British Columbia

A crow, a cub, a rescue cat and more: the best of B.C. animal stories in 2016

Every year critters captivate online clickers. It's all that furry, feathered, big-eyed cuteness that plugs into our human wiring.

'A cop chased it for about 15 to 20 feet, and then the crow dropped [the knife] and took off'

BenBen has been dubbed by many as the saddest cat on the internet. (@benbencatcat/Instagram)

Every year critters captivate online clickers. They can't help it. It's all that furry, feathered, big-eyed cuteness that plugs into our human wiring.

This year a menagerie of animals hit the news, from a bootie-clad rooster to the saddest cat on the internet.

Ameowzing greatness

While Adele's adoring fans clamoured for tickets to her sold-out summer Vancouver shows the diva dropped in at the West Pender Street Catfe, where felines were nonplussed at the popstar's petting.

The Catfe tweeted that Adele was the one who was star struck by Larry the cat at Vancouver's cat cafe. (Catfe/Twitter)

By year end, cat lovers were taken by BenBen, dubbed the saddest cat on the internet after images of the rescued cat surfaced when he was found with a crushed spine.

Veteranary technician Sandy Windover helped restore the cat to health and dubbed him BenBen "after Benjamin Buttons because he's like Benjamin Button, an old cat's walk in a young kitten's body." 

The wonky-gated orange tabby stole the hearts of anybody who stared into his naturally sad-looking eyes.

BenBen employs his adorable eyes for more attention. (BenBencatcat/Instagram)

The marmalade mascot may look sad, but Windover says he's now a playful, happy kitten, oblivious to his fame.

Pilfered pooches

Coco the toy poodle made headlines after somebody stole the four-year-old fluff ball from a shopping cart as her owners was loading groceries in the car.

Perhaps they thought she was a stuffie?

Burnaby RCMP appealed to the public to return Coco to her owner. (Supplied)

She was mysteriously found and returned from Langley, B.C.

And Coco wasn't the only canine who was stolen this year.

Max or Dex?

Max, the curly haired mutt who was spirited away from Greece to North Vancouver ended up in a international tug-of-war.

A woman who went to Greece to help Syrian refugees came back with the dog.

She named him Dex. Problem was the Greek-Australian family that claimed they raised the dog accused her of dog theft.

Max is so irresistible he's sparked an international tug of war over his furry cuteness. (David Horemans / CBC)

As far as we know Max-Dex remains in B.C., but the fight for him has not ended.

The Birds!

Canuck the crow became Vancouver's "most notorious bird" after stealing a knife believed dropped by a man police shot in May.

The crow stole headlines worldwide, with the police shooting almost forgotten after the black, feathered bandit swooped past the police tape and tried to make off with the weapon.

Canuck the crow was spotted with a knife, but the evidence was circumstantial. (Facebook/thecrowandI)

Witness Vancouver Courier reporter Mike Howell said he saw the bird — which had a red tag on its leg — swoop in and pick up an object from inside an area cordoned off by police tape.

"A cop chased it for about 15 to 20 feet, and then the crow dropped it and took off," Howell told CBC.

The knife was recovered, and Canuck, although never positively identified, remains the prime suspect.

The man who was shot was taken to hospital and survived, police said.

Ricky the rooster

Another Vancouver bird earned fame for his unusual footwear. Ricky the rooster was dumped in Stanley Park years ago and soon became a park mascot.

This high-stepping rooster has captured the hearts of staff in Vancouver's Stanley Park. (@Ricky_the_Chicky/Instagram/Sheena Urquhart)

Staff saved up and bought him some bird booties after he developed bumblefoot — a painful inflammatory condition.

White bear cub

Bear biologists debated the genetic makeup of a cream-hued black bear cub in Whistler, B.C., after a guide stumbled across the rare baby bear by chance and snapped some pictures.

Images of the pale cub and its mother went viral.

A rare white bear cub was spotted this summer in Whistler. (Arthur De Jong/Whistler Blackcomb/Canadian Press)

It was decided the animals was probably albino, because unlike a Kermode bear, the baby did not have a black nose or pigmentation.

Wilder wildlife on Vancouver Island

Some Grizzly bears seen swimming near Port McNeill also made headlines, as grizzlies do not live on Vancouver Island typically. And a buck that got very aggressive made the news for attacking joggers and dogs in Victoria. 

Sad end to the year with loss of 2 belugas​

The saddest animal story out of B.C. came late in 2016 with the passing of Qila and later her mother Aurora at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The deaths re-opened debate over keeping cetaceans in captivity.

A two-month-old beluga whale calf swims with her mother, Qila, at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday August 12, 2008. (Darryl Dick/The Canadian Press)

Vancouver Aquarium president and CEO John Nightingale dismissed concerns as anthropomorphizing the creatures when CBC's Rick Cluff asked how he responded to critics who say the belugas' deaths prove whales belong in the wild.

"To the degree I can I urge people not to think about belugas as if they were people, which I hear a lot. Like, 'I couldn't imagine living in a pool like that.'

"Well, the beluga couldn't imagine living in your living room either. They are fit and adapted to live the life they lead and different things matter to them than what matters to us."

Despite this response, the future of belugas at the aquarium remains in sharp relief against the silhouette of the lost pair — a dark, sad, backdrop to the raging debate.

A Vancouver Aquarium staff member kisses Aurora the beluga in December 2014. The head of the aquarium's cetecean research program says staff form a close bond with the animals they work with. (Neil Fisher/Vancouver Aquarium)