of the Week’.