From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1999:
Jake, 20, a bottlenose dolphin,
died on February 3 at the U.S. Navy marine
mammal center in San Diego, after emergency
surgery for a severe stomach infection. Jake
and two other Navy dolphins, Buck and
Luther, were in 1994 retired to the Sugarloaf
Dolphin Sanctuary in Florida, where a team
led by Dolphin Project founder Ric O’Barry
and Lloyd Good III tried to rehabilitate them
for release. The effort ran afoul of internal
strife, heavily influenced by an individual
calling himself Rick Spill. An ANIMAL
PEOPLE investigation found reason to suspect
Spill was actually Bill Wewer, the attorney
and fundraiser who earlier incorporated
both the Doris Day Animal League and the
anti-animal rights group Putting People First.
PPF identified itself at one point as representing
Norwegian whalers. O’Barry and Good
were in court in mid-February 1999, fighting
federal charges for releasing Buck and Luther
in May 1996 without National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration permission.
O’Barry and Good argued that the dolphins
were illegally captured and held in the first
place. Both Buck and Luther were recaptured
within days by Rick Trout, who was originally
also part of the Sugarloaf project, but was
ousted through Spill’s intervention after clashing
with O’Barry in late 1994. Allegedly emaciated
and wounded from fights with wild dolphins,
Luther was returned to the Navy with
Jake, while Buck remains at the Dolphin
Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida.
Little Orphan Annie, age 1, a
stranded dolphin rescued on February 1 by
surfers including Brian Revak, 12, and Jacob
West, 13, of Flagler Beach, Florida, died on
February 10 at the Harbor Branch
Oceanographic Institute near Fort Pierce––and
paramedic Roy Longo, 34, drew a two-day
suspension for using a county ambulance to
help get her there for treatment.
Bob Hope, a 200-pound male loggerhead
sea turtle who had been hit by a boat,
died on January 19, two days after Austin
Wehe, 12, and his sister Christina Lane, 16,
found him drifting in the surf with a cracked
shell and two lifeguards brought him ashore.
“We protected him from the sun and kept him
wet,” Austin Wehe said. “He was covered
with barnacles, which meant his immune system
was weak. I knew we had to keep him
cool.” Experts said the treatment was right,
but the turtle was beyond saving.
Lucky, 10, the last known pool
frog in Britain, died on January 13 at
Greenwich University in Norfolk. Only one
native frog species, Rana temporaria, survives
in the wild in Britain. Still common on
the European mainland, pool frogs apparently
came to Britain at least 10,000 years ago, during
the retreat of the last European Ice Age.
Nickel, 13, featured in The True
Story of Nickel the Baby Buffalo, a recent children’s
book by Nancy Savage, died on
January 10 after a fall at Genesee Park in
Denver, his lifelong home. His 50-member
herd has occupied the park since 1913.
Pepe, 15, a goat famed for watching
passers-by from Jim and Linda Vodes’ living
room in Merrillville, Indiana, died of old
age on January 6. In 1987 more than 1,300
residents petitioned the Merrillville town council
to exempt Pepe from an ordinance banning
livestock from residential property.
Baron, 13, a Weimaraner with the
Pennsylvania State Police since 1987, died of
dehydration and hypothermia on January 11
after enduring a -18 Fahrenheit night at the
unheated State Police Academy kennel in
Hershey. Police dogs are kept at the kennel
whenever their handlers are on vacation or otherwise
away from home. The Pennsyvlania
State Police budgeted $275,000 for a new
heated kennel in 1997, to come from funds
confiscated along with illegal drugs detected
by their 15 dogs, but the allocation has yet to
be ratified by the state legislature. Baron alone
seized $3 million to $4 million, estimated his
handler, Sergeant Charles A. McCreary.
Panter, 7, German shepherd of the
police department in Muskegon Heights,
Michigan, was shot multiple times at close
range by an unknown intruder on January 9 in
the yard of his handler, Scott Sinclair. Panter,
though officially off duty, was wearing his
police collar and badge. The alleged killer, if
caught, will face felony charges.
Winkie and Pal, kindergarten and
first grade guinea pigs at Columbine
Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado,
were killed on January 22 when police
responding to an early-morning burglar alarm
sent in a two-year-old German shepherd
named Nuke to investigate. Delivering the
remains of first one guinea pig and then the
other to handler Keith Graves, Nuke went on
to nab six juvenile offenders.
Milo, 6 months, Jack Russell terrier
belonging to Alice Lombaard of Boksburg,
South Africa, died of internal bleeding on
January 24, en route home a week after surviving
an unprecedented heart surgery at Cape
Town University. Surgeon Johan Brink and
nine colleagues undertook the operation––at
their expense––to reverse an otherwise terminal
birth defect, in hopes the procedure could
also be used to save human children.
Willie, 22, albino star of Groundhog
Day festivities at Wiarton, Ontario, since
1988, died in January as one of the oldest of
his kind on record. Wiarton, staging a
Groundhog Day fest since 1956, held a controversial
public funeral for Willie, featuring a
stuffed substitute in an open coffin and a statement
from Ontario premier Mike Harris.
Chuck, 12 to 15, star groundhog at
the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green
Bay, Wisconsin, died on February 1, about
10 years after arriving as a victim of a car accident.
Aware the Chuck was in failing health,
the sanctuary held a “retirement” gathering for
him earlier on his final day.
Zhai Zhai, 28, a male panda resident
at the Tianjin Zoo in China since 1981,
except for time spent in an unsuccessful breeding
loan to Japan, died on February 5. His
keepers had introduced him to a 16-year-old
female panda, in hopes they might mate,
about one month before his death.
Ebony, 14, golden eagle star of
wildlife lectures by Phil Henderson of Ponca
City, Oklahoma, since 1986, died in January
from a fungal disease as Henderson drove him
to the Oklahoma City Zoo for emergency
surgery. The Oklahoma City Daily Oklah
o m a n credited Ebony and Henderson with
bringing about electrical line modifications
that have cut eagle electrocutions by 25%.
Helen, 6, a whitetailed deer who
was among the last living animals at the West
Rock Nature Center in New Haven,
Connecticut, was fatally mauled by dogs in
late January. The West Rock Nature Center
recently closed a wildlife rehabilitation facility,
amid allegations of mismanagement, after
the paid staff was cut from eight to just two,
and is now seeking other homes for the
remaining animals––a puma, a bobcat, a porcupine,
and various birds.
Beamer, 14, senior Dalmatian fire
dog in Houston, Texas, was euthanized due to
conditions of age on January 6. He had been
mascot of Station 70 since puppyhood.
Sizanne, 15, a female Siberian
tiger, sent to the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson
from the Knoxville Zoo in March 1997 to
enjoy a warmer climate, died during a
February 11 veterinary examination.
Suri, 16, a female white tiger who
was emblem animal at the Audubon Park Zoo
in New Orleans since 1983, was euthanized
due to cancer on January 15.
Diamond, longtime dog of former
American SPCA and World Society for the
Protection of Animals wildlife program staffer
Kathi Travers, died in February. Travers is
now volunteering at the Prince George SPCA
in British Columbia, Canada.
Kent, 16, a Bornean orangutan on
loan from the San Diego Zoo, died apparently
from a severe respiratory illness on January 31
at the Topeka Zoo. Two other orangs had died
at the Topeka Zoo within 10 months, among a
population of five, including the oldest,
Paddi, who succumbed due to chronic pneumonia
and heart disease in June 1998.