These are NPR’s top animal stories in 2023, including a snake on a plane

The Thompsons originally started posting on social media to keep their customers updated on the adventures their dogs went on.

Mr. Thompson


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Mr. Thompson


The Thompsons originally started posting on social media to keep their customers updated on the adventures their dogs go on.

Mr. Thompson

This year, animals make their mark in encounters that range from sad to creepy to cute.

These are the most popular animal stories on the NPR site in 2023.

A baby bison was euthanized

In May, a baby bison from Yellowstone National Park was euthanized after being touched by a visitor. The calf got separated from its herd when it crossed the Lamar River. A visitor pushed the calf from the riverbank to the road, the National Park Service said.

Park rangers tried several times to reunite the calf with the herd, but it was rejected. After some backlash, the NPS said that “national parks preserve natural processes.”

Clifford Walters, a resident of Hawaii, was charged with “one count of feeding, touching, molesting, intimidating, or intentionally disturbing wildlife,” according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming. Walters paid a $1,000 fine.

Some bird species no longer have human names

The American Ornithological Society has removed human names from about 70 to 80 bird species, initially, in the US and Canada, it said in November.

Some of those renamed include Anna’s Hummingbird, Gambel’s Quail, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Bewick’s Wren and Bullock’s Oriole.

“We understand that there are some names that have offensive or destructive connotations that cause pain to people, and that it is important to change those, to remove such obstacles to their join the world of birds,” the organization. said.

The longest Burmese python on record was caught

Stephen Gauta (left) and Jake Waleri brought the 19-foot python to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, Fla., to have it measured and donated for studies.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida


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Conservancy of Southwest Florida


Stephen Gauta (left) and Jake Waleri brought the 19-foot python to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, Fla., to have it measured and donated for studies.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Jake Waleri, 22, is seen on video taking down a 19-foot Burmese python, the tallest ever recorded, and as long as a giraffe.

The female snake was found in Big Cypress National Preserve in July, and bit Waleri before he could tape her mouth and take her to a conservancy.

Burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in Florida, and have harmed the populations of other animal species, as they have no natural predators. Because of this, Florida does not require a permit to kill snakes, as long as people do it humanely.

A Portuguese pooch killed death to become the world’s oldest dog

Bobi, a Rafeiro do Alentejo dog, broke the Guinness World Record in February for the oldest living dog, and possibly the oldest dog ever.

Bobi is 30 years old, but should have been buried as a newborn, after the Portuguese couple had more animals than they knew what to do with. But how did Bobi survive.

One of the couple’s sons, Leonel Costa, is Bobi’s owner, and suspects that Bobi’s brown fur got mixed up in the yard where he was held, causing his father to forget about Bobi on the day of his doom. .

A rare spotted giraffe has been born at a zoo in Tennessee

A reticulated giraffe was born without spots at the Brights Zoo in northeast Tennessee at the end of July. The zoo asked the public to vote on what to name him.

Brights Zoo via AP


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Brights Zoo via AP


A reticulated giraffe was born without spots at the Brights Zoo in northeast Tennessee at the end of July. The zoo asked the public to vote on what to name him.

Brights Zoo via AP

A spotless reticulated giraffe was born at Brights Zoo in Tennessee in July.

Reticulated giraffes are a subspecies of giraffes. The zoo asked the public to vote on a name for the calf, and decided on Kipekee, Swahili for “unique.”

The Kipekee was believed to be the only unspotted reticulated giraffe in the world at the time, but one was spotted in a reserve in Namibia in September.

There are only about 16,000 reticulated giraffes left in the wild, a drop of more than 50% from 35 years ago, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

A Santa Cruz otter steals surfboards

In Santa Cruz, Calif., several videos show a Southern sea otter hijacking surfboards.

The otter, known as Otter 841, reportedly had several interactions with people over the summer. Although many find the interactions cute or funny, the US Fish and Wildlife Service discourages the behavior and warns people to stay away from the animal.

The otter was born in captivity, but was released in 2020, and has been acting strangely since September 2022. The Monterey Bay Aquarium told NPR in July that if they catch him, that’s where he’ll spend the rest of his life.

But in October, the USFWS reported that Otter 841 gave birth, and hormone surges can cause aggression in otters. The agency said they have no plans to arrest her or her puppy.

“Hank the Tank” destroyed homes 21 times in Lake Tahoe

Hank the Tank is “our big bear friend who has adopted the Tahoe Keys neighborhood as his residential area,” said police in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife say DNA samples show at least two more large bears have entered nearly two dozen homes.

Bear league


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Bear league


Hank the Tank is “our big bear friend who has adopted the Tahoe Keys neighborhood as his residential area,” said police in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife say DNA samples show at least two more large bears have entered nearly two dozen homes.

Bear league

A bear in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., has been nicknamed “Hank the Tank” after authorities said the male bear was behind “152 reports of hostile behavior.”

But it turns out, three separate adult bears descend on the town, and the main perpetrator is a female bear, whose three cubs are tagged in her missions.

However, “Hank,” or Bear 64F, was responsible for at least 21 break-ins. Normally, he would have been euthanized, but public pushback prevented that from happening.

Instead, she and her three cubs were moved to sanctuaries.

A whale watching tour witnessed a gray whale giving birth

Patrons on a whale watching tour off the coast of Dana Point, Calif., were lucky enough to see a gray whale give birth.

After seeing a pool of blood, the tourists feared that the whale had encountered a predator. But soon they saw a small fluke, or tail, emerging from the bottom of the water.

The mother and the baby whale, called a cow, cooed together as the mother held it. The flukes of newborn whales do not harden for about 24 hours, and therefore have difficulty swimming.

Whales also touch a lot to become familiar with each other, because they can’t smell like land mammals.

A snake in the cockpit

A pilot was traveling across South Africa in April when he felt a chill under his shirt. He looked down to find a Cape cobra, a snake whose bite can kill a man in less than an hour.

Fortunately, Rudolf Erasmus and his passengers remained calm, and he made an emergency landing at the nearest airport.

The snake did not hit anyone, and was not found after the plane landed.

A bus for puppies

The “puppy bus” has taken the internet by storm. Various TikToks show dogs outside in snowy Alaska, waiting to be picked up by Mo Mountain Mutts, a dog walking and training service.

Other videos show dogs walking up the steps of the bus and jumping up and down on their seats by themselves, while a dog lying in the snow starts wagging its tail as the bus approaches.

“There are so many different dogs and there are so many different breeds and ages that there are so many dogs on the bus that you can identify,” said Mo Thompson, owner of Mo Mountain Mutts. “So people are like, ‘Oh, my dog ​​looks like Grandma,’ or ‘I look like Carl.’ They introduce themselves, like a dog.”

Dogs go for walks, hikes and swims after being picked up.

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