Animal and wildlife encounters in 2023 continued to capture our attention with a variety of heartwarming and thrilling stories. The year saw significant discoveries and uplifting rescue operations that highlighted the significance of interactions with wildlife.
One notable story involved the live reporting of a 15-foot python named Big Mama, who had gone missing in Chatsworth on the Fourth of July. NBC4 reporter Robert Kovacik had a close encounter with the snake while covering the story, much to the joy of the snake’s owner and neighbors.
Wildlife photographer Mark Girardeau also shared a remarkable experience after coming face-to-face with a mountain lion while hiking in the Trabuco Canyon area of Orange County. He captured the extraordinary moment when a mountain lion mother and her cub played together in the Santa Ana Mountains, providing a rare glimpse into their natural behavior.
In addition, the co-parenting efforts of Big Bear bald eagles who took turns to keep their eggs warm during a snowstorm in Big Bear showcased their resilience and commitment to their offspring. A family of coyotes with at least six pups was also spotted playing outside a Montecito Heights home, demonstrating the fascinating dynamics of wild animal families.
However, not all animal encounters were heartwarming, as evidenced by the disturbing incident of a puppy being thrown out of a moving vehicle during a police pursuit in Los Angeles County. Fortunately, the puppy was rescued and taken into the care of South LA Animal Services.
Other notable moments included the arrival of new Little Blue Penguins at an aquarium in La Jolla and the winners of the 2023 Comedy Wildlife Photography Award, which showcased the humorous and relatable side of animals.
It wasn’t all positive news, as an alarming number of dead or dying marine mammals washing ashore along the Southern California coast raised concerns about toxic algae blooms potentially causing their deaths and illnesses.
Despite the challenges and heart-stopping encounters, 2023 provided a glimpse into the diverse and captivating world of wildlife, underscoring the importance of preserving and understanding the natural world around us.