Emus and cheetahs and capybaras, oh my! A brief history of Canada's animal escapes

Captivated by the rogue capybaras in Toronto? The pair join a growing list of creatures that have gone on the loose around the country.

From Burnaby, B.C., to Corner Brook, N.L., there's a growing list of creatures on the loose

(Mike Sorenson/Facebook/RCMP/Martin Trainor/CBC)

Captivated by the rogue capybaras in Toronto? The pair — who have been dubbed Bonnie and Clyde — join a growing list of creatures that have gone on the loose around the country.

While the search continues for the male and female capybara from Toronto's High Park Zoo, here's a brief history of Canada's most memorable animal escapes — from Burnaby, B.C., to Corner Brook, N.L.

Peacock in Toronto

The peacock made a stop in this Toronto backyard to the surprise of some curious residents. (Jeremy Gilbert/CBC)

The back story: Toronto's High Park Zoo is no stranger to escapees. Last year, one of their colourful peacocks fled twice. It roamed the neighbourhood — hopping from one roof to another — before eventually making its way back to the zoo.

Coun. Sarah Doucette, whose ward includes the zoo, claims zoo staff generally "knew where he was" the entire time.

Sightings: Many used social media to alert the city as to where the peacock had landed. From an eavestrough to  an alleyway, here are a few of the sightings made when the peacock was on the lam.

Twitter account: Yes. @TorontoPeacock, with more than 1,500 followers.

The tweet: Doucette had a pretty unfortunate typo in one of her peacock-related tweets, which led to this memorable accusation.

Emu in Noonan, N.B.

The emu came back home after spending most of the day in a nearby wooded area. (Mike Sorenson/Facebook)

The back story: A six-foot-tall emu escaped from a New Brunswick farm in April. His owner, Mike Sorenson, was able to track the bird down relatively quickly — it went into the woods — but it took another three hours before he was able round it up.

Sorenson thinks the bird was scared by something, so much so that it decided to scale the fence and escape its enclosure.

Social status: When the emu went missing, Sorenson used social media as a plea for help finding the elusive animal. He kept providing updates on the emu's whereabouts throughout the day, much to the entertainment of his Facebook and Twitter followers.

Petting zoo operator Mike Sorenson put out a call on Facebook to locate his missing six-foot emu. (Mike Sorenson/Facebook)

Twitter account: No.

The quote: "Issac managed to spin it around with his prime emu herding skills and I completed the kill with a full blown tackle in a mud hole. The fugitive is now locked in the barn under heavy guard!!!" Sorenson tweeted following the take down.

Cheetah near Creston, B.C.

The cheetah was spotted along a highway near Kootenay Bay. (RCMP)

The back story: Last December, Samantha Istance took the above picture of a cheetah wandering along the side of the road. After the photo circulated, Doug Bos of Discovery Wildlife Park came forward to say that the cheetah's markings suggested it might be a cheetah named Annie Rose, who had spent some time at his Alberta facility.

"I don't know 100 per cent for sure if [it is] the same cheetah," he told CBC News. "But the chances of [it] not being the same cheetah are very unlikely."

But are they allowed?: In B.C., cheetahs are considered a "controlled alien species" and it's illegal to own one without a permit.

Cheetah on the loose in B.C.

The National

5 years ago
A cheetah has been spotted on a B.C. highway, raising questions as to how it got there. 1:56

Twitter account: No.

The response: The RCMP put out a special warning, telling residents to be on the lookout, and prompted a search involving three conservation officers.

Urban encounters 

Sometimes escaped animals aren't the issue. Canadian officials have also had to cope with wild creatures caught in precarious urban situations.

Moose in Corner Brook, N.L.

Moose on the loose in Corner Brook

Here and Now

6 years ago
A moose on the loose in Corner Brook gets chased away by the RNC with our video journalist, Jeremy Eaton close behind 0:54

The back story: Not much is known about how this moose got into the parking lot out front of the Sobeys grocery store, where it moved between parked and moving cars.

What we do know is that the Newfoundland police were able to successfully escort the moose out of the parking lot and back into a wooded area, where it took off. CBC managed to capture it all on camera.

Twitter account: No.

Friends across the country?: Moose cameos in downtown Corner Brook aren't all that rare. But there have also been similar occurrences in St. John's and Timmins, Ont., which both included police escorts, or chases, depending on how you look at it.

The moment: At one point during its escape, the moose stops and looks both ways before crossing the road. Safety first, even if you happen to be a moose trampling through a Corner Brook grocery store parking lot.

Deer in Vancouver

'Downtown Deer' too friendly for its own good

CBC News

6 years ago
Vancouver's 4-legged goodwill ambassador in the news again in new video showing the fawn licking and nuzzling the hand of a tourist in Stanley Park 1:40

The back story: After a supposed swim across the busy Burrard Inlet, the so-called Downtown Deer pranced its way into the hearts of Vancouverites. The deer showed up at various intersections downtown before eventually settling in Stanley Park.

Dan Straker, the urban wildlife programs coordinator for the Stanley Park Ecology Society, warned people not to feed the deer and not to get close. But that didn't stop some from getting hand licks and nuzzles.

Sightings: From joining the morning commute out front of the courthouse to Stanley Park, the deer made its presence well known both on the street and on social media.

The deer paused traffic in the right-hand turn lane in front of the courthouse in downtown Vancouver. (Michelle Lan/Twitter)

Twitter account: Yes. @DowntownDeer, with more than 500 followers.

Friends across the country?: Quite a few deers have turned up in cities across the country, including a herd of deer who were shooed away from downtown Winnipeg. On Wednesday, a skittish doe ran through one of Halifax's main streets and remains on the loose as of this evening.

Honourable mentions


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