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20 Notorious Animal Deaths & Events


In the last 50 years many animals have made their mark on history.  People
and animals can form relationships and bonds that will last forever.  This
article will be documenting the life of some animals that have recently passed
away.  Some of the entries discuss specific events when a large number of
animals were killed, while others look at times when the animal had to be put
down by authorities.  All of the animals mentioned have died in the last ten

20. Domino Day Sparrow

Died: November 14, 2005


The Domino Day 2005 sparrow, generally known as the domino sparrow,
was a House Sparrow that became a nuisance during the preparations of
Domino Day 2005.  Domino Day is a televised program that features the
demolition of millions of dominos.  With only four days to go until the event,
the bird flew into the building and landed on several domino bricks, eventually
causing 23,000 of them to fall.  Event organizers were concerned that the
bird would duplicate the behavior, so a hunter was hired and the sparrow
was shot and killed in the Frisian Expo Centre in Leeuwarden, The
Netherlands.  The public prosecutor fined the shooter 200 euros for illegally
killing an animal belonging to a protected species.

19. Rose the Goat

Died: May 3, 2007


The Sudanese goat marriage incident occurred in 2006 when a Sudanese
man named Charles Tombe was forced to marry a goat with which he was
caught having sex.  The incident happened in the Hai Malakal suburb of
Juba, Sudan.  The owner of the goat, which was later given the name Rose,
subdued the perpetrator and asked village elders to consider making the
man pay a dowry because he “used the goat as his wife.”

The perpetrator was thus ordered to "marry" the goat, pay the cost of the
goat, and pay a dowry of 15,000 dinar (US$75).  The story was first
published on February 24, 2006 on the BBC website.  It attracted massive
attention and was republished in numerous newspapers, blogs and
websites.  On May 3, 2007 it was reported that Rose had died after choking
on a plastic bag.  She was survived by a four-month old baby.  The BBC
honored the animal with a mock obituary.

18. 2009 Flu Pandemic Actions Concerning Pigs


In reaction to the 2009 flu pandemic, governments around the world have
responded with some extreme actions against pigs, which have included the
official extermination of all domestic pigs in Egypt.  During the flu outbreak,
pigs were slaughtered in many Muslim countries.  This has been attributed to
religious restrictions on the consumption of pork.  Many other countries
have banned the international trade of pigs and pork products.  The World
Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no reason to believe that
pigs are transmitting the flu to humans.  However, on May 2, 2009 people on
a farm in Alberta were infected with the “swine flu” (Influenza A virus subtype
H1N1) by a group of pigs.

According to the New York Times, "based on its genetic structure, the new
virus is without question a type of swine influenza, derived originally from a
strain that lived in pigs".  This origin gave rise to the name "swine flu", largely
used by the mass media in the first days of the epidemic.  Despite this
origin, the current strain of the flu is a human-to-human transmitted virus,
requiring no contact with swine.  As a result of the disease, by mid-August
2009, pork had become the second-worst commodity investment in the
world.  U.S. pork exports plunged 20 percent in the first half of 2009 and are
heading for the first annual decline since 1990.

17. Gigolo FRH (horse)

Died: September 23, 2009


Gigolo FRH was a chestnut colored Hanoverian gelding.  A Hanoverian is a
warmblooded horse that originated in Germany.  They are often seen in the
Olympic Games and other competitive English riding styles.  During Gigolo
FRH career, he was ridden by Isabell Werth at dressage competitions, and
won four gold and two silver medals at the Olympic Games.  The pair also
achieved four world championships, eight European championships, and
four German championships.

Dressage is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with
competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics.  Its
fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive
training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform,
thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse.  Before Gigolo’s death in
2009, he was considered one of the most successful sport horses in world
history.  Like many great sport horses, Gigolo was euthanized after
sustaining a serious injury.

16. Bodacious (bull)

Died: May 26, 2000


Bodacious was a Charbray bull that was infamous throughout the sport of
rodeo, and was commonly referred to as “The World’s Most Dangerous
Bull.”  In his career, only 7 out of 135 competitors succeeded in riding
Bodacious for a full 8 seconds.  Bodacious was made famous by a move in
which he fiercely whipped the rear segment of his body, bringing his head
almost to the ground.  This forced the rider to shift all of his weight forward.
Professional rodeo rider Tuff Hedeman was one of the men that was able
to ride Bodacious for 8 seconds.  However, he was also severely injured by
the bull.  Tuff ended up having his entire face reconstructed, as Bodacious
crushed and broke every main bone in his face. 

15. Travis (chimpanzee)

Died: February 16, 2009


Travis was a male chimpanzee who appeared in many American television
shows and commercials.  On February 16, 2009, Travis viciously attacked
Charla Nash, a friend of his keeper.  The attack caused Charla to lose her
eyes, nose, face, and hands.  Travis was fatally shot by police during the
incident.  As an animal actor, Travis appeared in advertisements for Coca-
Cola and Old Navy.  He also appeared on The Maury Povich Show, The
Man Show, and in a television pilot that featured Sheryl Crow and Michael

Travis  could open doors using keys, could dress himself, was able to feed
hay to his owner's horses, ate at a table with the rest of the family, drank
wine from a stemmed glass, logged onto computers to look at pictures, and
even could operate a motor vehicle.  Sandra Herold considered Travis as a
son and pampered him.  He also bathed and slept with his owner. 

In 2003, a young man threw a projectile at the car Travis was traveling in and
the object went through a half-open window and struck Travis while they were
stopped at a traffic light.  Startled, Travis unbuckled his seat belt, opened the
car door and went after the man, but did not catch him.  In 2009, Travis stole
Sandra Herold’s car keys and Charla Nash was called to the scene in hopes
of corralling the animal, upon seeing Nash, Travis immediately attacked her.

14. Benson (fish)

Died: July 2009


Benson was a common carp and Britain's biggest and best-loved fish.
Benson was a female and she originally disappeared during a flood of the
River Nene in 1998.  She was named due to a hole in her dorsal fin that
resembled a cigarette burn.  Benson lived in the Kingfisher Lake at the
Bluebell Lakes complex, just outside Oundle in Cambridgeshire.  She lived
among 150 carp that the lakes support.  “Among keen anglers there are
about 20 carp that can be seriously called household names.  Benson was
near the top of that league.  The thing that made Benson famous was her
accessibility.  Unlike other big carp, she was a day-ticket fish and anyone
could go along and try to catch her.”

Benson was actually caught 63 times in 13 years.  She has been referred to
as “the people’s fish” and weighed around 64 pounds.  Benson died in 2009,
at the age of 25.  At the time of her death, she weighed the same as a large
dog and was worth £20,000.  The owner of the lake where she lived alleged
that she was accidentally poisoned by anglers using uncooked tigernuts as
bait.  Another possible cause of death was the complications of pregnancy
with 300,000 eggs.

13. Alice Springs Reptile Center Killings

October 2008


In October of 2008 a 7-year-old boy broke into Alice Springs Reptile Center
in central Australia and killed thirteen popular animals.  The boy started by
bashing many lizards to death with a rock and then he began feeding other
reptiles to Terry, who is an 11-foot, 440-pound saltwater crocodile.  The 30-
minute rampage was caught on the zoo's security camera and occurred after
the boy jumped the park’s security fence.

During the incident, the boy killed the zoo’s beloved 20-year-old goanna.  By
the time he was done, 13 animals had been killed, including a turtle, bearded
dragons and thorny devil lizards.  It was a rare event for this area of the
world and the boy's face remains largely blank as he performs the act.  The
child’s small size is probably the reason he didn't trip the zoo's security
system, which relies on sensors to detect intruders. 

12. River Thames Whale

Died: January 21, 2006


The River Thames Whale was a juvenile female Northern Bottlenose whale
which was discovered swimming in the River Thames in central London on
January 20, 2006.  According to the BBC, the animal was five meters (16 ft)
long and weighed about seven tonnes (24,400 lb).  The whale appeared to
have become lost and its normal habitat would have been around the coasts
of the far north of Scotland and Ireland, and in the seas around the Arctic
Ocean.  It was the first time a Northern Bottlenose had been seen in the
Thames since records began in 1913.  Sadly, the animal died on January 21
after suffering from convulsions as it was being rescued.

11. Tatiana (tiger)

Died: December 25, 2007


Tatiana was a 243-pound Siberian tiger that lived at the San Francisco Zoo
in California.  During her stay at the zoo, Tatiana was responsible for two
separate attacks, the final one occurring on Christmas Day 2007.  On
December 25, 2007 Tatiana escaped from her open-air enclosure at the
San Francisco Zoo and attacked three visitors shortly after closing time.
After escaping from the tiger grotto, Tatiana killed Carlos Eduardo Sousa
Jr., aged 17, and injured two others, Amritpal and Kulbir Dhaliwal, brothers
aged 19 and 23.  The brothers fled to the zoo cafe approximately 300 yards
(270 m) away and according to initial reports, left a trail of blood that the
tiger followed.

It took 13 minutes for rescue officials to reach Carlos Sousa.  He was found
with a slashed throat and his autopsy later revealed that he had died from
blunt force injuries of the head and neck, many punctures and scratches to
his head, neck and chest, skull and spinal fractures.  He also had a deep cut
into his jugular vein.  When four police officers and a zoo shooting team
member reached the tiger, they found her guarding one of the injured
brothers, Kulbir Dhaliwal.  They did not shoot Tatiana immediately, according
to the SF police chief, because they could not be assured of "containing
their fire" without risk to human life.

After a distraction, the tiger turned towards one of the officers and was shot
dead.  After the shooting, Tatiana's head, paws, and tail were removed by
the San Francisco police department's crime scene investigation unit.  The
Dhaliwal brothers received deep bites and claw wounds on their head, neck,
arms, and hands.  However, their injuries were not life-threatening.  The
attack was the first visitor fatality due to an animal escape at a member zoo,
in the history of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

10. Endal (Labrador retriever)

Died: March 13, 2009


Endal was a famous male Labrador retriever from England.  At a young age
Endal qualified as a fully operational assistance dog.  In the 1990s he
became the service dog for disabled ex-Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer
Allen Parton.  Endal was able to respond to over one hundred instructions
and many signed commands.  He could retrieve items from supermarket
shelves, operate buttons and switches, and load and empty a washing
machine.  He was also the fist service dog to be able to put a card into an
automated teller machine, retrieve the card when the process was complete,
and return the card to a wallet.

In 2001 Endal gained national attention in the UK after Allen was knocked
out of his wheelchair by a passing car.  The dog pulled Allen, who was
unconscious, into the recovery position, retrieved his mobile phone from
beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, barked at nearby
dwellings for assistance, and then ran to a nearby hotel to obtain help.
Endal has been described as “the most decorated dog in the world” and the
most famous dog in the UK. 

During his lifetime, Endal was filmed by over 340 news crews from around
the world.  He also had a number of world firsts as an assistance dog.  Be
sure to watch out for Endal the movie, which will be released in the UK.  In
March of 2009 Endal suffered a stroke and was euthanized. 

9. Trakr (German Shepherd)

Died: April, 2009


Trakr was a German Shepherd police dog who along with his handler,
Canadian police officer James Symington, discovered the last survivor of
the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001.  Trakr was
trained in the Czech Republic and joined the Halifax Regional Police in 1995
at age 14 months.  Trakr worked as a police dog for six years, finding over
$1 million in contraband, as well as discovering missing people and helping
arrest hundreds of criminals.  On the morning of September 11, Officer
Symington and his dog watched search and rescue operations in New York
City and decided to drive with their friend, Corporal Joe Hall, for 15 hours
from Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia to Manhattan.

On September 12, Trakr found a "live hit" (signs of life) under the rubble at
approximately 6am or 7am.  Firefighters dug in the spot, and found Genelle
Guzman, the last of the 20 survivors who had been inside the buildings when
they collapsed.  Guzman was on the 13th floor of the South Tower when it
fell.  She was trapped for approximately 26 hours before her rescue.  On
September 14, Trakr collapsed from chemical and smoke inhalation, burns,
and exhaustion, and was treated with intravenous fluids.

In his later years, Trakr suffered from degenerative myelopathy, a
neurological disease, and lost use of his hind legs.  Some experts attributed
the condition to inhaling smoke at the World Trade Center site.  Symington
took Trakr to Pawspice, a hospice for pets and outfitted him with a cart so
that he could power himself with his front legs.  Trakr died in April, 2009, at
age 16.  However, In 2008 Symington won an essay contest sponsored by
BioArts International to find the world's most "cloneworthy dog", as a result
Trakr was cloned, producing five puppies.

8. Xiang Xiang (giant panda)

Died: February 19, 2007


Xiang Xiang was the first giant panda to be released into the wild after being
bred and raised in captivity.  He was born at the Wolong Giant Panda
Research Center in the Sichuan Province, Xiang Xiang, China.  Xiang Xiang
endured a three year training regimen to equip him with the skills necessary
to survive in the wild.  Upon his release in April of 2006, Xiang Xiang was
given a radio-collar and the five-year-old male was tracked each month.
Unfortunately, Xiang Xiang was found dead less than a year after his
release.  The Xinhua News Agency announced the panda's death on May
31, 2007.  Chinese officials determined that a fall from the trees was the
probable cause of death.  However, scratches on Xiang Xiang's body
suggest that he was probably being pursued by other pandas when he fell.

7. Bear JJ1

Died: June 26, 2006


Bear JJ1, also known as Bruno, was a brown bear that is believed to have
been the first brown bear on German soil in 170 years.  Previously, the last
sighting of a bear in what is now Germany was recorded in 1838 when
hunters shot a bear in Bavaria.  Bruno was initially welcomed by the locals,
but his preferences for sheep, chickens, and beehives led government
officials to believe that the bear could become a threat to humans, so they
ordered that he be shot or captured.  The decision was publically disputed
because the bear was an endangered species in Germany.  Bruno was
described as bloodthirsty, clever, and fast.  Bavarian Prime Minister
Edmund Stoiber referred to him as a Problembär (problem bear).

Farmers claimed the bear enjoyed killing because he typically killed sheep
without eating them.  However, that is a typical behavior of a carnivore.  As
of June 2006, Bruno’s kills included 33 sheep, four domestic rabbits, one
guinea pig, as well as some hens and goats.  Further concern was
expressed due to the proximity of the bear's preferred prey to humans.

Bruno was shot dead at Rotwand Mountain near Lake Spitzingsee in
southern Bavaria on the early morning of June 26, 2006.  The Italian
government in Rome has declared Bruno’s body state property of Italy, and
is demanding his return.  The Bavarian government where Bruno was shot
dead refused, claiming a carcass on German land is theirs to keep.  He has
been stuffed, and is currently on display at the Museum of Man and Nature
in Munich.

6. Mancs (German Shepherd)

Died: October 22, 2006


Mancs was a male German Shepherd Dog that was the most famous rescue
dog of the Spider Special Rescue Team of Miskolc, Hungary.  His name
means "paw”.  Mancs was a special dog and his job was locating earthquake
survivors who lay trapped deep beneath rubble.  He could differentiate by
smell whether the person under the rubble was dead or alive, and was
trained to give different signs.  If he sensed a dead person, he would lie
down, but when he was sensing that the person beneath was alive, he stood
up, wagged his tail and barked.

Mancs and his owner, László Lehóczki, took part in several earthquake
rescue missions, including the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador and India.
Mancs became famous when he helped rescue a 3-year-old girl who spent
82 hours under the ruins after the Izmit earthquake of 1999 in Turkey.  In
December 2004, a statue of Mancs was erected in downtown Miskolc.  He
died on October 22, 2006, of pneumonia.

5. Titus (gorilla)

Died: September 14, 2009


Titus is the name given by researchers to a silverback Mountain Gorilla of
the Virunga Mountains.  Titus is remarkable in that he was under almost
constant observation by researchers since his birth in 1974, including Dian
Fossey, Veronica Vecellio and Felix Ndagijimana.  Titus was born on August
24, 1974 and was named by gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, who was
observing his group at the time.  At a young age Titus formed a bond with
another male gorilla named Beetsme and the pair became the nucleus of an
unstable bachelor group.  Eventually five females joined Beetsme and Titus'
group.  Beetsme, now a fully-grown silverback, drove off all of the males
with exception to Titus and became the dominant male of the group.

The females however, especially dominant female Papoose, seemed to
have been more attracted to Titus and began to mate with him in secret.  In
1991 he began systematically asserting his dominance over the other males
in his group and a year later, aged eighteen, Titus peacefully displaced
Beetsme as the dominant male of the group.  Titus sired more children than
any other gorilla on record and by 2004 controlled the largest known gorilla
group in the world.  However, at age thirty his dominance was fading and he
began fighting with his son Kuryama.  Three years later, Kuryama asserted
himself as the dominant male.  Researchers reported that Titus was still
regarded with great respect and affection by the entirety of the group in the
last years of his life.  Titus died in September of 2009 after a week of

4. Cheakamus River Derailment Fish Massacre

August 5, 2005


The Cheakamus River derailment occurred when nine cars from a Canadian
National Railway freight train derailed into the Cheakamus River in British
Columbia.  The cars contained approximately 40,000 liters of caustic soda
(sodium hydroxide), which quickly entered the river.  Sodium hydroxide is
used in many industries, mostly as a strong chemical base in the
manufacturing of pulp and paper, textiles, drinking water, soaps, detergents,
and as a drain cleaner. 

The chemical spill killed over 500,000 fish from 10 different species,
including chinook salmon, coho salmon, pink salmon, and rainbow trout, both
freshwater and ocean-dwelling.  On November 5, 2005, federal transport
minister Jean Lapierre ordered the Canadian National Railway to limit the
number of cars on its conventional trains traveling in the area. 

3. Lin Wang (elephant)

Died: February 26, 2003


Lin Wang was a famous Asian elephant that served with the Chinese
Expeditionary Force during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
After a battle at a Japanese camp in 1943, Lin Wang, along with twelve
other elephants, were captured by the Chinese.  During the war, the
elephants were used by the Japanese to transport supplies and pull artillery
pieces.  The Allied forces also used these elephants for similar tasks.  At
this time in history, Lin Wang was named Ah Mei (The Beautiful).  In 1952,
the army decided to give Lin Wang to the Taipei Zoo at Yuanshan, where he
met his life-long mate Malan.

Lin Wang became the most famous and popular animal in Taiwan, and in
1983 the zoo threw the first birthday party for his sixty-sixth birthday.  Since
then, his birthday was celebrated every year on the last Sunday of October
at the zoo.  Many adults and children alike affectionately called the bull
elephant "Grandpa Lin Wang."  In early 2003 Lin Wang suffered arthritis on
his left hind leg.  He started to lose his appetite along with other
complications, and on February 26th, Lin Wang died.  The average life
expectancy for a typical Asian elephant is 70 years.  Lin Wang lived to the
age of 86.  He is the longest-living elephant to die captivity.

2. Ah Meng (Sumatran Orangutan)

Died: February 8, 2008


Ah Meng was a female Sumatran Orangutan and a tourism icon of
Singapore.  As a child, she was smuggled from Indonesia and kept illegally
as a domestic pet before being recovered by a veterinarian in 1971.  At age
11, Ah Meng was given a home at the Singapore Zoo.  For many years she
was the head of the small clan which lives in a large enclosure at the zoo.
During her stay, Ah Meng was the poster girl for the Singapore Zoo.
Pictures of her were used in Singapore's tourism advertisements worldwide.
She has also been featured in over 30 travel films and more than 300 news

Due to the fact that Ah Meng was raised by a human family, she was more
approachable than other primates in her clan.  She helped launch the Zoo's
Breakfast with an Orangutan program.  In 1992, the Singapore Tourism
Promotion Board gave Ah Meng the "Special Tourism Ambassador"
award.  Ah Meng died in February of 2008 due to old age.  She was 48
years old, or 95 orangutan years, and is survived by two sons and three
daughters, as well as six grandchildren.  Today, there are only about 7,500
Sumatran Orangutans left in the wild rainforests of Indonesia.

1. Snowflake (gorilla)

Died: November 24, 2003


Snowflake was a modern marvel.  He is the only known albino gorilla ever to
exist, other albino apes have been born, but Snowflake is the only gorilla.
During his lifetime, Snowflake was the most popular resident of the
Barcelona Zoo in Catalonia, Spain.  He has many different names including
Nfumu Ngui, Floquet de Neu, Blancanieves, and Copito de Nieve.  The
official story is that an ape specialist, Jordi Sabater Pi, found Snowflake in
1966 in Ikunde, modern-day Equatorial Guinea.  He was captured outside
Nko, near Rio Campo, in the Rio Muni region, on October 1, 1966, by
Benito Mañé.  Mañé killed the rest of Snowflake’s family in order to obtain
this unusual albino specimen.

Benito kept him at his own home for four days and then transported him to
Bata, where Snowflake was purchased by Sabater Pi, who worked for the
Barcelona Zoo's Ikunde Center, in Spanish Guinea, and paid 10,500 pesetas
for the gorilla.  Snowflake was a Western Lowland Gorilla.  He was known
worldwide, mentioned in tourist guides and put on postcards, becoming the
unofficial mascot of Barcelona.  Snowflake displayed marked photophobia
which caused him to close his eyes repeatedly when exposed to bright light.
It was calculated that he blinked on an average of 20 times a minute.

During his life at the zoo, Snowflake fathered twenty-two offspring, but none
of them were albino.  Towards the end of his life, Snowflake was thought to
be between 38 and 40 years old; the average lifespan of a gorilla in the wild
is 25.  Since 2001, he had suffered from an unusual form of skin cancer,
almost certainly related to his albinism condition.  In September 2003, it was
publicly announced that Snowflake was dying.  Thousands of people visited
the zoo to say goodbye before he was euthanized in November 2003.  One
will hope that we will see another like him.

Honorable Mention

Odie (pedigreed pug)

Died: January 31, 2008

Zeltim Odie Peterson, better known just as Odie, was a purebred pedigreed
pug, who received international media attention for his unusual talent.  Odie,
with the encouragement of his owner Erica Volkman, appeared to be able to
speak the words "I love you".  AOL Television declared Odie's 2005
appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman as "the most memorable
moment of the year".  I don’t know about that, but it is a cute clip.  Sadly,
Odie suffered from an enlarged heart and died on January 31, 2008.


Died: 2002

Not Oscar

Hypnodog is a canine stage hypnotist act, based in Mountain Ash, Rhondda
Cynon Taff, Wales.  The show is run by a professional hypnotist named
Hugh Lennon who discovered Oscar, a 10 month old black Labrador
retriever puppy, on a farm in Yorkshire.  Lennon states that he initially he
bought Oscar as a pet and brought him to shows for companionship, but
"one night I brought him on stage with me.  He started staring at this girl and
she fell into hypnosis, without me doing a thing".  Lennon maintains that a
number of dogs and other carnivores have a natural ability to hypnotize

In 1995, Oscar made headlines in the UK and all over the world, when he
went missing while appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland.  He is
also familiar to many students of English as a second language, as materials
about Oscar and his act are featured in the Oxford University Press English
language course.  In 2001, after 12 years performing, Oscar's eyesight
failed and he was no longer able to hold the penetrating stare necessary for
stage hypnosis.  He passed away the following year.

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