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2018.01.10 Animals also helped make it a weird year

By RICH FOLEY

We’ve already reviewed some of the people and events that helped make 2017 another odd year, but how about the animals that did their part? Here’s a little love to the creatures of 2017—thanks for the entertainment.

Starting off 12 months of animal strangeness was a female zebra shark in an aquarium in Australia that gave birth in an unusual fashion. Back in 2013, she was separated from her mate, but somehow, she had three offspring in January, more than three years after the split. Just how that happened without a mate is still a mystery.

In February, Georgia’s Zoo Atlanta settled a Super Bowl bet in a hilarious way. They had lost a wager with a zoo in Rhode Island, requiring them to name a baby animal after a player from the winning squad. 

Since the New England Patriots mounted a comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons, Zoo Atlanta paid off by naming a Madagascar hissing cockroach after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, famous for his involvement in the “Deflategate” scandal in which he was accused of using game balls that had allegedly been partially deflated, might confuse the cockroach’s hissing sound with that made by his footballs.

Next, it’s on to April, a month in which a South Dakota man was fined $190 for violating a local leash law while “walking” an animal in a public park. The creature in question was, believe it or not, his pet python. The owner commented that the ticketing policeman “was literally asking me to put a rope around my snake.”

Last summer, the right of a monkey to hold a copyright was decided in a federal court in San Francisco. A macaque monkey named Naruto had grabbed an unattended camera in Indonesia in 2011 and took several selfies. The owner of the camera obtained a British copyright for the photos and claimed he should have worldwide rights to sell them.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked for a court order to let PETA administer the copyright with all income to benefit Naruto. The judge ruled there was “no indication” that the Copyright Act was meant to include animals, but added that Congress and the president could address the issue if they wished. Your move, Donald.

August saw an interesting complaint registered by a visitor to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges. It said, “Our visit was wonderful, but we never saw any bears. Please train your bears to be where guests can see them. This was an expensive trip to not get to see bears.”

 Don’t the bears have enough problems already? Must they be taught to tell time and follow directions so they can make appearances when and where requested? Maybe park employees could dress up like Yogi and Boo Boo and walk around. Would that be acceptable?

In September, a lobsterman in Maine caught a translucent, almost transparent lobster. It was a “ghostly, pale blue” in color. After taking a few quick photos, he released it back into the ocean as it was an egg-bearing female, off-limits for harvesting. It was pretty spooky looking. Search for a photo online if you get the chance.

Later in the month, a kangaroo was spotted hopping down a road in Wisconsin’s Kenosha County. Deputies guessed, correctly, that it belonged to a nearby pumpkin farm. I’m still a bit puzzled by this. Do pumpkin farms in Wisconsin routinely have kangaroos on their premises? Cows on a Wisconsin farm, I can understand. But what connection do kangaroos have with farming, pumpkins or Wisconsin?

Along with the rise in the number of people raising chickens in their back yard has come a jump in illnesses from diseases related to poultry, particularly salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 1,100 people contracted salmonella from chickens and ducks between January and October. That is four times higher than in 2015. About 250 victims were hospitalized and one died.

A CDC veterinarian said the total could actually be up to 30 times higher. Most cases aren’t reported, as people don’t realize it’s their chickens who made them sick. People who cuddle their chickens or even allow them in their home are at more risk than they realize.

That’s all the animal news I have room for today, but please remember two things. Be sure to leash your python in South Dakota and if you visit Wisconsin’s pumpkin country, always watch out for kangaroos.