5 of the most unusual animal stories in Ontario in 2023


Published December 29, 2023 at 2:31 pm

oshawa kangaroo found
Police officers found and captured a missing kangaroo on Dec. 4. Photo: Durham Regional Police

This year several animal stories made headlines in Ontario.

From a kangaroo on the loose to a crime-fighting dog, there were plenty of stories that grabbed attention away from human follies.

Animals can bring people joy and comfort but they can also do some weird and wonderful stuff.

Here are five animal stories that made headlines in Ontario this year:

Harley the police dog

Harley, the first dog in Canada trained to seek out digital storage devices that may be related to the exploitation of children, joined the Peel Regional Police early in 2023.

Harley is a two-year-old female yellow Labrador Retriever who, along with her handler Detective Constable Jay Vanderburgh, graduated from an Electronic Storage Detection canine course in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The dog not only has brains — her good looks earned Harley a spot in the 2024 Operation Underground Railroad’s calendar.

Peel Regional Police dog makes it onto North American fundraising calendar

Snakes on a plane!

Well, not quite but a snake did take a tour through Pearson Airport in Mississauga this summer.

On Aug. 7, what appeared to be a garter or brown snake was caught on video and posted to TikTok by a human traveller inside Terminal 1.

Fortunately, the snake was captured and reportedly taken outside and released back into the fields surrounding Canada’s biggest and busiest airport.

Alice the wandering cow

For about 24 hours, Alice the wandering cow from Burlington was the talk of the town in October.

On Halloween morning, Alice went missing in rural Burlington.  Soon after reports started to come in on Alice sightings as she explored the backroads and perhaps, greener pastures?

Eventually, she was brought home on Nov. 1, happily reunited with her farm family.

missing cow burlington

Kangaroo on the loose in Oshawa 

Similar to Alice but way faster, this rogue kangaroo grabbed headlines across Ontario and even as far away as Australia.

The kangaroo escaped its handlers while being transferred to stay overnight at the Oshawa Zoo on the way to a zoo in Quebec on Nov. 30. It was seen hopping along roads north Oshawa but evaded capture until Dec. 4 when Durham Regional Police officers finally caught the animal.

Even after three days on the lam, the kangaroo still had enough energy to punch one officer in the face. The officer was not seriously hurt.

oshawa kangaroo found

One-armed baboon escapes and bites a person

In October, a baboon named Mark escaped and bit a woman in her 40s in Latchford, a town of about 300 people, nearly 500 kilometres north of Toronto.

The woman recovered but remained scared of passing the main street home where the baboon still lives.

Sadly, both this story and the escaped kangaroo highlighted concerns about unregulated zoos and animal bylaws.

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