Animals did the sweetest, scariest and most perplexing things in 2018

From a philanthropic pig to a vengeful turtle, the animals that made headlines this year.

From a philanthropic pig to a vengeful turtle, the animals that made headlines this year

Animals did the darndest things this year. (Ben Shannon)

Whether furry or feathery, critters and creatures have had a busy year of making headlines.

CBC Radio heard tales of joy and woe from animals far and wide this year — and we got pictures.

Spoiler alert: there were a lot of newsworthy birds in 2018.

Canuck the crow is pecking everyone off — except this mail carrier

Canada Post mail carrier Tyler McLeod has made peace with Canuck the Crow who has spent the last two years terrorizing residents of Vancouver. (Shawn Bergman/Instagram)

It's a tale as old as time: postal worker delivers mail, dog harrasses postal worker. But in this Vancouver, B.C., neighbourhood, Canuck the crow has that gig covered.

If Canuck's name sounds familiar, it's probably because he initially gained global notoriety in 2016 for stealing — and then wielding — a knife from a crime scene.

The crow struck fear in many, but not mail carrier Tyler McLeod, who is good friends with the bird. McLeod even made space in his delivery van for Canuck to hang out when he delivers mail.

"This is all on his terms," McLeod, 40, told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner. "He sort of just started accepting me."

How Esther The Wonder Pig and her legion of fans crowdfunded a life-saving CT scanner for large animals

Canadian authors Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter spend time with their pig Esther at their animal sanctuary in Campbellville, Ont., on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Hannah Yoon/Canadian Press)

Esther The Wonder Pig is large, in charge, and ready to champion a cause.

The approximately 650-pound domestic pet stole hearts and gained followers when she hit the social media spotlight a few years ago.

When Esther fell mysteriously ill in the fall of 2017, veterinarians couldn't diagnose her.

"When we took her to the hospital, they did not have diagnostic equipment that was large enough to accurately see what the problem was," Esther's owner Steve Jenkins said.

Turns out, there wasn't a single CT scanner of Esther's size anywhere in the country. There is now, though, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Esther, her owners, and her legions of loyal fans.

'I was never so afraid of a turtle': When unexpected wildlife encounters go wrong

Summer in Canada is full of delights, like roaring campfires and trips to the lake. It is also, however, prime time for many adventurous critters. 

This July, Cross Country Checkup host Duncan McCue asked listeners about their most memorable run-ins with wildlife, and Neville Bryan's story did not disappoint.

While trying to help a stranded turtle cross Highway 401, near London, Ont., Bryan was met with an ungrateful response.

"This thing almost took my hand off," Bryan said. "I was never so afraid of a turtle." 

Turns out it was a snapper. 

Behold the Peacock: a fowl with the power to divide a B.C. neighbourhood

Peacocks have made a Surrey neighbourhood their home, roosting in trees and screeching in the early morning. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Peacocks: colourful, majestic and… wildly controversial?

This rings true in a least one Surrey, B.C., suburb, which has been overrun with more than a hundred of the birds. 

Locals describe on The Current how the birds roost in front yard trees, peck at cars and bedroom windows, and loudly perform their calls in the early mornings.

Residents like Lance Smart are thrilled about it, and will go out of their way to make sure the colourful birds are happy and comfortable in the neighbourhood. Many others, however, can't stand the birds and went to mighty lengths — including illegal ones — to see the peacocks gone. 

A dung beetle's genital worms will help care for its offspring

You've heard of genital lice, now get ready for genital worms. Fear not, humans — genital worms are exclusive to the dung beetle. And, as Quirks and Quarks learned, the beetles are all the better for it. 

Nematodes, or tiny worms, that ride along on the genitals of dung beetles help raise the beetle's offspring by boosting the good microbes in the beetle's dung-ball nursery nests.

"They [offspring] grow faster and larger. And the larger size helps them survive better and reproduce more," explained scientist Cristina Lédon-Rettig.

'Mom of the year': Photographer captures images of mama duck with 76 babies

Brent Cizek captured this photo of a duck leading more than 50 ducklings in Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. When he returned to snap more images, the mama had more than 70 ducklings trailing behind it. (Submitted by Brent Cizek)

It's not uncommon to see between 20 and 30 ducklings trailing behind a single female duck, but when Minnesota photographer Brent Cizek saw more than double this amount, he knew he was seeing something special.

"The photo just makes you question, you know, how is this possible? How did it happen? How is the mom taking care of so many ducks?" the local amateur wildlife photographer told As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch.

This super-mom duck is a common merganser, which generally lay up to a dozen eggs at a time. 

How did she end up with so many extra ducklings, then? She's a good friend. What's happening on that Minnesota lake is a "creche", in which an older, more experienced mother duck will take care of the other females' babies.

Furry friends help residential school survivor fight off nightmares

Vivian, 54, holds her beloved pet, Fat Cat, who helps her sleep when the residential school survivor is haunted by nightmares. (Bridget Forbes/CBC)

Vivian, a residential school survivor, says her two cats, Fat Cat and Jinx, are among the few things she can lean on to find solace.

The memories of the residential school system often haunt Vivian at night, causing debilitating nightmares. 

Fat Cat in particular is very receptive to Vivian's anxiety and is able to sense when she's had a nightmare. 

"He'll start pressing against me and give me head butts, like as if saying, 'You're here. I'm here. Calm down.'"


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