The Grim Reaper cut a swath through the ranks of society's artists, entertainers and celebrities in 2016, claiming a host of famous pets and animals as well.
When the Chicago Zoological Park opened on June 1st of 1934, included among its 270 resident creatures was a year-old Major Mitchell's Cockatoo named Cookie. Time passed and the CZP became the Brookfield Zoo; Cookie just became older... and older. In 2015, Guinness World Records recognized Cookie as the world's oldest living parrot. Since 2009 Cookie enjoyed life in retirement away from public display before peacefully passing away on August 27th, 2016 at the age of 83. (via Richard Roche)
Hanako, a female Asiatic elephant, lived at the Inokashira Park zoo in Tokyo, Japan. Brought from her birthplace in Thailand as a two-year-old in 1947, Hanako spent most of her last 60-odd years in a cramped concrete enclosure before passing away in late May of 2016. Described as the “World's Saddest Elephant”, Hanako became violent in captivity and fatally injured two humans over the years. Complaints from the public over Hanako's deplorable living conditions had prompted zoo staff to consider changes to her enclosure and daily routine but time ran out for Hanako before any changes could be instituted. (via Yu Morita)
Toughie wasn't just any old Rabbs' fringe-limbed treefrog, he was the last living member of his species when he died on September 26th of 2016 at an estimated age of 12 years. Toughie was already an adult when he was captured in Panama in 2005, along with several dozen frogs and tadpoles of the same species, during a conservation mission investigating the effects of a deadly fungal infection. Brought to the United States, Toughie lived in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's biosecure “frogPOD” where attempts to mate with a resident female frog failed to produce viable offspring. (via EcoWatch)
Scooter, a Siamese tomcat belonging to Gail Floyd of Mansfield, Texas celebrated his 30th birthday on March 26th of 2016. He passed away just a few days later, before Guinness World Records officially confirmed his longevity on April 8th. Though several female cats have lived longer than Scooter, the much-loved male was certainly no slouch in the geriatric department: local vet Dr Tricia Latimer believes Scooter lived to the equivalent of about 136 in human years. (via BBC)
Pedals, a black bear who walked on his hind legs and became an internet sensation, died during the state of New Jersey's officially sanctioned bow & arrow bear hunt in early October of 2016. Pedals was first observed in 2014 wandering through Rockaway Township, and once videos of the bear walking about in suburban areas became popular, concerns arose that he would be targeted during the 2016 hunt. Those worries proved justified when state officials confirmed Pedals was one of 562 black bears killed over the five-day hunting season. (via Mike Bender, USFWS)
Machali, who passed away on August 18th of 2016, was a Bengal tigress who lived in India's Ranthambore National Park. Estimated to be 20 years old at the time of her passing, Machali grew to be India's most well-known and most-photographed wild tiger. Famed for her hunting prowess, Machali lost two canine teeth in 2003 when she took on and killed a 12ft-long crocodile. Machali gave birth to 11 cubs over her longer-than-average lifespan and the celebrated tigress was cremated according to traditional Hindu rituals at a public ceremony. (via The Indian Express)
Bretagne, a 16-year-old Golden Retriever, was the last surviving 9/11 Ground Zero search dog. A veteran responder of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ivan (to name just a few), Bretagne was only two years old when the deadly events of September 11th, 2001 transpired. Working with handler Denise Corliss, Bretagne performed her duties 12 hours a day for two weeks following the terrorist attacks. On June 6th of 2016, suffering from kidney failure and debilitating arthritis, Bretagne was led by Corliss past a coterie of saluting firefighters into Fairfield Animal Hospital where she was gently and reverently put to sleep. (via The Animal Rescue Site)
Pierre was an African penguin who resided at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco from February 16th of 1983 to May 6th of 2016. Pierre achieved notoriety for the custom-fitted wetsuit he wore in 2008 while recovering from an allergic reaction that left him partially featherless. In April of 2016 and at the grand old age (for a penguin) of 33, Pierre was diagnosed with renal failure and he succumbed to his illness several weeks later. Read all about Pierre's inspiring life here! (via SFGate, image via Amazon.com)
Mahpiya Ska (White Cloud)
White Cloud, or “Mahpiya Ska” to use the Lakota Sioux translation, was a female albino American Bison who lived on the open prairie surrounding the National Buffalo Museum in Michigan, North Dakota. Born in July of 1996, Mahpiya Ska gave birth to 11 calves though only one, Dakota Miracle, was also white-coated (though not a true albino like his mother). Pure white bison are sacred to a number of Native American tribes and it's estimated over three million visitors paid tribute to Mahpiya Ska in person over her 20-year lifespan. She passed away on November 14th, 2016 at the Shirek Buffalo Ranch where she was born. (via National Buffalo Museum, image via Amazon.com)
Last but definitely not least we find Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla who was shot by officials of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on May 28th of 2016, one day after his 17th birthday. The circumstances of Harambe's demise were widely disseminated by both the mass media and via YouTube videos so we'll refrain from rehashing them here.
In the wake of “the incident”, Harambe became the subject of a viral firestorm eventually achieving “undeniable status as 2016's meme of the year,” in the words of the Vox news & info website. R.I.P. Harambe... and all our other friends of any and all species taken from us in 2016. (images via Amazon.com and Clint House)