There’s nothing like a coyote cruising down 14th Street to remind us that rats and squirrels aren’t the only animals among us. A little over a week ago in Stuyvesant Town, police tranquilized the furry intruder — the second coyote to be captured in Manhattan that month — after it was seen roaming the East Village near the Con Ed plant. It was actually pretty cute (and awake for some of its photo shoot, unlike the one seen at left). According to city officials it was relocated back into an “appropriate wilderness area.”
Alas, not all of NYC’s run-ins with nature have ended so happily. Here’s a rundown of animals who’ve recently made unlikely appearances in the urban jungle. We’ve taken the liberty of naming them.
Mucky the Dolphin and Sludgie the Whale
Crowds gathered around the Brooklyn waterway to catch a glimpse of a 200-pound dolphin in January 2013. It was stranded in the canal, which has a longstanding reputation of being polluted, for less than a day. Rescue efforts would have likely started around 7 p.m. at high tide, according to the New York Times, but it died around 6 p.m.
Aptly named Sludgie, the Minke whale met a sadly similar fate when it also swam too far up the canal. Experts thought the young whale would be OK because he appeared to be swimming normally, but he swam around the waterway for less than two days before beaching himself. His 12-foot-long skull was displayed at Gowanus’ first ever TEDx conference.
Freddy the Fisher
A fisher was repeatedly spotted scurrying down the sidewalks of a Bronx neighborhood last summer. It confounded locals and law enforcement alike, as they had never seen anything like it before. Fishers, a member of the weasel family, are vicious killers of porcupines (they flip them over and go for their exposed underbellies), but experts said they pose little threat to humans, and this one was allowed to roam free.
The Brooklyn Bridge Beast
Last summer a hairless, nearly unidentifiable animal washed belly-up onto the beach of the East River, on the Manhattan side, beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Residents thought maybe it was a giant rat. Parks officials said it was a cooked pig. One animal expert thought it was probably a small dog that had lost its fur while floating in the river. The Parks Department disposed of it before a conclusive examination could be done, so we’re just going to have to live with the uncertainty… or choose to believe it was a relative of the Montauk Monster.
Buddy the Bronx Zoo Cobra
In March 2011 the Bronx Zoo announced its World of Reptiles exhibit was short one young Egyptian Cobra, and Twitter had a hay day with @BronxZoosCobra. It was found hiding out in a nonpublic part of the reptiles exhibit, but not before it inspired Tweets like “Taking the Sex and the City Tour!!! I’m totally a SSSamantha.”
Sherman the Shark
Riders of the N Train to Queens knew a photo op when they saw it when an 18-inch sand shark mysteriously appeared on the floor of a subway car. It didn’t take long before photos surfaced of it posing with a MetroCard, a cigarette and a Red Bull. Subway rider Juan D. Cano fessed up to placing the shark there with the MetroCard (in case it needed a transfer), but didn’t take responsibility for placing the other items. Transit officials declined to investigate the incident any further because, in their words, they had “better things to do.”
Benny the Bear
Last October a woman walking her dog was surprised to find the body of a dead bear cub, its head resting on a fallen bike. The discovery puzzled experts and city officials, as bears haven’t been spotted in New York City in decades. Further examination revealed it died from “blunt force injuries” consistent with being hit by a car. Wildlife experts didn’t dismiss the idea that it had been a pet or was struck by car and then transported to the park, and were doubtful that the bear had wandered into the park on its own.
Iggie and Eek
In March 2004 Robin Sandusky was working in the theater district and ordered lunch from Guy & Gallard. She finished about a forth of her salad when she spotted a lizard head with half-open eyes and an arm attached.
Just a few months earlier, a Wall Street Journal employee found a whole frog corpse in her nicoise salad from Pret a Manger. We know you’re going for the whole French vibe, Pret, but please don’t sneak frog legs into our lunches.