From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1999:

Gidget, 14, a grouchy tabby, fond
of dogs but not of most cats, died in her sleep
on the night of May 8, after a short illness.
Thrown from a car in Monroe, Connecticut,
at about three months of age, Gidget was rescued
and named by Easton animal lover Bobbi
Edwards, but refused to stay in Edwards’
home with her other animals. Instead, Gidget
repeatedly fled to a nearby barn. After Kim
Bartlett moved into a cottage attached to the
barn in September 1986, Gidget ate on
Bartlett’s porch, where she met her first feline
friend, Keeter, a feral; walked often with
Bartlett and her dog Zooky; and held her own
in spats with raccoons and opossums. Moving
to Shushan, New York, in 1992, Gidget
enjoyed indoor privileges but continued to prefer
the outside. One evening a coyote who
was suspected of having already eaten at least
nine feral cats made a move on her––but while
all other cats the coyote had encountered
apparently bolted, and were caught from
behind, Gidget spat in his face with a snarl
that brought the whole household running.
Whatever she did next caused the coyote to
shriek and race like a flash up the nearest
mountain, without a backward glance, never
to return, as Gidget strutted to greet her people
and other astonished cats. Mellowing
slightly as she aged, Gidget became a role
model for Alfred the Great, the most political
cat in the house, who followed behind, learning
to emulate her growl and swagger, convincing
younger cats he was a great fighter
even though he never won an altercation with
any other cat in his life. Relocating to Clinton,
Washington, in 1996, Gidget became chiefly
an indoor cat, enjoying the ANIMAL PEOPLE
circulation basket as her special sleeping
place, and acquiring from Wolf, then age six,
the honorary title “Devil of the Boss Cats.”

Damini, 72, an Asian elephant,
died May 5 at the Prince of Wales Zoo in
Lucknow, India, after a 24-day fast following
the death in delivery of her pregnant companion,
Champakali, and Champakali’s calf.
Born in the Gorakhpur forest, Damini was rescued
from poachers on April 16, 1998, who
were caught taking her to Jaipur. She was
alone at the Prince of Wales Zoo for five
months. Champakali, a tourist-carrying elephant,
arrived from Dudwa National Park on
“maternity leave” after becoming pregnant by
a wild bull. Said Prince of Wales Zoo veterinarian
Utkarsh Shukla, “Damini took up the
job of caring for Champakali instananeously.
They became inseparable in no time.” Damini
wept when Champakali and her stillborn calf
died, then entered an apparent depressive
shock. “Caretakers cooled her with a water
spray and fans as she lay under a makeshift
tent they erected of fragrant medicinal grass,”
wrote Sutapa Mukerjee of Associated Press.
“They tempted her with tons of sugarcane,
bananas, and grass––her favorites. They even
fed her interavenously.” Concluded Shukla,
“In the face of Damini’s intense grief, all our
treatment failed.”

Norton, 16, gray Scottish fold cat
of travel writer Peter Gethers, died on May 8
in New York City. “Gethers, a reformed cathater,
said he had no idea how to treat Norton
when he received the pet as a gift from an exgirlfriend,”
wrote Chelsea J. Carter of
Associated Press, “So I treated him like a
dog,” Carter quoted Gethers. “I took him with
me everywhere.” Norton’s journeys and meetings
with celebrities were chronicled in two
books, The Cat Who Went To Paris and A Cat
A b r o a d, as well as a work in progress, T h e
Cat Who Will Live Forever.

Sabrina, 23, a black leopard born
at the Lincoln Park Zoo, a favorite at the San
Francisco Zoo since age five months, was
euthanized on May 11 due to kidney failure
and chronic liver disease. Sabrina was among
the oldest of her species on record.

Icee, 13, a male polar bear moved
on breeding loan from the Cincinnati Zoo to
the Tulsa Zoo earlier this year, died on May
15 following surgery for a blocked colon.

Katiana, 7, a Siberian tigress from
the Dallas Zoo who was selected by the
American Zoo Association Species Survival
Plan to mate with Sikhote, 9, at the Cheyenne
Mountain Zoo, was instead killed by Sikhote
on May 16, in front of 20 zoo visitors. The
two tigers had been acquainted for about two
weeks. Katiana was reportedly quite submissive
toward Sikhote––so much so, apparently,
that she did not defend herself as he crushed
her neck with a 10-minute bite. He then licked
her remains. Katiana was killed 60 days after
Philip Rupert, 6, stepped through a safety
rope, climbed a 12-foot rock embankment,
leaned aganst the chain-link fence confining an
amur leopard named Andrea, and was bitten
on the head––all in the few moments while his
mother Pam Rupert was preoccupied with
snapping a photo. Colorado State Patrol trooper
George Dingfelder kicked the leopard’s grip
loose while dispatcher Stephanie Barela pulled
Rupert away. Both then used strips of Pam
Rupert’s shirt to stop bleeding from wounds
that required 30 stitches. The incidents
brought extensive review of Cheyenne
Mountain Zoo big cat facilities and methods.

Misty, 24, the last polar bear at the
Calgary Zoo, was euthanized on May 6 due to
chronic painful back injuries compounded by
arthritis. She had been given Prozac, to no
avail, to relieve stereotypical pacing. The zoo
had exhibited polar bears since 1973,
but––now focusing on African species––does
not intend to acquire more.

Nevada Star, a wild mustang who
spent six days on the run in Hanover County,
Virginia, after an April 30 escape from the
farm of Sharon Drelick, shrugging off more
than a dozen tranquilizer darts shot by animal
control officers, died on May 7 from a tranquilizer
overdose, having withstood an estimated
15 times as much of the drug as would
knock out most domestic horses.

Toshi , four months, whose unexpected
birth at the Los Angeles Zoo on
January 31 signaled the apparent failure of a
vasectomy in one of the zoo’s male chimps,
was on May 17 torn from her mother, Yoshi,
by the juvenile male chimps Ripley and Jerrad,
and was stomped to death.

Bramble, 17, star of the recently
cancelled BBC2 show One Man And His Dog,
presented by Robin Page, was euthanized on
May 19 due to conditions of age. The program,
apparent inspiration for the framing of
the climactic scene in the 1995 hit film Babe,
featured sheep dog competitions, and had a
peak audience of about eight million.

Taro, 10, an Akita who in 1994
drew global attention to legal complications
inherent in dangerous dog ordinances, died in
his sleep on May 13. Declared “potential dangerous”
by the Town of Haworth for killing a
neighbor’s dog and two other animals in 1990,
Taro on Christmas Day 1990, either scratched
or bit the lip of Brie Halfond, then age 10, the
niece of his original owners, Lonnie and
Sandra Lehrer, of Haworth, New Jersey.
Haworth officials ordered that Taro be killed
as vicious. The Lehrers sued, contending that
Halfond had provoked him. Brigitte Bardot
appealed for his life, he became a minor issue
in the 1993 New Jersey gubernatorial election,
and––after spending more than three years at
the Bergen County Animal Shelter, he was
eventually pardoned by New Jersey governor
Christine Whitman. Thereafter, Taro lived
with a different family, in Westchester County
New York, but the Lehrers soon moved to the
same vicinity.

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