Break out those binoculars and set your peepers a’ searchin’ for the city’s surprising oddball inhabitants…
1) The Hound of Hackney
In 2012 a concerned resident snapped pictures of a huge, terrifying, black, hairy animal prowling Hackney marshes. It was, locals said, as dark as hell, as big as a man and moved
with a weird shambling gait. Werewolf panic was poised to sweep the borough – until the mystery creature was identified as a four-year-old black Newfoundland dog belonging to the drummer out of ’90s post-Britpop band Kula Shaker.
2) The Primrose Hill Predator
These slinky Russian immigrants love rats, which is why they recently moved to NW1. And no, we’re not talking about the oligarchs’ wives. A small population of zamenis longissimus, a mammal-eating snake which grows up to 6ft 6in long, is now breeding in the undergrowth alongside Regent’s Canal. Unlike billionaire Wags, these predators hate public displays and are never, ever venomous.
3) Ninja terrapins
Hit ’90s kids’ TV series ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles’ made a generation believe that ‘Leonardo’ and Michaelangelo’ were crimefighting turtles trained in the art of ninjutsu by an anthropomorphic rat. Kids bought terrapins as pets then dumped them when they outgrew the series. They murder the local pondlife, and have had to be forcibly removed from places like Clissold Park and Holland Park. If you spot one, report it to the arc trust.
4) Olympic Park River Monster
Since 2005, several conservationists and ramblers on the river Lea have reported seeing swans and geese being ‘taken’ from below by a monster from the deep. But what is it? Suspects includes an alligator or python (as suggested by the Daily Mail); al-Qaeda in a submarine (thank you,Vice) and an obese escaped carp called Darren (the Fortean Times). Our money’s on the local freegans.
5) Escaped parakeets
Their exotic green plumage brings a touch of glamour to London’s skies, but these feathery Himalayan natives are taking over, from Richmond Park to Hampstead Heath, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Okay, we exaggerate, but the birds, thought to be the descendants of escaped pets, have been known to steal food from garden feeders. Worthy of an Asbo (anti-social bird order), if they weren’t so cute.
Have your pick of London’s park’s here.