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The Animals of Summer 2008

Oh, you hairy, beaky, chubby, adorable, little, terrorist sweeties, you.
Photo: Clockwise from to left: Graydon Sheppard, Alanna Nevitski Newscom, istockphoto, Getty Images and iStockphoto, Getty Images, Getty Images

During summer, journalists are normally starved for news. There are no scandals, local and national politics are on hiatus, and all of the celebrities have left the country. In this kind of environment, little quirky stories receive the kind of national attention that is normally swept under the rug. But this summer has been different. We’ve had Madonna and A-Rod! Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook! Barack Obama and John McCain and Hillary Clinton and Trubba Bubba! John Edwards! There’s been plenty to write about. And yet, the usual offbeat summer stories have still caught the nation’s attention. Why? Because they have great characters. Why are the characters so great? Because they’re not human. It’s August, we’re tired of people. This year, they’ve only let us down. Give us more animals!

Here are our favorites:

Rocco the Beagle

Rocco, the Found Hound.
Rocco, who went missing from the Villacis family household in Queens five years ago, wriggled into our hearts in July, when he was found in Georgia, of all places, and returned to his family of origin. “Every night I would wish, ‘Please Rocco, come home,’” 11-year-old Natalie Villacis told the Post “and now that wish has come true.”
Where is he now? Funny, we haven’t seen any follow-up stories, so for all we know Papa Villacis dropped Rocco off on the side of the highway. Again.

Oscar the Coyote

Oscar, the Baby Coyote.
Early in July, picnickers spotted a coyote wandering around in Van Cortland Park, near Horace Mann. But nobody screamed or panicked, because it was a six-month-old, nine-pound baby. Aw! Animal Care and Control said that he probably got separated from his litter. At first they tried to name him Van Cort, but that was apparently too unwieldy, now he’s called Oscar.
Where is he now? Oscar resides at the Star Foundation, an animal rehabilitation center, in Long Island, which has helped many celebrity animals cope with the injury, loss, and fame.

Prince Chunk

Princess Chunk, the Fat Cat.
This 44-pound cat, found wandering around New Jersey, captivated a nation a couple of weeks ago when it rolled onto the front page of the New York Post. Soon Princess Chunk, as the shelter that took the cat in called her, was having its nethers examined on Live With Regis and Kelly. Usually you have to make a few albums before that happens.
Where is he now? Read the fairy-tale ending here.

Montauk Monster

Monty, the Monster of Montauk.
July 29, 2008, was the day we first locked eyes on the Montauk Monster, and we didn’t look away for close to a week. Even when we weren’t sitting at the computer, we couldn’t get away from it: Every time we heard someone gasp, “God, what is that THING,” we knew they were talking about him. We saw his chunky haunches in dogs gallivanting around parks, his distressed grin in the tanned, leathery faces of men in bars, his sun-damaged skin on our own aging faces. And yet, after all that staring at it, we never did figure out what it was. Many theories were floated, but none of them really had the right ring of truth. And in the absence of a body, all we have is the photograph. And our nightmares.
Where is he now? Unknown.

Terror Goats

The Goats of Terror.
Last week, a bunch of goats sneaked, unnoticed, under the fence into a heavily guarded, highly restricted area at the base of the Verrazano Bridge, thought to be a terrorist target. There, they calmly grazed until being spotted by security guard. The tabloids thought these “weapons of grass destruction” were just hilarious. We knew better.
Where are they now? We can tell you where they should be, which is Gitmo.


The Cloned Spawn of the Pit Bull Booger.
This week, a totally great story about Bernann McKinney, a North Carolina woman who cloned her beloved pit bull, Booger, into five adorable puppies (pictured), became the BEST STORY EVER when it was discovered that said woman was actually Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who was arrested in 1978 after kidnapping a Mormon missionary, chaining him to a bed with mink handcuffs and raping him: “I loved him so much that I would ski naked down Mt. Everest with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to,” she said in British courts.
Where are they now? Let’s hope at a kennel club, getting registered for new names.

Anderson Pooper

Anderson Pooper.
Okay, so we may be the only people who are obsessed with this feline silver fox. But anyone who can spin circles around the real Anderson Cooper’s 360 is a hero to us.
Where is he now? In Canada, licking himself, we hope.

The Animals of Summer 2008