Dragons, beavers and owls: Most memorable animal stories of 2017

From hungry owls to angry beavers, it seemed 2017 was the year of the beast in Alberta.

The feathered and furry were big newsmakers this year

Daisy, the blind baby goat, was abducted from a Wetaskiwin animal rescue, then mysteriously returned, safe and sound, after a massive goat-hunt. (FARRM/Facebook)

From hungry owls to angry beavers, it seemed 2017 was the year of the beast in Alberta.

As has become tradition at CBC Edmonton at this time of year, we like to take time to look back at the animal stories that warmed and broke our hearts in the past year. 

Here are some of our favourite homegrown animal stories from 2017, in no particular order.

Where's Daisy

Daisy, the blind baby rescue goat, was abducted from a Wetaskiwin animal refuge in September, prompting her rescuers to post a $10,000, no-questions-asked reward for her safe return.

The goat-hunt that ensued spanned the province and pulled at heartstrings across the country. Within the week, Daisy was mysteriously returned to her rightful owners, and is now happily grazing with her best friend, a blind sheep named Merlin.

Year of the Owls

Hedwig the snowy owl had a Harry-Potter inspired road trip to a rescue organization in the Edmonton area, which caught the attention of famed author J.K. Rowling. (Sithara Fernando)

Several small dogs were maimed this year by hungry horned owls.

Other owls kept turning up at local animal rescues with bizarre injuries this winter, including one that survived a fiery flight through an industrial methane flare.

The phenomenon even caught the attention of famed author J.K. Rowling, when a snowy owl with a broken wing earned the name Hedwig, and took a road trip to her rescuers, all while listening to Harry Potter audio books.

'It was an owl sitting on top of her'

5 years ago
Duration 1:21
Bailey is on the mend after she was attacked by a great horned owl in Sherwood Park on Tuesday

Saving Manno

Manno and his foster mother at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. (Andreas Fox)

More than three years after an Alberta man set out to free Manno from an Iraqi zoo, the young chimpanzee is thriving with his own kind in Kenya.

Spencer Sekyer first met the young chimp when he was doing volunteer work with a local veterinarian at the Duhok Zoo in Iraq. Over time, the Sherwood Park high school teacher became worried about Manno's future, since conditions in the zoo were challenging and chimps tend to grow more aggressive as they age.

After a harrowing relocation, Manno will spend the rest of his days at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and has been adopted by a loving foster mother named Akela.

Photography gone wild

Alberta photographer David Smith snapped this rare shot on the shores of Kinnaird Lake. (David Smith/ILEP Photography)

When a wolf chased a deer across a northern Alberta lake in early September, David Smith was there to capture the rare sight.

An amateur photographer from Sherwood Park, Smith was camping with friends on Kinnaird Lake when he spotted the unusual struggle, and snapped photographs that caught the attention of shutterbugs across the country.

For the record, the young wolf was unskilled hunter and the buck escaped unscathed.


Mish Rose spotted this lynx hanging out in a patch of grass near 170th Street and 118th Avenue. (Supplied/Mish Rose)

It was a regular Tuesday afternoon for Mish Rose, until it wasn't.

The Edmonton man was on lunch break when he noticed some truckers gathered across the street.

Curled up in a patch of grass was a lynx.

The wild cats are extremely elusive, and are rarely spotted in the city.

The lynx was unusually docile and didn't need to be tranquilized. It was taken by fish and wildlife officers to an area outside the city.

Purrfect business plan

Speaking of urban cats, Edmonton's first cat cafe​ opened this year.

Cat lovers jumped at the chance to get a caffeine fix in the company of their favourite creatures.

Cat Café on Whyte, the first permanent business of its kind in the city, opened in the Ritchie neighbourhood in March, and has been helping its resident cats find furr-ever homes ever since.

Odd couple

Despite their obvious differences, Bruce the dog and Cashew the duck share a strong bond. (Thorsby Pet Necessities/Facebook)

As Bruce and Cashew prove, friendship comes in all sizes.

The 130-pound Rottweiler and the tiny duck have formed an unlikely bond. The odd couple has become the talk of the town in Thorsby, Alta., where they can be found greeting customers inside Thorsby Pet Necessities, or on daily strolls through the streets.

Cashew and Bruce have become a big draw, not only for regular customers but for animal lovers around the province.

But the dog and the bird only have eyes for each other.

"It's comical, for sure, when you see them," said owner Andra Novakowsky. "Whenever he's en route somewhere, she's right behind.

"When they nap, they need to be close together. When they eat, they want to be together."

Beavers gone bad

Don't be fooled by this fuzzy face; if threatened by perceived predators, beavers can be ferocious. (Rick Price Photography)

Known for its paddle-shaped tail and big teeth, the beaver is a symbol of Canada's industrious spirit.

But don't be fooled by the cute and furry appearance.The big rodents proved themselves to be dam ferocious in Edmonton this year.

A spate of rodent attacks at local dog parks in June prompted warnings from the city, and words of caution from an Alberta trapper.

"The teeth that they have are very sharp, they're just like a set of chisels," said Bill Abercrombie. "Their jaws are obviously very strong because they cut down trees with those jaws, and they won't hesitate to attack.

"Dogs that come into close proximity, whether they're on a leash or not, are going to get it."

Beastly badger

This orphaned baby badger learned to survive in the wild with help from 'costumed caregivers' at a rescue facility west of Edmonton. (Wild North)

An orphaned baby badger learned how to survive in the wild with help from "costumed caregivers" at a rescue facility west of Edmonton.

Staff at the Wild North rehabilitation centre donned custom-made masks and fur suits to care for the abandoned creature.

The strange wardrobe ensured the cantankerous carnivore didn't develop an affinity for humans before it was released back into the wild in October.

Lucky ducks

Wood Buffalo RCMP came to the rescue of seven baby ducks that had fallen down a storm drain. (Wood Buffalo RCMP)

A mother and her ducklings were happily back quacking around Fort McMurray in June, after Mounties rescued the baby birds from the depths of a concrete storm sewer

A flock of clumsy ducklings had fallen into a sewer near on the city's north side.

One officer removed the manhole cover, climbed inside and shimmied down the narrow pipe.

All seven ducklings were retrieved and reunited with their mother, a feat described as a "valiant rescue."

Flesh-ripping dragons crawl into Edmonton

Two Komodo dragons make a stop in Edmonton

6 years ago
Duration 1:13
A pair of the lizards are making their Edmonton Valley Zoo debut and will be on display through the fall.
 Edmonton Valley Zoo was calling it the year of the dragon.

Dragons are real, and two of them lived in Edmonton this summer.

A pair of endangered Komodo dragons arrived at the Edmonton Valley Zoo in July, and spent the summer feeding on carcasses in front of crowds of onlookers.

The fearsome beasts, with lashing tails, powerful claws, forked tongues and a powerful venomous bite, were on loan from Calgary.

The lizards have since departed for the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, where they will meet potential mates and hopefully hatch a new generation.

Two Komodo dragons spent the summer at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. (CBC)