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It’s a jungle out here! 8 great Florida animal stories we covered in 2020


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – From the cute and fuzzy animals, to those who slither with scales, Florida can be a pretty wild place!

With as crazy of a year 2020 has proven to be, the stories we’ve written about alligators, pythons and more have not disappointed.

8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth has compiled, in no particular order, 8 of some of the best stories we covered involving animals in 2020.

Do you have a story that sticks out to you? Let Daisy know on Facebook or Twitter.

1. ‘Alligator at front door! Seriously:’ Gator with missing limbs removed from Tampa home

June 30

Source: Croc Encounters

At the end of June, an alligator measuring in at over 8-feet was removed from the front door of a Tampa family’s home by Croc Encounters.

The gator was missing two limbs, “probably as a result of getting in a fight with another alligator but that did not stop him from getting around,” the organization said on Facebook.

Contracted nuisance alligator trappers Karina Sura Paner and John Paner captured the gator and he now lives at their Tampa facility.

2. Florida angler breaks state record with 69.9-pound flathead catfish

Sept. 1

(Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

An angler from Santa Rosa county smashed a state record when he reeled in the largest flathead catfish ever caught and recorded in the state of Florida, according tot he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The man was fishing on the Yellow River when he hooked the 69.9-pound fish. The fish was 48.5 inches long with a girth of 38.25 inches.

The fish broke the previous record by 0.6 pounds. The previous record of 69.3 pounds was set on the same river last year.

3. Gators helping gators: University of Florida veterinarians help injured 660-pound alligator

Sept. 4

Courtesy: Sarah Carey/UF College of Veterinary Medicine

Some of the veterinarians and zoological medical team at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine helped an injured alligator after the 660-pound reptile was brought into one of UF’s animal hospitals.

The 38-year-old gator named Bob visited the hospital for radiographs to take a look at his right rear leg due to lameness, or the inability to properly use one or more limbs.

Bob is currently a resident of the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine.

4. It’s a boy — a big boy. White rhino born at Disney World

Oct. 26

In this image provided by Walt Disney World, white rhinoceros Kendi, left, shows off a baby male rhino she gave birth to Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The baby rhino was the result of a Species Survival Plan overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the responsible breeding of endangered species. (Walt Disney World via AP)

A 150-pound white rhinoceros was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park here in Florida in October.

The as-yet-named rhino was born to Kendi, who was the first white rhinoceros born at the animal theme park back in 1999. Disney says it was the 11th white rhino born at Walt Disney World.

5. Florida K-9 rocks uniform, tie for new ID badge

Oct. 22

Source: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

An Orange County K-9 got a lot of love on social media over his new ID photo in October.

K-9 Chico posed for his new ID badge and even wore a tie for the photo.

Chico is no stranger to the spotlight on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. The pup has celebrated the “pawlidays” as well as Cinco De Mayo.

6. Massive alligator eats duck hunters’ trophy in a Florida lake

Dec. 3

Video of the massive reptile snacking on a duck as some hunters watch has been shared over 14,000 times on Facebook in December.

Two men were duck hunting in central Florida when they shot the video of the gator gulping down the feathery snack.

7. Clearwater Marine Aquarium celebrates Winter the dolphin’s 15th rescue anniversary

Dec. 10

The world’s most famous dolphin celebrated her 15th rescue anniversary at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in 2020.

On Dec. 10, 2005, Winter was swimming near Cape Canaveral when she became entangled in a crab trap.

She was eventually rescued after being found by a fisherman, but lost her tail flukes during the incident and was deemed non-releasable. Winter has been living at the Clearwater Marine Aqarium ever since.

8. Florida adopters rescue 20 golden retrievers from China slaughter

Dec. 21

A rescue mission seven months in the making finally came to fruition right at the end of the year when 20 golden retrievers arrived in Florida after being saved from Chinese streets and meat markets.

Kristine Minerva spearheaded the mission with Golden Rescue South Florida. The dream was to rescue the loving group of canines from their eventual starvation or slaughter in China. The dream became a reality when the dogs touched down in Miami, just in time for Christmas.

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