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10 animal stories that roared into the headlines in 2018




Whether they have four legs, two wings or a tail, animals have a way of nosing their way into the news.

In fact, many animal stories were among Global BC’s most read in 2018, while others dominated talk around water coolers and dinner tables.

Here’s a look at some of the animal stories that roared into the headlines this year.

The Chinatown otter

WATCH: Silver lining to Sun Yat-Sen Garden otter vs. koi battle

For nearly two weeks in November, Metro Vancouver was captivated by #Otterwatch2018.

The episode began when a hungry — and illusive — river otter slipped into Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and took up residence in the park’s pond.

From there, it began gobbling its way through the gardens’ prized — and valuable — koi fish.

50-year-old koi ‘Madonna’ killed by otter in Vancouver’s Chinese garden

The Vancouver Park Board brought in an expert to try and catch the critter, but the wily animal evaded capture — munching all but three of the gardens’ 14 koi, including a 50-year-old fish named Madonna, before slipping away on its own.

The episode resonated with the city, dividing the public into #TeamOtter and #TeamKoi on social media, spawning Chinatown Otter merch and spurring a parody Twitter account.

The mandarin duck

WATCH: B.C. has its own spectacular visiting Mandarin duck

Speaking of celebrity animals, few in B.C. got as much attention this year as the Mandarin duck.

The bright, exquisitely plumed birds are native to East Asia and not known to exist in the wild in North America so it’s something of a mystery how this one ended up in Burnaby Lake and Lost Lagoon.

‘I pinched myself’: B.C. birders living the dream, as rare Mandarin duck makes appearance

However it got there, the duck had B.C. birders a-twitter in November, with crowds flocking to the lake to try and snap a photo of the creature.

The Burnaby Lake Park Association says the bird has actually been there since last May, and others have suggested it’s been around for a full 18 months.

The duck’s celebrity came on the heels of another Mandarin duck, this one in New York’s Central Park, going viral.

The (literal) cat burglar

WATCH: Meet the Delta cat that is living a life of crime

When the news writes about cat burglars, it’s very rare that the burglar in question is a real cat.

Not so in the case of Bella, a North Delta cat that’s dedicated herself to a life of crime.

Meet the Delta cat burglar that’s dedicated to a life of laundry crime

The purr-loining puss has developed a reputation for sneaking out of owner Shawn Bell’s apartment every night, prowling the neighbourhood and returning with laundry for loot.

That’s left Bell with bags and bags of the stolen stuff — but no one to return it to. He said in September that no one has come looking for their laundry yet.

The Kits Beach shark

WATCH: Was that a small shark spotted off of Vancouver’s Kits Beach?

It wasn’t quite Jaws, but back in June, Vancouver did have a little shark moment. As in, a visit from a little shark.

Experts believe the creature, whose fin was photographed cresting the waves close to shore at Kits Beach, was a Pacific spiny dogfish.

The species of small shark is not uncommon in the deeper waters of the Georgia Strait.

Is that a shark swimming up to Vancouver’s Kits Beach? Possibly yes, and it could be in trouble

What’s unusual is for one of those creatures to come in so close to shore.

The Vancouver Aquarium suggested the animal may have been hunting or in distress.

B.C.’s giant steer

WATCH: Armstrong, B.C., home to massive steer

For a week in November, the internet went steer-crazy. Giant cows from around the globe were suddenly making headlines, after the story of Knickers the Australian cow, who was too big to be butchered, went viral.

And B.C. was no exception, adding Buddy the steer to the pantheon of giant bovines.

The massive animal is six-foot-five and weighs about 2,400 pounds.

His owner, Jim Saiko, bought Buddy six years ago as a calf with the intention of butchering him — but instead the pair bonded and became literal buddies.

No bull: B.C. home to one massive steer

Buddy is so big, in fact, that he keeps outgrowing his shelter.

However, the Buddy story may be coming to an end. Saiko told Global News he’s moving and can’t take the steer with him so whoever buys the farm may get a massive cow in the deal.

“I hope that if someone does buy my property, they’d want to keep him,” said Saiko.

‘Rescued’ wildfire dogs

WATCH: B.C. Wildfires: Owner of ‘rescued’ puppies say dogs weren’t lost

It looked like the heartwarming story B.C. needed during another brutal year of wildfires.

Five “lost” 12-week-old Maremma puppies were found and “rescued” by a BC Wildfire crew on patrol near Lumby in August.

The crew had found the dogs on the side of the road, and after calling local authorities and learning there were no houses nearby, took the dogs in.

‘Rescued’ puppies being returned to owner: B.C. SPCA

However, it turned out the dogs weren’t lost at all.

Their owner, Heidi Lang, said the dogs were actually wandering her 640-acre beef-and-sheep farm and were about half a kilometre from her residence.

The dogs were returned safely.

Bear enters 95-year-old’s pantry, she chases him out

WATCH: 95-year-old B.C. woman chases black bear out of kitchen

Anna Stady was watching TV in her home in Union Bay, near Courtenay, in August when she had an experience she won’t soon forget.

The 95-year-old said she heard a noise in the kitchen — and when she investigated, found herself face-to-face with a bear.

“I chased it out, told it to go home, and it just went part-way, and I said: ‘Go on, go home,’” Stady told Global News.

‘I chased him out’: 95-year-old Vancouver Island woman finds black bear in her pantry

The bear headed out to the woods — only to return minutes later, this time getting into the baking goods.

“It was the same bear. Only he knocked over the sugar bin, and oh, what a mess,” Stady said.

She chased the bear out once again and is rather humble about the whole story.

“It wasn’t even that exciting. I don’t know why it is getting that much excitement,” Stady said.

Pig adopted, then eaten

WATCH: Molly the pet pig adopted from the BC SPCA killed and eaten by new owners

While many of the stories on this list are cute or funny, not all of them have happy endings — including the following three.

One of the animal stories of 2018 that elicited some of the strongest response from our readers was the story of Molly the three-year-old Vietnamese potbelly pig.

Pet pig adopted from BC SPCA killed and eaten by new owners

Her story drew outrage when it emerged that she had been adopted from the BC SPCA last January, only to be killed and eaten by her new owners about a month later.

What’s more, Molly’s new owners allegedly Snapchatted photos and videos of the meat being seasoned and prepared to eat.

The BC SPCA, while upset, said the owners were within their legal rights to kill the pig so long as it was done humanely.

‘I do promise that Molly died humanely’: Owner who killed adopted pig apologizes

The owner later posted to Facebook to apologize and said he arrived at the decision to kill the pig after it became aggressive with his dogs and tried breaking through a door.

“I do promise that Molly died humanely, and it was not done for fun or for sport,” he wrote.

“I realize that what I did was wrong and I cannot fix it. I can only continue to apologize.”

J-35, J-50 and the southern resident orcas

WATCH: Orca lets go of dead calf after carrying it for 17 days

The fate of B.C.’s endangered southern resident orcas was an ongoing story throughout 2018, animated heartbreakingly by the sad fate of two members of the J-pod.

The orca known as J-35 made international headlines when her calf died shortly after birth.

Marathon of mourning ends for mother orca, seen without dead calf for first time in weeks

Rather than letting it go, she took it on an epic journey, keeping the dead calf afloat and pushing it through the water for more than two weeks and 1,500 kilometres.

A second J-pod orca, J-50, also became the focus of international attention after she stopped eating and became severely emaciated.

WATCH: Fate of ailing orca J50 still undecided

A joint effort by Canadian and U.S. scientists to try and diagnose her problem, give her antibiotics and revive the three-year-old female lasted for months, but to no avail.

J-50 was last sighted in mid-September, and after days of fruitless searching, government officials and NGOs concluded she must have died.

The loss of J-50, a breeding-age female, left the southern resident population at just 74 animals and highlighted the plight of the struggling group.

Concern over their future became a key element of a Federal Court of Appeal decision to send the Trans Mountain Pipeline back to regulators to consider its effect on the marine environment.

It also prompted new whale watching regulations in B.C., while in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee instituted a partial ban on the practice and dedicated $1 billion in funding to preserve orcas and the wild salmon they feed on.

The Yukon grizzly attack

WATCH: Victims of Yukon grizzly attack were ‘living the dream’ says friend

The most tragic of this year’s animal stories was the death of a Yukon mother and her infant daughter in an attack by a grizzly bear in November.

Valé​rie Thé​orêt and her 10-month-old daughter Adele Roesholt were mauled to death on Nov. 26 outside their remote trapping cabin northeast of Mayo, Yukon.

The child’s father, Gjermund Roesholt, made the horrifying discovery upon returning to the cabin — after himself being charged by the bear, which he fatally shot.

‘They were living the dream’: Community reels after Yukon mom and baby killed by grizzly bear

The death sent shockwaves through the community, which described the family as “living the dream” before the tragedy.

The incident put a spotlight on the region and its lifestyle but prompted a reaction from locals who said such attacks are extremely rare and that living in “the bush” is safer than the city in its own way.

Results of a necropsy on the bear have yet to be made public.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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