5 More Animals That Romped Through New York

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An escaped peacock from New York’s Central Park Zoo found perching on Fifth Avenue window ledges drew attention—and international headlines—from news crews, bird watchers and well wishers last week.

The now-famous cerulean fowl, which eventually returned to the zoo on its own, got us thinking about a handful of other animals that have taken unexpected trips through the Big Apple’s urban wilderness over the years.

Photo credit: ANIMALNewYork

1. Wile E. Coyote’s Lesser-Known Second Cousin, Hal

In 2006, Manhattanites all but reenacted an episode of a Road Runner vs. Coyote cartoon, chasing a one-year-old coyote named Hal around Central Park’s famous ice rink, over the carousel, and through the woods on a two-day urban safari. Hal was eventually shot by a tranquilizer dart and captured, but not before New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was called upon to quell New Yorkers’ fears about the wayward wild dog. “This is New York,” he said at a press conference at the time. “I would suggest that the coyote may have more problems than the rest of us.”

2. Pale Male the Red-Tailed Hawk

Twenty years ago, a red-tailed hawk named Pale Male took up residency on a fancy Fifth Avenue apartment building, drawing the attention of thousands of curious New Yorkers toting telescopes. Denizens of the posh apartment, including Mary Tyler Moore, were less than thrilled about having birdwatchers’ binoculars outside their bedroom windows and decided to remove Pale Male’s nest under cover of night. Little did they know they would be sparking an international incident.

The Audubon Society, bird advocacy groups, and active-duty soldiers in Iraq all came together to demand that the nest be returned. It was, and Pale Male, along with his female mate, returned to their improbable home, where they live today. The famous hawk has since inspired an award-winning documentary—The Legend of Pale Male—three children’s books, and a recurring character on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

3 and 4. Maxine and Queenie: Renegade Bovines

Thelma and Louise? So last century. Maxine and Queenie is more like it. Both are cows that have gone on the lam in Queens and Brooklyn, narrowly escaping the fate of their cow-cohorts at a nearby slaughterhouse.

Both Maxine and Queenie were found stampeding through urban streets, tranquilized, and delivered to a farm animal sanctuary in upstate New York, where they joined dozens of other cows, sheep and goats, most of whom also made a break from the herd at the slaughterhouse. Animal control officials in New York say they usually get calls about two or three escaped farm animals per year, but more often they get calls about chickens who’ve snuck out the back door during Jewish Kapparot ceremonies—a ritual in which a chicken is sacrificed before Yom Kippur—or been dyed pastel colors during Easter. Mr. Pickles, a rooster rescued from the hard-knock streets of Brooklyn, now lives with Maxine and Queenie in upstate New York.

5. A Snake on the Loose

Just a few months ago, New Yorkers flew into a tizzy when a banded cobra escaped from its cage in the Bronx Zoo. A fake Twitter account sprang up, cracking every snake-related joke you can think of (when will the 2006 cinematic masterpiece Snakes on a Plane stop being hilarious?). The two-foot-long teenage cobra was discovered two days after its alleged jailbreak, curled in a ball in a cool corner of the zoo’s reptile house, but the fake tweets continue.

August 8, 2011 - 6:30pm
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