Monday, January 1, 2018

A Year of Animal Oddities Around the World: 7 Reader Favorites

December 30, 2017

A rare white giraffe and her calf in Kenya. Video of the animals was believed to be the first of its kind. 
Hirola Conservation Program/Caters

The animal kingdom is full of wondrous, wild and weird stories.

So it’s no surprise that animals made headlines across the globe in 2017 for rare, odd and heroic episodes. Here is a look at some of the stories that captured our readers’ attention.

These rare white giraffes were spotted in Kenya.

A pair of spectral animals roamed the plains of Garissa County near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Kenya’s east.

The animals, rare white giraffes, inspired awe across the world after the Hirola Conservation Program posted a video of them.

Abdullahi H. Ali, who founded Hirola, said it was the first known video of white giraffes.

The giraffes displayed the characteristics of a genetic condition known as leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells, Dr. Ali said.

A hero dog was awarded a medal in Britain.

A Belgian Malinois that was badly injured by shrapnel in Afghanistan was awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest award for animal bravery, in November.

The dog, Mali, was recognized for helping to sniff out Taliban militants and booby traps during a mission by Afghan and British Special Forces in 2012.

The Dickin Medal has been awarded 69 times since it was established in 1943. Its recipients include 32 pigeons — G.I. Joe among them — 32 dogs, four horses and one cat.

Snakes kept Bangkok’s fire department busy.

Snakes have always been a part of life in Bangkok. They lurk in toilets, swim in flooded streets and slither into people’s homes.

In 2017, the Bangkok Fire and Rescue Department, which is responsible for removing snakes from homes, was busier than ever. It received more than 31,800 calls for help, more than three times the number it got just five years earlier.

Firefighters with a python in Bangkok. Credit Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

As the sprawling city of more than 8.2 million people continues to expand into what was once wild land, snake encounters are likely to be frequent.

Syrian zoo animals were evacuated from a war zone.

Nine animals clinging to life at an abandoned zoo on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, were evacuated to a rehabilitation center in Turkey in July thanks to the help of an American journalist and businessman.

An ailing lion was given water while being transported from an abandoned zoo near Aleppo. Credit Four Paws International

The animals — three lions, two tigers, two bears and two hyenas — were relocated after months of uncertainty amid the country’s brutal civil war. The zoo’s owner had fled, leaving the animals caged and alone.

The American, Eric Margolis, financed the effort by local groups to move the animals after the months long siege of Aleppo finally ended.These elephants kept warm with giant blankets.

These elephants kept warm with giant blankets.

When unseasonably cold weather hit the Winga Baw camp for orphaned elephants in Myanmar in December, workers scrambled to protect the seven animals in their care. But with temperatures falling to a 40-year low, the usual technique of using straw to keep the animals warm would not suffice.

Temperatures fell to 46 degrees in some parts of the country. But the camp, in the Bago Region of Myanmar, had a secret weapon: giant knitted and crocheted blankets.

How do you keep a blanket on an elephant? Caretakers at a camp in Myanmar tied it firmly around the animal’s belly. Credit Save Elephant Foundation

They were donated by Blankets for Baby Rhinos, a wildlife conservation craft group made up of 1,500 knitters and crocheters across the world.


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