Top 10: Animal stories of 2013

23:40, Dec 26 2013
Sperm Whale 2
BEACHED: A whale washed up on Paraparaumu Beach outside the Kapiti Boating Club this morning.
wallaby
Who is that?: Wahloo the wallaby takes a look at himself after surgery to remove cataracts from his eyes.
Peace sheep
Peaceful: Sheep form the word 'peace' for a Japanese advertisement.
Barry the Goat
Barry the goat is king of the castle in his new home at Lindale Farm.
Shop dogs of Wellington
Bruce the english bulldog resides at The Rogue and Vagabond, 18 Garrett St.
Owhiro Bay seal
LAID BACK: This seal sighted on Wellington's south coast is a sign of a healthy seal population, Island Bay Marine Conservation Centre's Julian Hodge says.
Cato and Cam
CAM AND CATO: Rookie 2-year-old police dog Cato and his handler Constable Cam Gunn quickly picked up the scent.
gay goose
Gay goose: Thomas the gay goose has been relocated from his home in Waimanu Lagoon, Waikanae, to a safer place in Ohariu Valley.
Whale sighting off Red Rocks
A humpback whale breaches the surface off Wellington's south coast near the Red Rocks car park.
impaled cat
SHOT: Wainuiomata cat Moo Moo, which was shot through the head with a crossbow bolt.

Orcas, goats, cats, dogs and even geese across the region grabbed their fair share of headlines this year. And everyone, it seems, loves a good animal tale. Here are our top 10 for the year. 

1. Close encounters with sea creatures

Orcas, dolphins and seals were spotted many times enjoying the harbour, and Kapiti or South coasts. A curious seal was even spotted trying to cross a busy road

However, readers were perhaps most impressed with, or perhaps a little jealous of, a diver who had a close encounter with a pod of orcas. And our love of sea creatures knows no bounds - a  piece about a pod of humpback whales frolicking off Wellington's south coast was also a popular read.

A mystery clump of alien-like sea creatures that washed up on the shore near Lyall Bay also intrigued readers. 

2. Barry the Goat gets fancy new digs

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Barry the Goat first captured our attention in March last year, when he broke a leg after falling off a picnic table and the donation box for his vet bills was stolen. Barry continued seeking the limelight this year. And we're pleased to report his luck has taken a turn for the better; a new home built for him complete with a porch and a view - not that he uses it.

3. Moo Moo recovering well

Moo Moo the cat's owners made a mercy dash to Massey Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Palmerston North after their cat was shot with a crossbow bolt.

The story captured not only national attention, but was picked up by news outlets in Australia, America, Asia and even Russia.

An 18-year-old Wainuiomata man claimed responsibility for shooting Moo Moo, but said it was an accident. He appeared in Porirua District Court earlier this month. Moo Moo is expected to make a full recovery. 

4. Sheep spell peace for Japanese ad

About 140 sheep trained on a Kapiti Coast farm found fame in Japan as part of a beer commercial, after forming the word 'peace' for the shoot.

5. Gareth Morgan wants cats to go

Philanthropic economist Gareth Morgan became the enemy of cat-lovers when he called for the eradication of the four-legged creatures.

He said they were ruining New Zealand's wildlife. 

"'The fact is that your furry friend is actually a friendly neighbourhood serial killer,''  states the Cats to Go website, set up by the Morgan Foundation.

6. Bixsexual Waikanae goose moves on

Thomas the bisexual goose was shifted from his home of 30 years at Waimanu Lagoon in Waikanae to retire in Ohariu Valley, having gone blind, and being attacked by other pond-dwellers.

7. Rookie dog tracks pair after assault on driver

In August, a 2-year-old rookie police dog tracked two men 1km through bush and across a motorway after they allegedly assaulted a taxi driver over a $5 fare.

It has been a busy year for Cato. In June, he and handler Constable Cam Gunn tracked down a mental-health patient in Karori, who allegedly stabbed a stranger in the face after slipping by his healthcare minders. 

8. Shop dogs of Wellington

Some of Wellington's well-known characters are of the four-legged kind. In a light-hearted piece, we took look at some of the best shop dogs in the city. 

From Bruce at Rogue 'n' Vagabond to Winston the pug griffon at Mall Drycleaning, Wellington shopowners have some wonderful canine friends.  

The piece was so well received, we ran a follow up, More shop dogs of Wellington.

9. Wallaby on rebound after life-changing surgery

Having been blinded by the cloudy white cataracts since he was born, a Reikorangi wallaby went under the knife in a New Zealand-first surgery in December.

10. Giant sperm whale on Paraparaumu Beach

Hundreds of people flocked to the beach in January to touch and have photographs taken with the 15-metre, 40-tonne giant, which beached in the sand in front of the Kapiti Boating Club. The whale's remains were buried on a remote section of Raumati Beach, after local iwi removed its jawbone.

The Dominion Post