HOUSTON — Houston has a way of keeping news — interesting. And this year may be the most mind-blowing yet when it comes to the critters that have been spotted around town.
We've seen it all this year — an otter spotted in Baytown, a cow taking a stroll on the freeway, and who can forget about India the tiger?
The list doesn't stop there. Below is our recap of the wildest Houston animal stories of the year.
Craziest Houston animal stories of 2021
Cow on Houston freeway
Back in April, a cow was spotted taking a morning stroll on the mainlanes of the East Freeway near Beltway 8-East.
Drivers were in arms-reach of the cow and were able to snap pics of the animal "moo-ving" his way through Houston morning traffic.
Capturing the cow was no easy task. The bovine stayed on the freeway for nearly a half-hour before getting off and taking a rest at a nearby cemetery.
This allowed a livestock team to wrangle the cow and move it to safety.
And this was not the only time we've received a video of a cow randomly roaming the streets this year. It is Texas after all!
This happened in April too...
India the tiger
India the tiger made national headlines in May after he was spotted walking around a yard in a west Houston neighborhood. But her story didn't just stop there.
Things took a turn for the worse when India went missing for a few days after Victor Cuevas, the man who was at the center of the investigation, allegedly took off with the big cat after he was seen on video leading him back inside a home.
Even Tiger King star Carole Baskin joined the hunt for India. She offered a $5,000 reward to help find him.
Eventually, India was turned over to the police, with the help of Mattress Mack's wife, Linda McIngvale, who assisted in arranging the transfer. India was unharmed and in good health. He was taken to Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.
Back in May, we were told India was adjusting fine to his new home and loves exploring the sanctuary.
Now, this is something we definitely consider a rare sight. At least two times this year, otters were spotted doing their otter things in two separate areas of Houston.
The first sighting was in September. KHOU 11 viewer David Armendariz had his camera on when he captured a romp -- yes, that's what a group of otters is called -- of otters swimming in Buffalo Bayou.
Though they're rare, otters are definitely living along the bayou. They just do a good job hiding from people, according to Kevin Hodge, general curator at the Houston Zoo.
The second otter sighting happened earlier this month in Baytown. A husband and wife out for some late night fishing saw an otter snacking on a chunk of fish near the Buddy McBride Boat Ramp off Highway 146.
We're starting to think the Houston area is trying to become the new Florida.
One city that may really be competing for "Gator Capital of the U.S." — is Fulshear.
In fact, gators have become such a hot commodity in the Fort Bend County town that it's now a ritual for a Fulshear police officer to have their picture taken with the reptile when they get their first gator call... as long as it's "selfie" size, of course, according to the department.
But the gators just don't hang around in Fulshear. Nope! And some of them aren't as lucky as those recovered by FPD officers.
In May, a driver hit a 300-pound alligator while driving 70 miles per hour on the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County.
And then there's that one time in April where a gator was caught napping on the Fred Hartman Bridge. Yep, you read that right. He was taking a nap.
The mystery of how the gator got up there is still unknown.
Manatee pulled from industrial canal
A distressed manatee was rescued from an industrial canal in Texas City earlier this month.
The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said manatees are rarely seen in Galveston Bay, but sightings occasionally happen, especially in the summer months. It can be dangerous for manatees in the winter when the water is cold.
Kitten stuck on highway
Cats getting stuck in a tree is one thing, but what about a highway beam?
Yep, in Houston, deputies and animal rescuers were called out to save a kitten who found herself trapped on a highway support beam along Highway 90 near South Post Oak.
It took six hours for the orange tabby to be brought to safety. Fortunately, she only suffered minor bumps and scrapes.
Snakes scaling the suburbs
Snakes in Houston are a common sight. A not-so-wanted sight, but we deal with it.
In September, a Houston air conditioning technician got a surprising welcome from a snake hanging out in the attic of a bank.
The tech was called to the Comerica Bank on Highway 290 to change the air filters when he came face-to-face with what looked like a 6-foot rattlesnake.
He managed to capture a photo after calling bank employees for help.
The snake had him blocked in for a while, and he ended up leaving his tools behind to get away. He eventually came back to finish the job.
We also remember the story we reported about the rat snake who slithered his way into a Fresno home. Maybe it was to escape the heat? Who knows. But the snake put up in a pretty good fight with the homeowner who was able to eventually push the snake out with a broom.
The homeowner's 17-year-old neighbor, who has a snake side hustle, later relocated the animal and took him to a park.