A good year for:

Bears, with a Finnish bear breaking into a garden and making off with the pet ducks, while the family were making a trip to Helsinki zoo to see the bears.

Cats, for not only did Humphrey, the Cabinet cat, return safely to Number 10 after being lost in action, but an animal hospital in Newmarket reported the successful use of contact lenses to help cats recovering from eye surgery. Some lenses were even marked with mouse symbols to make them easier to find when they fell out.

Dogs, for not only have New Zealand telephone workers been allowed to take days off when their pet dogs are sick, but 239 sled dogs in Switzerland set a new record for the largest number harnessed together.

Elephants, who may live legally in Alaska, following a change in the law to allow Alaskans to have pachyderm pets.

Frogs, with an experiment aboard the space shuttle, proving that frogs can reproduce in space. Weightlessness was also shown not to hamper tadpoles' navigation. Rufus, a red frog from Staffordshire, also had a good year: his colour is believed to be an effect of the depletion of the ozone layer and scientists are hoping to mate him to discover whether the redness is hereditary.

Gorillas, with the arrival in Cincinnati of the world's first test-tube gorilla.

Horses, with the arrival in Britain of Tail 'n' Mane, the first shampoo and conditioner for horses, "Made of 100 per cent natural products and leaves hair gleaming and shiny".

Pigeons, whom Japanese psychologists have taught to distinguish between a Picasso and a Monet. They could not, however, tell their Cezanne from their Renoir.

Sheep, particularly the one that strolled across a busy motorway in Kuwait, causing a 24-car pile-up of vehicles trying to avoid it. The sheep was later seen wandering among the wrecks.

Tortoises, as a vet in Sevenoaks, Kent, fitted a Meccano wheel and hinge to the shell of Harriet the tortoise to let her continue to move around smoothly after the amputation of a damaged leg.

A bad year for:

Flies, which have been genetically engineered to be homosexual. By tranplanting a single gene, experimenters have turned straight flies gay. It only seems to work for male flies, however.

Goats, for not only were 10 goats sacrificed by Pakistani stockbrokers in an attempt to halt the slide in stock market prices, but the share index continued falling even after they had given their lives.

Goldfish, with sunstroke striking down a fish in a pond at John Major's home in Huntingdon. An attempt was made to revive it with suncream, but there was no indication that the patient survived.

Hippopotamuses, with the world's oldest and youngest in captivity dying on the same day. Tanga, at a zoo in Munich, died at the age of 61, while a new-born hippo in Belgium was crushed to death by its mother, frightened by a storm.

Kangaroos, who have been threatened not only with a research project to develop contraceptive pills for females, but also by an Australian government committee that has recommended mass marsupial vasectomies for the males.

Parrots, with Henry the parrot banned from a bowls club in Leamington Spa for distracting players by squawking: "You're a yard short ... a yard short".

Pigs, seventy-two of whom forced a South African Airways plane to make an emergency landing after the pigs' flatulence, urine and body heat activated the fire alarm. Fifteen prize stud pigs were asphyxiated by halon gas from the automatic extinguishers.

Rabbits, seventeen of whom have had "Krazy Glue" injected into their Fallopian tubes by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who claim a new and permanent way to prevent pregnancies without side-effects.

Worms, as a junior agriculture minister recommended stamping on New Zealand flatworms as the best way of eradicating them. When Lord Aberdare then asked: "Are you sure it's effective to stamp on a worm that's already flat?" he was assured that the flatworm was triangular in cross-section.