Emus, wallabies and cheetahs, oh my! Chinatown otter joins B.C.’s pantheon of viral critters

Click to play video: 'Experts being called in to help capture rogue Vancouver otter' Experts being called in to help capture rogue Vancouver otter
WATCH: Experts being called in to help capture rogue Vancouver otter – Nov 23, 2018

It was a big week for Vancouver’s elusive Chinatown otter.

The slippery creature has been making a feast of the koi fish at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens and continues to elude capture, despite the Vancouver Park Board hiring a dedicated animal relocation specialist.

It’s also sparked countless puns and become a social media sensation with its own parody Twitter account (and a counter parody Twitter account for the koi) as well as an online campaign dividing the city into #TeamOtter and #TeamKoi.

But while the Chinatown otter may be the flavour of the month, it’s far from the first critter to become a viral hit in B.C.

Here’s a look back at some of B.C.’s other weird wildlife that has set the internet on fire.

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The Olympic village beaver

WATCH: Beavers blamed for tree destruction in Stanley Park, Olympic Village

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Beavers blamed for tree destruction in Stanley Park, Olympic Village – Jan 4, 2016

First spotted in April 2013, the Olympic village beaver quickly became a social media phenom.

Locals flocked to its dam in Hinge Park to snap a photo of the critter, and it wasn’t long before the beaver had a parody Twitter account of its own.

It also didn’t take long for the beaver to form a family, and babies have since been spotted in the Hinge Park pond.

READ MORE: Leave it to beavers: Toothy rodents fell dozens of trees in Vancouver

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However, it hasn’t all been sunny days with the beavers — the toothy rodents were accused of knocking down dozens of trees in 2016 to help build their lodge.

In response, the park board started wrapping the bases of trees with chicken wire to interfere with their teeth.

The downtown deer

WATCH: Downtown deer visits Global BC on location

In the summer of 2015, a young deer mysteriously appeared in Vancouver and was spotted roaming the streets of the city’s downtown core.

While police and conservation officers were unable to catch up with it, the deer lit up social media, appearing in numerous surreal photos as it trotted past skyscrapers.

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Naturally, it wasn’t long before it, too, had its own parody Twitter account.

The deer eventually relocated to Stanley Park, where the park board said it became habituated to people, approaching multiple members of the public.

Indeed, the deer happened upon a Global B.C. camera crew during a news shoot one day in August and came up to say hello.

READ MORE: Deer hit and killed in Stanley Park is well-known downtown deer

Sadly, the downtown deer story doesn’t have a happy ending. The Vancouver Park Board had expressed concern the creature had become too familiar with people and could get hit by a car.

That is, unfortunately, exactly what happened in September 2015, when the deer was struck and killed in Stanley Park near the Lions Gate Bridge.

Canuck the crow

WATCH: Who is Canuck the crow?

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Who is Canuck the crow? – May 25, 2016

No list of celebrity B.C. animals would be complete without East Vancouver’s beloved Canuck the Crow.

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Canuck is a human-habituated crow that can be easily recognized by the red zap strap around one of its feet.

It’s been spotted riding the SkyTrain, eating at McDonalds and working at the PNE but rose to true viral status when someone snapped a photo of the bird picking up a knife at an East Vancouver crime scene in May 2016 — an image that has been shared thousands of times across the internet.

East Vancouver resident Shawn Bergman, who describes himself as Canuck’s friend, has nursed the bird through recovery after an attack at a local park and through a nasty dispute with Canada Post.

More recently, Canuck has been the subject of its own fashion line and a documentary. The bird also won a Twitter-based bracket competition to be crowned Metro Vancouver’s unofficial ambassador, defeating Michael J. Fox with a resounding 81 per cent of the vote.

Lucy the emu

WATCH: Emu on the loose

Heading back in time and stepping out of Metro Vancouver, we have the story of Lucy the Emu.

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The 70-kilogram emu who, in a “Boy Named Sue”-esque situation, was actually male, managed to escape in Nanaimo in March 2014 after his owner, Tim Genner, accidentally left the gate open.

READ MORE: Emu on the run finally captured on university campus

After Lucy flew the coop, there were numerous sightings of the large bird around the region, but no one seemed able to pin him down because while emus can’t fly, they can run up to 70 kilometres per hour.

Of course, it wasn’t long before — you guessed it — a Twitter account popped up.

Lucy’s story does have a happy ending: after about five days on the run, he was captured at the Vancouver Island University and taken home safe.

The legend of the snakehead fish

In May 2012, wildlife experts and officials with the provincial government launched an intensive search of a lagoon in Burnaby’s Central Park for an invasive snakehead fish.

Snakeheads are native to Asia and parts of Africa, are predatory and are known to breed up to five times a year, raising concerns it could multiply rapidly. What’s more, some species of snakehead fish can cross short distances on land to travel from one body of water to another.

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READ MORE: SFU researchers to study snakehead fish removed from Burnaby pond

The hunt was set in motion after a park visitor recognized the near metre-long fish and posted a video of it online.

That drew the attention of local media — and hordes of curious onlookers, all hoping to spot the beast.

READ MORE: Snakehead caught in Burnaby pond not as much of a risk

In the end, the Ministry of Environment had to drain most of the pond to capture the fish, which was later studied by experts at SFU and UBC.

They determined it was a blotched snakehead and not its more aggressive (and semi-amphibious) cousin, the northern snakehead.

How the fish got into the pond remains a mystery. Snakeheads are kept for food, and the the leading theory is that someone set one of those fish free.

The Langley wallaby

A wallaby is seen in this undated file photo. Glen Fergus / Wikipedia

In February 2017, one Langley homeowner got a bit of a surprise when he awoke to what appeared to be a kangaroo in his back yard.

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It was, in fact, a wallaby — the kangaroo’s smaller cousin in the macropod family.

READ MORE: Missing wallaby found safe and sound in Langley

The creature had escaped from its owner and went on the lam for two days before being captured.

Mounties captured the little guy with a fishing net.

The Kootenay cheetah

WATCH: Cheetah on the loose in Kootenays

The mountainous West Kootenays are probably one of the last places on earth you’d expect to find a cheetah wandering the highway, but that’s exactly the situation that shaped up in December 2015.

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READ MORE: Search called off for roaming cheetah in B.C.

The Earth’s fastest creature was spotted walking along Highway 3 near Crawford Bay, about 50 kilometres northeast of Nelson, sparking an intensive hunt and concerns the creature could attack children, who were kept indoors at nearby schools.

Conservation officers called off the hunt when there were no further sightings.

WATCH: B.C. man fights to keep cheetahs

Click to play video: 'B.C. man fights to keep cheetahs' B.C. man fights to keep cheetahs
B.C. man fights to keep cheetahs – Oct 2, 2018

It turned out that the cat, one of two, belongs to Kootenay resident Earl Pfiefer who, along with Carol Plato, was charged with possessing an alien species without a permit in 2016.

READ MORE: B.C. man fights to keep his cheetahs

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The story doesn’t end there. Pfiefer applied to the province to keep the cats but was denied. In October 2018, Pfiefer took his case to the province’s Environmental Appeal Board to challenge that decision.

Pfiefer said the cats have never attacked anyone and that he wants to open a conservation awareness facility to teach people about the threatened animals.

The downtown bear

WATCH: Downtown bear released

Click to play video: 'Downtown bear released (Aired Dec., 2011)' Downtown bear released (Aired Dec., 2011)
Downtown bear released (Aired Dec., 2011) – Nov 25, 2018

In December 2011, downtown workers and afternoon commuters found themselves face-to-face with an unexpected sight: a black bear on top of a garbage truck.

The wayward bruin turned up in the heart of the downtown core, just outside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at West Georgia and Cambie streets.

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READ MORE: Bear on the loose in downtown Vancouver tranquilized

Police and conservation officers were called in and tranquilized the yearling, who was released near Squamish the following day.

Officials believe the bear may have climbed into a dumpster, which was picked up by the truck and carried into Vancouver.

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