Weird animals in NYC: The ten strangest sightings

Coyotes, boa constrictors and finback whales—turns out King Kong was just one of many weird animals to make a scene in NYC. Check out the ten weirdest encounters.

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Remember that time a tiger was found in Harlem? Or the dolphin in Gowanus? How about a three-foot rat?! Heck, that last one might be more common, but exotic creatures aren't only limited to the enclaves of the city's Central Park Zoo or Bronx Zoo. While the animals on this list may not be as cute and cuddly as others found within the five boroughs, they are still sure to amaze, or terrify.

  • 1  Tigers and gators and Harlem, oh my! (2003) 

    Remember that scene in The Hangover where the guys wake up and there’s a huge tiger in the bathroom? That wouldn’t have thrown Harlem resident Antoine Yates. According to police reports, the 31-year-old kept one in his apartment, along with a three-foot-long alligator, for as long as two years.

  • 2  Subway shark (2013) 

    The implausibility of a small dead shark making its way onto an N train invites any manner of explanations. We can only assume the critter was brought in to star in the upcoming New York–based Sharknado sequel after the filmmakers exhausted their CGI budget.

  • 3  Coyote police chase (2010) 

    New York’s Finest have plenty of experience running after criminals, but tracking down a New Jersey coyote that was first spotted in the Holland Tunnel proved to be a formidable challenge. After spending 24 hours on the loose, it was eventually captured underneath a parked car in Tribeca.

  • 4  Pee-wee’s biggest nightmare (2014) 

    When a mechanic from Finest Towing & Autobody in Gowanus noticed a moving duffel bag in a garbage can in January, he feared there might be a baby inside. Instead, they found something not so cuddly: a trio of four- to six-foot-long boa constrictors.

  • 5  That poor, poor dolphin (2013) 

    Speaking of Gowanus, its canal isn’t exactly an ideal habitat for Flippers. But biologists determined that chronic gastrointestinal ailments, not the canal’s polluted water, felled a poor swimmer after he spent a day laboriously navigating the waterway.

  • 6  Rat monster! (2012) 

    A mysterious, bloated creature washed up on the shore beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, bearing a striking resemblance to the famed Montauk Monster, which had been found on a Long Island beach in 2008. The Brooklyn discovery inspired feverish debate over just what the heck it was. A stray dog? A missing evolutionary link? Demon spawn from the pits of hell? We’re pretty sure it was one of NYC’s most notorious vermin.

  • 7  Beached whale in Queens (2012) 

    Breezy Point residents were abuzz when a rare 60-foot-long finback whale washed up on the beach last winter. Sadly, the sickly mammal (who appeared malnourished) died of a possible bacterial infection a few hours later. Gah, too bad George Costanza wasn’t around to save the day.

  • 8  Monkey jailbreak (1935) 

    The entire rhesus-monkey population of Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp Animal Park in Amityville, Long Island—some 173 primates—made a daring escape and proceeded to wreak havoc upon the town, harassing railroad workers and breaking into houses. Thankfully, they turned out not to be super smart or power hungry like their Planet of the Apes brethren.

  • 9  A lizard grows in Brooklyn (2013) 

    NYC has a long history of welcoming immigrants from around the globe, but monitor lizards might just be a bridge too far. To its credit, one four-foot-long specimen, which likely fed on rats, seemed to have adjusted well to the empty Brownsville lot where it made its home last summer before getting picked up by animal control.

  • 10  The Marcy Houses’ Ratso Rizzo (2011)  

    Jay Z may need to amend his 1998 track “A Week Ago,” in which he boasts, “I’m from Marcy / And Marcy don’t raise no rats.” Judging by the monstrous, three-foot-long furry fiend skewered with a pitchfork by a maintenance worker in the projects, that claim is just patently false.

1  Tigers and gators and Harlem, oh my! (2003) 

Remember that scene in The Hangover where the guys wake up and there’s a huge tiger in the bathroom? That wouldn’t have thrown Harlem resident Antoine Yates. According to police reports, the 31-year-old kept one in his apartment, along with a three-foot-long alligator, for as long as two years.




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