Most animals aren’t the Golden Retriever from Air Bud. They don’t make sick shots to win high school basketball games or have game-winning catches as the school’s “golden receiver.” But that doesn’t mean every animal’s happy on the sidelines!
These non-humans weren’t content chasing tennis balls, howling at the moon, or burying their nuts before a long winter season. Rather, these highly trained and immensely talented animals wowed audiences by playing sports and revealing hidden talents, even breaking a few records along the way…
1. Triton the Lion: At the Johannesburg Zoo, spectators often gathered around to watch trainers toss a soccer ball into the lion den. There, an 11-year-old white lion named Triton waited to show the crowd his skills.
With the ball in his enclosure, Triton turns into a playful kitten chasing down a ball of yarn. He earned himself the nickname Lion-el Messi because let’s face it, he definitely had the dribbling abilities to play forward for FC Barcelona.
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According to trainers at the zoo, Triton’s dedication to soccer trumped any need for friends. He always preferred playing with his ball over spending time with the 7 female lions in his enclosure!
2. Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel: In 1978, skating rink owners Chuck and Lou Ann trained a squirrel named Twiggy to water ski — as a joke. A year later, a boat show organizer booked the squirrel for a gig. Crowds loved him.
Years later, Twiggy #4 — the great-grandson of the original squirrel trained to water ski in a bathtub — still captivated audiences. He even made appearances in the hit films Dodgeball and Anchorman. But he had competition…
3. Queenie the Water Skiing Elephant: Billed as the world’s only water skiing elephant, the Asian giant wowed audiences at county fairs and circuses in the 1950s and ’60s! “She thoroughly loved skiing,” her owner said.
4. Soaring Cindy Jumps: Owners Kathy Conroy and Kate Long of Miami, Florida, started training the greyhound’s strength, agility, and leaping skills just months after her birth. Soon, she had serious skills — but just how serious?
Well in August of 2003, at just three years old, she attempted to break the Guinness World Record for highest jump by a dog, which stood at 63 inches. She jumped an incredible 66 inches…then jumped 68 inches three years later!
Inside Dogs World
5. Pisco the surfing alpaca: Peruvian surfer Domingo Pianezzi trained Pisco the alpaca to surf. Why? Well, “when I was at a competition in Australia,” he said, “I saw people surfing with kangaroos and koalas.” This made the champion surfer a bit jealous.
“So,” he continued, “I thought that, as a Peruvian, it would be interesting to surf with a unique animal that represents Peru” — and no animal symbolized his country better than this furball. Domingo trained other surfing partners, too…
Domingo taught children to surf and shredded waves in worldwide competitions, but he also made time to teach a dog, a parrot, a hamster, and a cat to surf, too! None of his other partners, though, were quite as skilled as Pisco!
6. Happie the Skateboarding Goat: In March 2012, this Nigerian dwarf cross goat rode her skateboard for 25 seconds straight, covering 118 feet before crashing into a parking barrier. This set the world record for “Farthest Distance Skateboarding by a Goat!”
“She figured out how to get on [the skateboard] and then I was just like, ‘Whoa, this is amazing,'” Happie’s owner Melody Cooke said. So the 18-year-old trained her goat to ride the pavement by using treats.
7. Rosie the Ribbiter: In 1981, this jumping frog shattered the Guinness World Record for frog long jumping, nailing a 21-foot leap. Yep, she jumped about as far as a two-story building is tall.
8. Dog-Riding Monkeys: No NFL halftime show will ever amount to the magic of monkeys riding dogs. At times, these mysterious characters captivate crowds more than the games themselves…
In 2015, for instance, during a horrendously boring Monday Night Football game between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals, dog-riding monkeys burst on to the field at halftime and herded goats. For the first time that night, the crowd went wild.
9. Norman the Scooter-Riding Dog: After this Briard learned to sit while waiting in the airport, his owner knew he was smart — so she trained him to ride a scooter. In 2013, he set the record “the fastest 30 meters on a scooter by a dog.” A year later, he set another…
Yup, in 2014, Norman broke the record for “fastest 30 meters on a bicycle by a dog.” “Norman basically thought he was one of the kids,” his owner Karen said. “Whatever they did, he wanted to try.” He loved both the scooter and the bike.
In 2017, however, the lovable canine faced a new challenge: cancer. But after raising $23,000 for treatment through GoFundMe, the unbelievable dog conquered that obstacle, too! By the end of the year, he was on the mend.
While some eccentric animals dazzle us with their stellar athletic abilities, others have more creative talents, which often involve a paint brush and a canvas. Their MoMA worthy work will have you gawking in awe!
10. Elephants of Thailand: Artistically gifted elephants who have been abandoned or rescued frequently end up at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Thailand. There, they use their trunks to paint gorgeous landscapes.
11. Jumpy: Omar von Muller is this pup’s owner, and the two of them make an awesome artistic team. He gives careful instructions to Jumpy, then the trained pooch grabs a brush and gives each piece of work his all.
12. Dagger: When artist Yvonne Dagger adopted this dog he was already smitten with painting. He attended the Canine Companions for Independence School where he was trained to be an assistance dog…
What no one expected was that the school would also teach him skills in the fine arts! He quickly became a skilled painter. He’s sold over 150 paintings and even appeared on The Rachel Ray Show.
13. Metro Meteor: When this horse developed knee issues, artist Ron Krajewski changed his life. He helped the horse raise enough money to treat the disorder, and now Metro’s the best-selling painter in Pennsylvania.
14. Grizzler: The camera company Nikon helped this dog become a photographer by strapping a lens around his neck. The camera had a sensor that snapped when his heart rate increased, leading to lots of energetic photos.
15. Bowerbirds: Members of this bird species are the natural artists of the animal world. To entice mates, males will collect all sorts of colorful trinkets and scatter them around their home.
16. Beluga whales in Japan: At the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama, Japan, employees have helped many of their beluga companions discover their artistic side through the aquarium’s art program.
17. Mshindi: Unfortunately this rare black rhino passed away, but he was a huge hit at the Denver Zoo, where he painted with the help of his trainer, Christine Bobko. He also learned to sit on command and play fetch.
18. Towan: This 48-year-old orangutan had a sketchpad where he created beautiful works of art using different tools such as toothbrushes, crayons, and chalk at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
19. Marsha: In 1999, this black rhino arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo ready to show off her painting skills. Throughout her stay at the zoo, she used her work to raise money for conservation charities.
20. Cooper: This popular pooch has his own YouTube channel called Super Cooper Sunday, and he has 3.5 million loyal subscribers! For Mother’s Day, he rolled around in blue paint to create a motherly masterpiece!
21. Lea and Max: Two sea lions from the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, discovered they loved to paint thanks to their trainer Jen DeGroot. Both animals were featured in Fur in My Paint, a book highlighting animal artists.
22. Maple: This dog may not display her talents on a canvas, but her bongo skills are second to none. One half of the musical group Trench and Maple with her owner, she rose to fame via Vine, and the community embraced her instantly.
23. Ella Fitzgerald: This canine does a little less drawing and little more critiquing. Her owner, artist Julia Powell, paints pictures and her pooch plants herself right in front, giving them a thorough inspection.
24. Cole and Marmalade: The owner of these two Pablo Paw-cassos put paint on canvas and the cats went to town. These adorable felines have earned one million YouTube subscribers for being awesome little artists.
25. Puffer fish: The intricate sand formation on the right side of this picture is the work of a Japanese puffer fish. The male fish flap their fins to create these “ocean crop circles” that reach up to seven feet in diameter.
26. Brent: A former lab chimp named Brent entered an art contest put on by the Humane Society of the United States. He won first place, taking home $10,000! He ditched the standard paintbrush and used his tongue to create the winning masterpiece.
27. Cheetah: This chimp entered the same contest as his primate friend Brent, and he took home second place. Jane Goodall, the world famous chimp researcher, actually liked his picture more than Brent’s!
28. Peter: This four-year-old West African chimp’s art was debuted at a 1964 art show in Sweden. However, no one was told it was the work of an animal; it was a journalist’s idea to give Peter a brush, have him create art, and then see if self-proclaimed art critics could tell the difference.