While most of the Idaho Mountain Express's Year in Review issue is dedicated to the topics and people who made the news in 2011, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the major newsmakers who graced our pages and happened to be animals.
From snow leopards to pigeons, animals have been making the news all year. And though we didn't have any cats making incredible journeys this year, we did have a donkey with a prosthetic hoof, a deer with anger issues and a snow leopard needing a hip replacement.
Dolly the three-legged donkey
Dolly the donkey made headlines in July when she was the recipient of a prosthetic hoof designed by Brownfields Prosthetics and Orthotics in Boise.
Dolly had been rescued by Warm Springs resident Doro Lohmann, who found the donkey in Richfield, barely able to stand and missing a hoof on one leg that had literally rotted off as the result of an untreated abscess.
"All I could think was, 'I have to get this donkey out of here,'" Lohmann said.
After a year and a half, Dolly's hoof had healed fully, thanks to pro bono care from Hailey veterinarian Steve Fairbrother and Monte Easterday in Gooding. She had also given birth to a healthy foal named Paulina, which Lohmann said she believed was the cause of the donkey's determination to survive.
"I have no other reason for why she is still standing," she said. "Everything Dolly had went to that baby."
Bear commits auto burglary
In October, a black bear broke into a Toyota Tundra at Redfish Lake and stole a large number of horse treats that pharmacist Lorraine Malone had left in the vehicle. At first, Malone said, she thought she was the victim of a pugnacious ungulate.
"We thought, 'Geez, the deer around here are pretty aggressive," she said.
The canopy top of the vehicle had been torn away, treats scattered everywhere. But one thing gave away the culprit's identity—a paw print on the side of the truck.
Redfish Lake Lodge staff said the bear is a regular visitor to the area and neighboring campsites.
Oh deer, a vandal
A small female deer made the news in November when she crashed through the front door of Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum and became trapped inside.
"This is my 19th year here, and this is our first animal break-in," said school Principal Don Haisley.
Haisley said custodian Jose Baeza initially thought damage to the front door was caused by vandals. Turns out, the deer had broken through the doors, wandered the halls and got stuck in an entryway near the back of the school. She was reportedly jumping against the doors, smashing against the window and panic bar in an attempt to get out.
The doe was apparently uninjured and ran off after being released.
Panja the snow leopard
Panja, a snow leopard from Idaho Falls' Tautphaus Park Zoo, visited the Wood River Valley in early December to undergo a hip replacement at the skilled hands of Dr. Randy Acker at the Sun Valley Animal Center.
The 6-year-old cat had been limping for a month before an X-ray indicated he was suffering from hip dysplasia. However, Acker discovered a tennis ball-sized tumor embedded in Panja's hip tissue and muscle, which stalled the procedure.
Acker and zoo veterinarian Rhonda Aliah decided to continue the procedure, removing as much of the tumor as possible to alleviate any immediate pain.
Tautphaus Park Zoo Animal Supervisor Linda Beard said the big cat is recovering well, though it remains unknown what type of cancer caused the tumor. Beard said Panja re-entered his enclosure on Tuesday, joining his mate in the zoo's snow leopard exhibit.
"He's doing really well, considering," she said.
Katherine Wutz: email@example.com