Most memorable animal stories of 2019

From “Smudge Lord” to “Chance the Snapper,” the animals that live among us do the darndest things.

With the new year upon us, let’s look back at four of our most memorable stories of 2019 involving creatures — domesticated and wild.

OTTAWA CAT RULES INTERNET MEMES

Smudge the Cat became a viral sensation in May after an image of the feline was shared on Twitter alongside a screenshot of Real Housewives cast member Taylor Armstrong.

While both the images were old and used in memes in the past, the combination of the unimpressed feline sitting at a table with a plate of salad and the visually distraught Armstrong became the “Woman Yelling at Cat” meme.

Thanks to the meme, the Ottawa cat’s popularity soared, bagging him 1.2 million followers on his Instagram account in less than six months, according to a CTV News report.

‘CHANCE THE SNAPPER’ CAUGHT

For a nearly one week in July, an elusive alligator in a Chicago lagoon captured worldwide stardom on social media and had fans staking out the park.

Animal control said the 5-foot-3 reptile, nicknamed “Chance the Snapper,” was probably an abandoned pet. After he was caught, Chicago rapper, Chance the Rapper, appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to offer some words of encouragement to his reptilian namesake.

“Keep your head up,” the rapper said. “They got you locked down. They can have your body but they can’t have your mind.”

Snapper Chance was eventually sent to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, in St. Augustine, Fla.

Chance the Snapper. (Chicago Animal Care and Control/Facebook)

RANDY STINGRAYS CLOSE ZOO EXHIBIT

The Stingray Beach exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo had to be shut down just months after opening due to aggressive, but “natural,” mating behaviour.

The rays got randy in June due to longer days and hotter temperatures brought on by seasonal changes, zoo officials said.

“During mating season … what you might get is some injuries related to the males sort of competing for female attention, but males will sometimes also bite females in the act,” a spokesman for the zoo told the Canadian Press.

To trick them into thinking the breeding season was over, the zoo reduced the amount of daylight reaching the exhibit area and cooled the water.

RACCOON MOVES INTO ZOO

Squatting raccoons are no stranger to city dwellers, but one smart critter built his homestead in an area he thought was friendly to his kind: the racoon enclosure at a zoo.

In May, keepers at the Heidelberg Zoo in Germany said zoo-crasher Fred moved into its raccoon enclosure and seemed like he was getting along fine with the seven original residents.

Fortunately for Fred, zoo officials couldn’t kick him out because European Union rules forbid him from being released back into the wild.

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