Nfld. & Labrador

Rescued dolphins, a foraging cat and turkeys galore: 2018's animal stories to remember

In N.L., the animal stories seem never ending. And we are grateful.

In N.L., the animal stories seem never ending — and we are grateful

Jenna Flowers captured this photo of a polar bear near Hopedale. (Submitted by Jenna Flowers)

When it comes to animals that make headlines, Newfoundland and Labrador has had a few stunners.

Through the years, we've seen a moose-eating shark; we've had a bloated, rotting corpse of a blue whale; and even rumours of a panther spotted in Newfoundland.

So of course, 2018 was no different.

There were viral videos of moose, a vienna-sausage eating fox, and turkeys run amok.

A mushroom-foraging cat

This is Douglas Fir. He's a cat who hunts chanterelle mushrooms. It's the equivalent of a truffle-sniffing pig, but for local N.L. favourite fungi.

Shawn Dawson, Douglas Fir's owner, is a full-time forager, and takes his cat out into the wilderness to hunt down edible treasures.

"He follows me around. Every now and then he'll take off, and I'll find him sitting, waiting for me in a chanterelle patch," Dawson told CBC's St. John's Morning Show in August.

And under the umbrella of feline stories this year, we got acquainted with Sid, the king of downtown St. John's.

Sid, unfortunately, got himself stuck in a shop window one night, but it turned out okay and became one of the beloved cat's most famous sightings.

Sid got locked in W.M. L. Chafe & Son one night, but he didn't seem too bothered by it. (Submitted by Adam Blackwood)

Plus, we also had the province's first cat cafe open in St. John's; a swimming lynx caught crossing Gander Lake; and a rescue kitty named Pekoe inspire a line of custom-made window seats for cats.

THAT epic moose video

When talking about unforgettable animal stories of 2018, it would be a crying shame to forget about that one video of two women who saw a piebald moose.

"My blessed redeemer!" gasped Roxanne Rowsell in a now-viral video, as the moose took a bath in a pond near Black Duck Brook on Newfoundland's Port au Port Peninsula.

Nancy will forever be immortalized in the province's vernacular.

Do yourself a favour and refresh your memory by hitting the play button:

Blessed redeemer! The piebald moose is great, but this commentary is fantastic. 1:34

Not so long ago, Santa's reindeer apparently got lost on the way to the North Pole, instead wandering along the highway near Deer Lake.

Truck driver Jason White caught them on video trotting alone the Trans-Canada Highway.

Also in big moose news, we had a rescue in Quidi Vidi; another rescue of a young moose stuck in some deep snow; and another moose just straight up having a rough day.

Seriously, what's up with the fowl?

For a time, it seemed there was a turkey invasion afoot.

There were multiple sightings in a month, including one white turkey that had a surprising and glamorous moment of fame at the Four Sisters in downtown St. John's.

This turkey managed to take in an early morning look at the Four Sisters, but was back in its yard before long. (Submitted by Lisa Bokelmann Sells)

"Got a bit closer and I realized it was a big ol' turkey," Matt Roberts told CBC's St. John's Morning Show about running into the big bird.

Plus, a bunch of other turkey sightings, for some reason.

But when it comes to winged wonders, there was more than just a few turkeys running around.

We learned that puffin beaks are fluorescent. There's a scientific explanation, but … seriously, the porg-inspiring birds are the gift that keep on giving.

This puffin is lit. (Submitted by Jamie Dunning)

Back in March, a stunning green-eyed Great Cormorant was rescued by Antje Springman and Dennis Minty in Conception Bay North. It was fortunate for the bird, since Minty is a wildlife biologist.

They forced some food down its beak and, eventually, it was able to get itself back out into the wild.

The Great Cormorant has a sharp hook at the end of its bill, and feeds almost entirely on fish. (Dennis Minty Photography)

Also in notable bird news was a party of peacocks at  Campbellton Berry Farm in Notre Dame Bay; plus, there was a seagull that got itself stuck in a fence.

Fox stranded on an iceberg

A poor Arctic fox got stranded on an iceberg near St. Lewis, Labrador, back in June.

But thankfully, a fishing crew saw it struggling, with gulls trying to pick at it, so they executed a rescue. They brought the fox on the boat, dried it out and fed it Vienna sausages.

Once the fox dried out and had some food, he lost his fear of the crew members. (Submitted by Alan Russell)

"He likes them," Alan Russell told CBC's Labrador Morning.

Another water rescue happened in January, when Shane Richard came across a dog stuck in a half-frozen pond in Pouch Cove.

The dog turned out to be Wolf, who had bits of a leash still attached to his neck when he was pulled from the water.

Wolf eventually warmed up and even enjoyed a bowl of food before heading home to his grateful owners. (Melissa French/Facebook)

"On the phone it sounded like they were crying and everything," Richards said. "They were just ecstatic to get him back."

A pod of seven dolphins was the source of much worry in Heart's Delight back in March, when the ice had them trapped in the harbour for days.

When eventually crews were able to break ice enough for the dolphins to escape, the town breathed a sigh of relief — and, of course, cheered as the dolphins swam away.

Polar bears, of course

In Hopedale, a healthy-looking polar bear was all but posing for photographs back in April.

The bear stood up straight on its hind legs, before dropping onto the snow to roll around a bit.

Jenna Flowers captured the amazing photos, which were shared thousands of times.

They're beautiful animals from afar, but when a polar bear gets too close, it's not great.

In Nain and St. Lunaire-Griquet, there were a couple of close encounters.

This polar bear made it to St. Lunaire-Griquet for the end of the Iceberg Festival, but just missed the annual polar bear dip. (Iceberg Festival/Facebook)

Because of how close a polar bear and a couple of black bears came to the community in Nain, wildlife officials and RCMP had made the decision to put the animals down.

Another polar bear was spotted wandering around homes on the Northern Peninsula, prompting officials to warn people to stay away.

Coco the cow escaped from her home in Conception Bay South last Thursday. (Kelly Scott/Facebook)

And in unfortunate stories about animals that needed to be put down this year, Coco the cow might top the list.

The wandering bovine had jumped her fence in Conception Bay South in November, and spent a week on the lam, with her owners trying to track her down and get the 1,000-pound cow home.

"At least, I know where she's to and she's not going to hurt anyone else," said Louise Scott, Coco's co-owner.

Happy dog steals the show

And just a few weeks ago, we met Willow, the white Belgian shepherd who was born with a broken spinal cord, but gets by with a donated wheelchair.

Willow gets by just fine with the help of a wheelchair at the Holyrood Santa Claus parade. (Gavin Simms/CBC)

Willow's owner, Stephanie Costello, hoped that walking the pup in the Santa Claus parade in Holyrood raised awareness about other animals with special needs, who are also in need of a home.

"She's the happiest dog in the world," Costello said.

Don't feel sorry, says the owner of Willow, a dog born with a broken spinal cord 1:34

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