4 January 2021

12 animal tales you loved in 2020

| Kim Treasure
Start the conversation

If there’s one thing About Regional readers love, it’s a good animal story – and 2020 has had its fair share of those.

From wandering dogs to stolen cats, injured koalas to wombat recruits, we’ve covered all the stories that make you ooh, ah, and scratch your head. Scroll down for a look at a dozen animal tales from 2020.

12. Keen-eyed social media users help avert ‘cat-astrophe’

Zoe Pedashenko with feline Cat.

Zoe Pedashenko is reunited with Cat. Photo: Supplied.

Keen-eyed social media users helped avert a cat-astrophe after a pampered puss was cat-napped from the NSW South Coast in October 2020.

Four young Canberrans probably thought they’d pulled off the purr-fect crime when they catnapped a large, white feline from Malua Bay.

Little did they know the lengths Zoe and Andy Pedashenko would go to to find their pampered pet, Cat.

11. Some things you might not know about pelicans (because nobody really does)

Three pelicans standing in water

Pelicans are an excellent source of reflection in stressful times. Photo: Ian Fraser.

Is it true that pelicans can eat entire ducks? Naturalist Ian Fraser took a look at some fun facts about the mysterious bird.

There is no disrespect intended in our headline as there are some things no-one really knows about these familiar and wonderful birds.

Mary Hannay Foott brought our attention to one such mystery in her 1881 poem, Where the Pelican Builds, the reference being to some unknown utopia in inland Australia “where the pelican builds her nest”.

And what about the stories of more unusual food sources, including small dogs? Well, yes and no. There are well-authenticated incidents of pelicans seizing and drowning annoying silver gulls, then eating them, and a much-cited case of a mother grey teal – a small native duck – and her entire brood vanishing down a pelican’s gullet.

But tales of chihuahuas and other little dogs going the same way seem to belong in the urban myth basket.

10. Baby wombat, Ted, the latest recruit for Monaro Police District

Senior Constable Tori Murray holding Ted the wombat at Queanbeyan Police Station.

Ted the wombat is the latest recruit at Queanbeyan Police Station. He was rescued by Senior Constable Tori Murray after his mother was stuck and killed by a car in June. Photo: NSW Police.

Monaro Police District welcomed its latest recruit when baby wombat Ted found a new home at Queanbeyan Police Station. The eight-month-old was taken in by Senior Constable Tori Murray after the wombat’s mother was struck and killed by a car.

Since then, eight-month-old Ted, a lively little guy, has been a regular fixture at the station, often found taking a nap in his portable bed under Senior Constable Murray’s desk or curiously following other officers around.

9. Mum and joey koala found in the Murrah get expert help

Injured koala sitting in tree.

National Parks Association Far South Coast branch president David Gallan took this photo to assess a mother koala’s paw. Photo: David Gallan.

A mother and joey koala observed sitting in a tree near the Murrah Flora Reserve for eight days worried Far South Coast researchers, who tried to find out if they were bushfire affected or injured.

“This is contrary to everything we thought we knew about Far South Coast koalas,” said Chris Allen of the Koala Action Network. “They usually change trees two to three times per night to feed.”

Found a few kilometres from the Badja Forest firefront that was active in the nearby Murrah Flora Reserve, Chris and other koala experts were concerned the koalas could be sick, injured or traumatised.

8. More than 50 sharks spotted off South Coast beaches

Sharks circling off a NSW South Coast beach.

Sharks circling off a NSW South Coast beach in November. Photo: Westpac Helicopter.

NSW South Coast swimmers were treated to a dramatic demonstration of why they should swim between the flags when more than 50 sharks were sighted off a sandbar on Sunday, 15 November, 2020.

The Moruya Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew alerted lifesavers to the shiver of 1-1.5-metre sharks, which were hunting fish in the crystal clear waters between Moruya and Broulee.

7. How lyrebirds survive the flames to sing another day

A female lyrebird.

The female lyrebird, recognised by her smaller tail, does all the child-care. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra naturalist and conservationist Ian Fraser shared his reasons for believing lyrebirds would survive the horrific Black Summer bushfires.

“Recently I had a chat on local radio about some of the impacts of the current summer on wildlife in and around Canberra,” he wrote. “I wasn’t at all surprised when someone called just after the interview to ask about the effects of drought and fire on lyrebirds in the ranges.

“People really care about lyrebirds, and with good reason. There are two species and they are uniquely Australian. They are also among the most ancient of living modern songbirds and one of the largest.

“Locally, the ‘superb lyrebird’ is common in the ranges and wet forests of the southeast, although we hear them more often than we see them.”

6. Bega Valley koalas show signs of life after fire

National Parks employees search for fresh signs of koalas after a bushfire.

Searching for fresh signs of koalas after a bushfire. Photo: Dave Gallan.

In a small window after bushfire, but before rain, a national parks-approved search team ventured into the burnt Biamanga National Park to assess how fires had impacted the koala population.

“The very welcome news is that fresh koala scats were found on top of burnt ground at the base of a young woollybutt at the last plot site examined close to Myrtle Creek – this shows that a koala was alive after the fire,” said Dave Gallan, who was part of the group organised by Chris Allen from the Koala Action Network.

Mr Allen said that, overall, the outcome for koalas in the Bega Valley had been positive, with only two of the identified koala strongholds burnt.

5. A bittersweet announcement for Tathra’s two beloved cassowaries – Kyabram here they come

A cassowary standing on grass.

On the Perch Bird Park in Tathra farewelled cassowaries Gorge and Adelaide when the venue closed its doors in February. Photos: Lisa Herbert.

On the first birthday of Tathra’s much-loved southern cassowaries Gorge and Adelaide at On the Perch Bird Park, celebrations were tinged with sadness as owners Steve and Linda Sass announced the two dinosaur birds would be moving when the park closed its doors.

Kyabram Fauna Park was chosen by Steve and Linda as the new home for this prehistoric-looking, much loved brother and sister.

4. Lost husky found 220km away after two years and Australia’s worst bushfires

Indie the husky

Indie the husky has been returned to her family after two-and-a-half years away. Photo: BVSC.

Indie, a beloved husky from Nowra, went on a 220km walk two-and-a-half years ago and was finally reunited with her family after being found in Bermagui.

The reunion came to be after a council ranger found Indie and her two new pups, and took the dogs to safety before realising she was missing after checking her microchip.

Owner Graham Lee said he had almost forgotten about her.

3. Snake season is well and truly upon us in southern NSW

Gabby McDonald bandaged in hospital bed.

Gabby had a close encounter with a brown snake during the October long weekend. Photo: Supplied.

Four-year-old Gabby McDonald was walking with her mother, Lana, and sister, Josie, on their farm in Laggan, 45 minutes northwest of Goulburn, on Friday, 2 October, 2020, when she stepped on a brown snake.

“Gabby was about two metres in front of me and I noticed a tail wiggling by her feet,” recalls Lana. “I called out to warn her so she stepped off the snake, but as she was looking at it the snake raised its head and went to attack her.”

2. ‘Mega pod’ of humpback whales spotted feeding off the coast of Eden and Merimbula

Man photographing pod of humpback whales in sea off NSW South Coast.

Up to 100 humpback whales were spotted off the coast near Eden and Merimbula in September. Photo: David Rogers.

“Look! A whale!” is an oft-heard cry between May and September along the NSW South Coast.

But those lucky enough to be out on boats on a weekend in September, 2020, were treated to humpback whales en masse, with witnesses saying there were up to 100 whales all breaching and feeding, creating a spectacle that will not be forgotten.

Tathra-based photographer David Rogers was on Merimbula Marina whale-watching boat True Blue, and says seeing the whales – referred to as a ‘mega pod’ by locals – was the most amazing natural spectacle he’s ever seen.

1. Puppy love: Colourful ‘cuddlepillars’ the new craze for dishlickers

Dog nestled in colourful, fluffy cushions.

Butch’s tough guy demeanour was brought undone by his fluffy rainbow friend. Photo: ACT Greyhound Support Network Facebook page.

Nature is full of unusual pairings, and more than any other species, dogs seem happy to be friends with just about anyone.

You don’t have to look far to find the lovely story of the Labrador who was best friends with an elephant; the hound who adopted a baby owl; Fred the retriever and his buddy, Dennis the duck; and brave Milo the dachshund, who decided Bonedigger the lion would be his BFF. And who could forget Canberra’s most lovable pair of mates: Solo and Zama?

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.