From the Llandudno goats to sheep queuing for McDonald's: The best animal stories of 2020

The year 2020 has been rather unpleasant for many of us, for a number of reasons.

The daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, the climbing death toll - it has all dominated headlines for the last nine months.

But in amongst the bleakness of some of ITV news' coverage this year, there have been stories that have lifted us, delighted us, and made us laugh.

Many of those stories, which attracted global attention, have been about the antics of runaway goats, mischievous marsupials and some curious sheep. Here are some of the most viral animal stories from ITV Wales this year.

The runaway wallaby

A wallaby was spotted on the loose in Neath

Back in May, retired professor Duncan Lewis was woken up by the sound of a van in his quiet cul-de-sac in the middle of the night.

When he woke the next day, he checked his CCTV and to his surprise, spotted a wallaby hopping along his driveway in Cadoxton.

The footage appears to show a police officer wearing a high visibility jacket, and holding a torch, in pursuit of the wallaby.

This runaway wallaby was caught on CCTV on a residential street in Neath

South Wales Police confirmed officers did indeed capture a wallaby in Cadoxton on the night in question and returned it to the rightful owner.

The mystery of the wallaby, who it belonged to, how far it had travelled, was later explained after its owner gave an interview to a local newspaper.

Jonathan Hale said he named the runaway pet Hilts - after Steve McQueen's character in the film The Great Escape. Read more about Hilts and his mischievous behaviour here.

First eastern black rhino is born in Wales

An eastern black rhino is one of the rarest animals in the world Credit: Folly Farm

Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo welcomed a very special addition in February.

A critically endangered black rhino gave birth to a calf following a breeding programme - the first of its species to be born in Wales.

The farm in Pembrokeshire named the calf Glyndŵr in recognition of its founding director Glyndŵr Williams.

The new calf is one of only an estimated 40 eastern black rhinos to be born in the UK in the past 20 years.

Sheep hungry for a Big Mac

The sheep were caught on camera crowding around the closed outlet

During April's lockdown, a flock of sheep took advantage of the quiet streets when they were spotted outside a McDonald's restaurant in Ebbw Vale.

The sheep were caught on camera crowding around the closed outlet.

Andrew Thomas, who shared his picture on social media, joked: "Even the sheep in Ebbw Vale are having McDonald's withdrawals."

Police dog impresses on first day on the beat

The pair covered a large distance in the hour-and-a-half search to locate the missing woman and baby. Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

In August, Dyfed Powys Police were keen to spread the word about one of their newly-trained police dogs.

German Shepherd cross Max was on his very first shift helped to track down a missing mother and baby who were at "significant risk of harm".

Max and his handler PC Peter Lloyd, from the Dyfed Powys Police dog training unit, found the two on the edge of a steep ravine after an extensive search.

"Max remained focused throughout the long search and he proved invaluable when he reacted to the call for help which resulted in us locating them", PC Lloyd said.

Greedy dog eats own lead

Max fancied a snack during the car ride, but his owners hadn't banked on him guzzling his own lead. Credit: Vets Now/PA

Greedy dog Max had to be rushed to the emergency vets after eating his entire lead.

Seven-year-old Labrador Max scoffed the lead while his owners weren't looking during a short car journey, leaving nothing but the metal end.

When owners Brian and Christine Hillman realised what had happened, they sought treatment from an emergency clinic in Newport.

There, a team of specialists worked quickly to recover the lead, which Max had chewed into neat strips.

Ms Hillman, 54, said that although the hungry hound has been known to chew on items of clothing, he had never before eaten anything he shouldn't have.

"We know to keep an eye on Max as he is prone to getting hold of things and having a good chew," she said.

The famous goats of Llandudno

The goats are usually found on the Great Orme

Just a few days into the first lockdown in March, a herd of wild goats were spotted taking advantage of the quiet town of Llandudno.

The mountain goats, which normally spend their time on the Great Orme, were seen trotting out in front of cars, running through the streets at night and nibbling flowers in people's gardens.

The goats can venture down from the mountain but had never been this far into the town before

Their antics became a popular tourist attraction and the council had to intervene to ask people not to travel there as it was not considered an essential journey.

The story was shared so many times on social media, that it caught the attention of American TV presenter and celebrity Ellen Degeneres.

The US comedian and talk show host retweeted a video shared by ITV Wales showing the goats causing mischief, chewing plants and hedges and running into the roads.

The animal lover wrote: "This is the first place I’m visiting after this."