Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stuff's top 10 animal stories of 2011

From a lost penguin to a soothsayer sheep, the animal kingdom has provided a series of eye-catching headlines in 2011.

Below you'll find some of our favourites, but feel free to tell us yours in the comments below.

1. HAPPY FEET

Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who became a national icon after he was discovered on Peka Peka beach in June.Emperor penguin Happy Feet just before being released into the Southern Ocean.

The most closely followed animal story of the year had to be Happy Feet, who veered off course and was found in June on Peka Peka beach, near Wellington, 1000km from his normal habitat. The confused emperor penguin started eating sand and eventually had to be treated at Wellington Zoo. The nation watched his recovery anxiously and rejoiced when he was released back into the ocean. But when the satellite transmitter he had been fitted with stopped sending signals, rumours of his demise started to circulate. Happy Feet's fate is still unknown.

2. THE TSUNAMI DOG

The dog who was rescued three weeks after being washed out to sea in Japan's March tsunami.
The dog who was rescued three weeks after being washed out to sea in Japan's March tsunami 01 Japan Coast Guard members work to rescue the dog after its three week ordeal.

This brave dog spent three weeks alone, floating on the wreckage of a house that was washed out to sea during Japan's March 11 deadly earthquake and tsunami before eventually being spotted and whisked to safety.

3. MANUKURA THE WHITE KIWI

Manukura - rare white kiwi 01Manukura, the first white kiwi chick to be hatched in captivity.

Manukura was born on May 1 at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. She was the only white kiwi in her litter, and is believed to be the first of her kind born in captivity. In October, Manukura underwent surgery after swallowing a stone and is now back home in the Wairarapa.

4. SAUSAGE THE RIOT DOG

Sausage the dog, who was frequently spotted in the thick of the Greece riots. 04Sausage the dog, who was frequently spotted in the thick of the Greece riots.

When Greece's economic crisis led to violent protests in Athens, Sausage could often be spotted joining in. Sausage, who wears tags like many Greek strays, was lauded as a "symbol of freedom" in a volatile time.

5. BABY LA PLATA DOLPHIN

The baby dolphin found in Uruguay who melted a thousand hearts.The baby dolphin found in Uruguay who melted a thousand hearts.

When this dolphin was found alone on a Uruguayan beach with its umbilical cord still attached, wildlife rescuer Richard Tesore took on the task of mothering it. Photos of Tesore bottle-feeding and playing in the waves with his young charge drew a collective "Awww" across the world.

6. CHRISTCHURCH SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS

The search and rescue dogs who helped search for survivors after Christchurch's fatal earthquake.The search and rescue dogs who helped search for survivors after Christchurch's fatal earthquake.

After the devastating February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, search and rescue dogs combed the rubble searching for survivors. In April, the dogs were honoured for their bravery at the National Dog Show.

7. THE MILKY BAR SNAIL

The rare albino snail discovered by a group of trampers in Kahurangi National Park.The rare albino snail discovered by a group of trampers in Kahurangi National Park.

This albino snail was discovered by a group of trampers in Kahurangi National Park in the South Island. Albino snails are extremely rare - this is only the second time one has been spotted.

8. PHOENIX THE TURTLE

-Phoenix the turtle, the sole survivor of an aquarium fire in Mapua.-Phoenix the turtle, the sole survivor of an aquarium fire in Mapua.

When a fire destroyed Touch the Sea Aquarium in Mapua, near Nelson, Phoenix was the sole survivor. She was completely unharmed in the blaze, and is now living at Nelson's Natureland Zoo. Police are investigating the arson.

9. OILY FEET

A group of Little Blue Penguins are released in Mount Maunganui. The penguins were being kept at the Oiled Wildlife Facility following the Rena spill 01A group of Little Blue Penguins are released in Mount Maunganui. The penguins were being kept at the Oiled Wildlife Facility following the Rena spill.

More than 2000 birds died after the Rena container ship ran aground off the coast of Tauranga in October. Oily Feet and his fellow little blue penguins provided a spark of hope when they were released back into the sea.

10. SONNY WOOL

Sonny Wool, the psychic sheep who predicted the All Blacks would win the World Cup.Sonny Wool, the psychic sheep who predicted the All Blacks would win the World Cup.

Sonny Wool the "psychic" sheep echoed the hopes of every New Zealander when he picked the All Blacks to win the Rugby World Cup. Sonny made his predictions by choosing between food containers marked with the competing countries' flags. His optimism paid off on October 23 when New Zealand side beat France and to win the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time since 1987.

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