Bobby, the Wonder Dog
In 1923, Bobbie travelled with his family from Silverton, Oregon to Indiana. During the vacation, Bobbie was separated from his owners and got lost. After an exhaustive search, the family could not find their dog and was forced to return home to Oregon. Six months later, Bobbie appeared on the doorstep of his home in Silverton. He was extremely skinny, dirty and weak. His feet were worn to the bone and Bobbie had walked 4105 km across the United States to return home.
Congo the Artist
Congo was a chimpanzee considered the greatest animal painter in history. He was born in 1954 and produced about 400 drawings and paintings. Even Pablo Picasso was a fan, with one of his paintings in his studio. Congo was a natural artist, understanding the notion of color balance and scrubbing. If his art was removed before he considered it complete, he would throw a fit. While if he considered one of his drawings finished, he would refuse to continue working on it. In 2005, three of his paintings were included in an auction alongside works by Renoir and Warhol fetching over US$26,000.
Cher Ami was a pigeon that served the US Army during World War I. In the battle against Germany, 500 men were trapped on a hillside without food or ammunition. After two failed attempts to get help, Major Whittlesey dispatched Cher Ami. The German troops were aware of pigeons’ messenger capabilities, so they constantly looked to shoot them down. His two partners were killed instantly, but Cher Ami escaped, flying through raining bullets and eventually getting shot. But, instead of giving up, she flew for 25 miles with a bullet in her chest. When she arrived, she was blind in one eye with one of her legs dangling. But the note she carried helped save 194 men’s lives.
Unsinkable Sam was a remarkable cat who managed to survive three shipwrecks during World War II. The first sinking ship he survived was the Bismarck, downed in a sea battle 1941. The only survivor, he was picked up by the British battleship, the HMS Cossack which was in turn damaged by a German torpedo later that year. Sam survived the explosion and was brought ashore at Gibraltar. He was then transferred to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which had coincidentally also been involved in the original Bismarck fight. It too was torpedoed. Sam was found floating on a plank and described as “angry but quite unharmed.”
Mike the Headless Chicken
Mike was a Wyandotte chicken that lived 18 months after his head was largely severed. On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen chose a cockerel named Mike. His axe missed the jugular, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact so Mike was still able to balance on a perch and walk clumsily; even attempting to preen and crow. After the bird survived, a surprised Olsen decided to care for Mike, feeding him via an eyedropper.
In 1925, Jim was born in Louisiana and became famous after it was determined that he could perform amazing acts. On command, Jim could go into the street and locate a car by make, color and license number. In a crowd, Jim was able to identify the “man who sells hardware,” the “man that takes care of sick people,” and the “visitor from Kansas City.” He could understand instructions in any foreign language, shorthand, or Morse code. Jim also displayed psychic ability. If asked, he could guess the sex of an unborn baby. He picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby seven years in a row and also predicted the Yankee victory in the 1936 World Series.
Huberta the Wanderer
Huberta is one of the most famous hippopotamus in South Africa’s history. In November 1928, Huberta was living near a waterhole in the St. Lucia Estuary when she embarked on a 1600 km journey to the Eastern Cape. The voyage took over three years, captivating the masses. She crossed roads, railroads and rivers – eating her way through parks, gardens, farms and even trampling over golf courses. Huberta settled at the mouth of the Mhlanga River for several weeks where people would visit her with treats. She then traveled south through Durban stopping at a beach and country club. One month after arriving in East London, Huberta was killed by a group of hunters who were subsequently tracked down and arrested.
Ming, the clam
Ming (c. 1499 – 2006) was a specimen of ocean quahog clam, found off Iceland’s coast in 2006 and whose age was calculated by counting annual growth lines on the shell. At 507 years old, Ming was the oldest animal ever discovered. When Ming was born, Columbus had just discovered America. Letterpress printing revolutionized Europe. Martin Luther was 16 years old. At 119, the Thirty Years’ War started. At 300, Napoleon seized power in France. When World War I started, Ming was already over 400 years old. In 2006 it was over and the British scientists who found her retired her to a lab freezer.
Marocco the Horse
Marocco the Dancing Horse was so famous in 1591 in the United Kingdom, that he was immortalized in Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labours Lost”. His abilities included counting coins by stamping his hoof, dancing on two or four legs, and even bowing to the Queen. He was also thought to be psychic. This, however, is the skill that nearly cost the horse and his owner their lives when they were tried for witchcraft and condemned to death. The judge was apparently moved when the horse knelt in front of him to plead for his owner’s life, however, and both were pardoned.
Clarence the Sparrow
In 1940, Clare Kipps found a “crippled” baby sparrow on her front porch, took him in and named him Clarence. During the London blitz, Clarence became a minor celebrity in his local bomb-shelter with card tricks, pretending to read the paper, and remarkably, impersonating Hitler: The sparrow stood on a tin can, raised his right, slightly injured wing in the Hitler salute, and first began to softly chirp. He then increased his volume and furiousness to a violent outcry, then lost his footing apparently, dropped off the can and mimed a swoon.
Koko, the Talking Gorilla
Koko is a female gorilla who is known for having learned more than 1,000 signs from a modified version of American Sign Language. Her trainer simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. Reports state that Koko understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs. She is also the only known gorilla who passed the mirror test. To the question: “What is death?” Koko responded with three characters: “Comfortable - cave - Goodbye”.
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