In 2012, we saw many furry stars rise, but sadly we lost some beloved animals, as well. It is always difficult to deal with the passing of a pet; remembering the love they provided can help their memory live on. These Paw Stars deserve a similar place in our hearts and thoughts as we move into the new year.
LENNOX THE DOG
Passed Away: July 11
His Memory: Lennox inspired thousands to take action after he was removed from his family in Northern Ireland. The government took possession of Lennox, claiming the dog resembled a Pit Bull. This breed is illegal in the country under the Dangerous Dog Act. As a result, Lennox was part of a two-year legal battle that tragically resulted in his death.
MEOW THE CAT
Passed Away: May 5
His Memory: Meow started stealing hearts early in the year with his extra-large build. The shelter cat was overfed by a previous owner and was on a well-publicized quest to get down to a healthy size. While Meow saw success, his life was sadly cut short by pulmonary failure. Meow's mission lives on in the pet owners inspired to help their overweight animals shed some pounds.
MILEY CYRUS' DOG, LILA
Passed Away: December 11
Her Memory: Well-known animal lover Miley Cyrus suffered a tragic loss at the end of this year. Her 2-year-old Yorkshire Terrier Lila passed away after her dog Ziggy accidentally injured the smaller canine. Cyrus reflected about the moment on Twitter, and let her followers know that it would take some time for her to overcome her broken heart.
Passed Away: June 24
His Memory: Lonesome George may have been the last of his subspecies, but he had many friends. The Pinta giant tortoise became famous for outliving the rest of his relatives, and was visited by thousands every year at his home on the Galapagos Islands. The 100-year-old animal's passing is a reminder to all humans about the need to protect the Earth's environment and creatures.
PRINCE HARRY THE PYGMY HIPPO
Passed Away: May 10
His Memory: With a face like Prince Harry's, it is easy to steal hearts. The newborn was rejected by his mother, but rallied — thanks to the assistance of several dedicated zoo keepers. After beating the odds several times, many thought Prince Harry had a long life ahead, so the hippo's fans were devastated when the animal died during surgery.
DAR THE CHIMPANZEE
Passed Away: November 26
His Memory: Dar's unexpected death shocked his caregivers at Central Washington University. They found some solace in the fact that the primate gave the scientific community so much. Dar is well-known for his advanced sign language skills and ability to communicate with humans. He will always serve as an amazing example of the bond we can form with other animals.
MERCY THE KITTEN
Passed Away: December 10
Her Memory: Almost any living thing that comes in contact with Kim Kardashian gets a moment in the press, so it was no surprise when her kitten Mercy skyrocketed to fame. The gift from Kanye West made frequent appearances on Kardashian's Instagram account, until she gave the feline to a friend due to allergies. Mercy passed soon after moving to her new home, due to a cancer-like virus often found in purebred cats.
Passed Away: March 26
His Memory: South Carolina woke up to quite a shock when a unknown creature washed up on the beach. Many onlookers called the strange-looking body a sea monster, but the answer turned out to be something much more real. A vet identified the fishy find as a large sturgeon. The photo of the aquatic creature still went viral, even with the not-so-spooky identification.
MARTY THE NYAN CAT
Passed Away: November 2
His Memory: The Internet's ultimate rainbow cat crossed the rainbow bridge this year. Marty, the cat who inspired the viral video "Nyan Cat", died due to an incurable feline disease. Thanks to technology and the Web's love for cats, Marty will always be remembered as a Pop Tart-shaped beam of happiness flying across space.
TECH XX, THE BULLDOG MASCOT
Passed Away: August 1
His Memory: Original reports about Louisiana Tech University's Bulldog mascot Tech XX claimed the dog went missing. The sad truth is that the canine passed away due to negligence that someone tried to cover up. A school employee left the dog out in sun for too long, and the animal suffered heat stroke. The upsetting news was a reminder of how important it is to look after our special friends during the summer months.
SPONGEBOB THE CAT
Passed Away: August 9
His Memory: It looked like Spongebob the 33-lb. cat was going to live happily ever after when he was adopted by a family dedicated to helping him lose weight. Unfortunately, Spongebob's life in a forever home was cut short. The 9-year-old feline passed away due to heart complications. Like Meow, this sweet soul serves as a reminder of how necessary it is to keep our pets healthy.
NATIONAL ZOO PANDA CUB
Passed Away: September 23
His Memory: The National Zoo's celebration quickly turned to mourning when their week-old panda cub passed away. The animal appeared to be healthy at birth, responding to its mother. Zookeepers were heartbroken when they found the cub dead one morning, especially since the baby was a new hope for the species' conservation effort.
THRILLER THE TIGER
Passed Away: June 28
Her Memory: Thriller is best known for her former owner, Michael Jackson. The deceased singer kept the animal as a pet at his Neverland Ranch, naming her after his hit album. Once Jackson left the ranch, Thriller went to a wildlife preserve. The tiger lived out the last of her years well-loved, with her brother in an expansive enclosure, before dying of lung cancer.
Next: Best Animal Pics of 2012
ORPHAN BABY BELUGA
Passed Away: July 9
His Memory: This hard-luck newborn quickly became an underdog story for animal lovers. The baby beluga whale was found lost and abandoned at only two days old. The Alaska SeaLife Center took the infant in and started bottle-feeding the baby. Even with this extra help, the beluga was unable to make it, but he did manage to show many the importance of protecting wildlife before his passing.