Top New York-Area Animal Stories of 2013

Bears playing on slides, a 10-foot python slithering through a parking lot, a shark on a train, bees escaping from their delivery truck and kittens shutting down the subway -- these were just some of the top animal stories of 2013 from our area. We also lost some beloved members of our city zoo families this year. See their furry faces and remember.

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A New Jersey mom and her daughters came home one day in August and found a family of bears playing on their back yard playset.
Staten Island Zoo
A sly red fox slipped out of its enclosure at the Staten Island Zoo in late November and was missing for a week before it was found.
NBC 4 New York
The agency that oversees NYC-area airports said it shot and killed three snowy owls after five planes were hit by the birds in November and December. After an outcry over the birds being killed, the agency said it would try to trap and relocate them instead.
Eleven Nubian goats were brought in to eat poison ivy at New Jersey's historic Fort Hancock this summer.
NBC 4 New York
Two kittens ran onto subway tracks in Brooklyn one day in August, and the MTA halted trains as workers tried to corral them. They became a campaign issue in the race for mayor when Republican Joe Lhota, former MTA chairman, said he wouldn't have stopped the trains for cats.
The subway kittens, later rescued and named Arthur and August, were adopted by a Brooklyn couple a few weeks later.
A 10-foot python was captured in the parking lot of a New Jersey Burger King in August after a construction crew fixing a sewer line spotted the reptile.
Julie Larsen Maher
Gus, the beloved polar bear at the Central Park Zoo, died in August. He was 27.
James Morgan
In July, a dog that became trapped on a window ledge in Brooklyn was rescued by a firefighter who won the pup's trust with treats and brought him down in a bucket truck. Full story here.
Wildlife Conservation Society
Four red panda cubs were born at city zoos, two in the Bronx and two in Prospect Park. They made their debut in November.
A 10-year-old Newfoundland alerted his family to a fire in their Westchester home in late November, and then disappeared. The family thought he ran off, but sadly found his remains in the rubble days later.
Staten Island Zoo
Groundhogs, emu chicks and lambs were all born this year at the Staten Island Zoo. The three groundhog pups born in the spring are descendants of Staten Island Chuck.
julie larsen maher
Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, died at the Bronx Zoo in April. She was 40 years old.
Last May in New Jersey, bees being shipped from Georgia to Maine swarmed out of the truck that was hauling them when the load shifted.
Signs went up around the Harlem Meer warning anyone who catches the toothy predator fish known as the northern snakehead not to throw it back. The fish eats frogs and crayfish and has the ability to live for days out of water. It's so disruptive that the state prohibits possession, sale and transport of the live fish and its eggs.
Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society
A one-horned female baby rhino was born at the Bronx Zoo this year. She was born weighing 120 pounds and could grow to 4,000 as an adult.
An animal control officer was found with more than 850 snakes at his Long Island home in September, including two 6-foot Burmese pythons.
NBC 4 New York
An NYPD K-9 who was kicked twice in the mouth while helping break up a subway brawl got a doggie police honor guard when he returned to work in June.
Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society
Two snow leopards made their debut at the Central Park Zoo in November, the first of their kind to be born there.
A fisherman at a New Jersey lake got a surprise in September when he hooked an exotic fish that's been rumored to feast on testicles. His 10-inch catch was a pacu, which is a gentler cousin of piranhas found in South America's Amazon River.
NBC New York
Patrick the Miracle Dog's abuser was sentenced to probation after admitting animal cruelty in August. She was first charged in March 2011 after the emaciated dog was found tossed down a garbage chute in Newark, N.J.
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
Two sweet-faced babydoll lambs were born in the spring at the Prospect Park Zoo.
A burly dog named Bear awakened his owner and her 9-year-old grandson after their Long Island house caught fire one early morning in July, saving them before the smoke detectors even went off.
bsanchz/Isvett Verde
A dead shark caused a stir on an N train in August. Full story here.
NBC 4 New York
The summer invasion of cicadas, which only come every 17 years, was a big hit online as viewers from around the tri-state showed us what was popping up in their yards, and shared their stories and experiences. This was taken on Staten Island in May. Full story here.
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