Paws to revisit 2021’s top 9 animal stories

ORLANDO, Fla. — The end of the year is always a grrreat time to paws and reflect on the past 12 months.

Channel 9 herded together our top nine favorite animal stories from 2021. Sink your claws into them below:

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When turtles fly: Rehabbed sea turtles flown to Kennedy Space Center to launch new lives in the Atlantic

Three dozen rehabbed sea turtles earned their wings when they were flown from the Northeast to the Space Coast to launch new lives in the Atlantic.

Officials said “Turtle Fliers” from the organization Turtles Fly Too coordinated the rescue flight.

The turtles, mostly the endangered Kemp’s Ridley species, were rescued from the cold waters of New York and Cape Cod, Massachussetts.

Click here to read more.

Sea turtles share ‘kiss’ on camera during Florida powerboat race

“Kissing cams” are common sights during a baseball game, with couples smooching while fans howl with delight. Apparently, even turtles are getting into the act.

Police in Florida captured a photograph of two sea turtles “kissing” during the 36th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix boat races.

Read the full story here.

Pet Alliance continues their mission after fire decimates shelter

Employees of the Pet Alliance animal shelter worked long days and nights after a fire killed more than a dozen animals.

Rebuilding and recovery efforts are underway, and Pet Alliance said they would not have been able to recover so quickly if it wasn’t for the community’s help.

Donations kept pouring in, and animals found their “furever” homes.

The public veterinary clinic, business office and shelter have been written off as a total loss after the fire. Firefighters managed to rescue 45 cats and 26 dogs from the burning building. Sadly, dozens of cats died in the fire.

Read more here.

Brevard Zoo collecting donations to establish dedicated manatee rescue team

Brevard County sees nearly three times as many manatee rescues and deaths as any other county in Florida, according to the Brevard Zoo.

In response, the zoo has launched a plan to help preserve one of Florida’s favorite creatures.

The zoo is trying to raise $30,000 to establish its own team with the necessary equipment and personnel to take the lead in area manatee rescues.

Click here for the full story.

Disney welcomes baby white rhino to Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team has received what it calls “one of the best gifts of all” this holiday season.

In November, a white rhino was born at Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

The calf marks the third white rhino born at Animal Kingdom in the past 13 months, and the 13th white rhino born at Walt Disney World Resort, which helps in the conservation of the near-threatened species.

Click here to read more.

Brevard Zoo to build new world-class aquarium

The Brevard Zoo has plans to build a world-class aquarium and conservation campus that will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Port Canaveral every year.

Port commissioners approved the development agreement, but there is still a lot of money that needs to be raised for the project.

The Brevard Zoo is now planning a three-year fundraising campaign for the new $85 million aquarium.

Read more here.

‘Just fell in love with her’: Firefighter adopts cat he rescued from Pet Alliance fire

As rescuers worked through the night and morning to save as many cats and dogs as possible from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando fire, one firefighter found love — feline love, that is.

Orange County firefighter Brett Maneri was one of dozens of first responders to rush toward the burning building to contain the flames and hurry cats and dogs away from the structure.

He adopted one of the cats he rescued, a brown and orange marbled Tabby named Mia.

Read the full story here.

Central Florida first responders help rescue kitten, puppy and alligator

Kittens, puppies and alligators — oh my! Central Florida first responders were busy rescuing animals from precarious situations.

Within the same week, Brevard County firefighters helped rescue a puppy that was stranded across a water-filled ditch, and Polk County deputies responded to two different animal-related calls: one involving a kitten and the other involving an alligator.

Click here to read more.

Apollo & Boba Fett: Hearing-impaired dolphin, turtle with spinal injury find new home

A bottlenose dolphin with hearing loss and a green sea turtle with a spinal injury, both rescued and rehabilitated by SeaWorld, are finding a new home at a Florida aquarium.

SeaWorld officials said Apollo the bottlenose dolphin and Boba Fett the green sea turtle were both determined to be unfit to be returned to the wild due to their chronic health conditions.

Read the full story here.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.