Animal antics drawing attention this year included:
WORLD'S FIRST AIRPORT THERAPY PIG HOGS CALIFORNIA LIMELIGHT
Anxious airline passengers who may have tried to calm nerves
with a cocktail or sleep aides were introduced to a new remedy
in November at San Francisco International Airport: a therapy
pig. LiLou, a 5-year-old Juliana pig, is now a member of the
airport's "Wag Brigade," which otherwise consists mainly of
therapy dogs meant to help ease passenger travel anxieties.
Dressed in a pilot's cap and with toenails painted bright red,
LiLou uses her hooves and snout to bash out tunes on her toy
piano before she signs off duty and returns to her owner's
downtown San Francisco apartment.
GOATS HELP SAVE CALIFORNIA REAGAN LIBRARY FROM WILDFIRE
A voracious goat herd may burp and bow after being credited with
helping save the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library from a
California wildfire in October by eating 13 acres (5 hectares)
of flammable scrub and creating an impenetrable fire break. The
500 hired goats, with names including Vincent Van Goat and
Selena Goatmez, like to eat noxious weeds and other invasive
species that fuel wildfires, said herd owner Scott Morris. By
acing their all-you-can-eat assignment, the goats aided in
sparing such library treasures as a piece of the Berlin Wall.
The Easy Fire raged less than 50 feet (15 m) from the site's
hangar housing the Air Force One jet used by the late Republican
president, who is buried at the library along with his wife
GRASSHOPPERS TAKE VEGAS BY SWARM, UPEND WEATHER RADAR
A near-Biblical plague of grasshoppers descended on Las Vegas in
July, with so many swarming around the bright lights of
America's Sin City that the National Weather Service detected
them on its radar. The grasshopper migration was triggered by a
wetter-than-normal winter. It sparked fear and loathing on
social media, and prompted some hotels in the tourist district
known as the Strip to shut off lights and operate in darkness in
an effort to foil the insect invasion.
LOVELORN RIGHT WHALE SONG RECORDED OFF ALASKA
The crooning of a rare North Pacific right whale was recorded
for the first time ever in June, and scientists said it sounded
like the elusive aquatic mammal was looking for love. The likely
mating call of the right whale was documented by researchers in
the Bering Sea off Alaska's coast. Scientists said they were
traveling in such thick fog they could not see the animal, and
assumed its serenade was a whale's version of a dating profile.
Possibly something like, "If romantic dinners feasting on krill
near the ocean floor with a 70-ton companion are for you, I'm
GRUMPY CAT, WHOSE SCOWL DROVE A MILLION MEMES, DIES AT AGE 7
Life sucks, then you die. The feline who embodied that
philosophy became known to millions of online fans as Grumpy
Cat, her permanent frown catapulting her to internet stardom.
The scowling kitty, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, appeared
on magazine covers, television advertisements and even starred
in her own movie "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever." She died
in May at age 7 after a urinary tract infection.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Scott
Malone and Lisa Shumaker)
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