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Dec. 10, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Two Cheetahs Give Birth
The animal care team at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia is seeing spots this month with a cheetah baby boom. First-time mom Miti gave birth to seven cubs on Nov. 12. Although one sadly didn’t make it, five females and one male survived. Two weeks later, experienced mom Ally had a litter of four cubs at SCBI, which is affiliated with the National Zoo. Although the animal care team hasn’t yet been able to fully examine the younger cubs and determine their gender, they say all of the little arrivals are doing well. The staff is tracking how the moms and babies are doing via closed-circuit web cams in their enclosures. — Read it and see photos from the National Zoo
A new cockroach has taken up residence in New York. The bugs, which thrive in the cold, are native to Asia. They were first spotted in the U.S. by an exterminator last year at a Manhattan park, and the species was confirmed by scientists. "As the species has invaded Korea and China, there has been some confirmation that it does very well in cold climates, so it is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York,” said Rutgers insect biologist Jessica Ware. “That is in addition to its being well suited to live indoors alongside the species that already are here." American cockroaches take shelter indoors when the weather turns cold. Luckily for New Yorkers, experts say the new species is unlikely to become a major nuisance. Competition for space and food between the two species could actually lower the overall roach population, if they spend more time battling than reproducing, researchers said. Findings on the Asian species were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology. — Read it at Live Science
New research suggests that male elephants recognize the vocalizations of their rivals, and know when to fight or flee. Elephant seals are extremely competitive when it comes to mating, and their battles over females can be brutal. "If you can call at your rival and save yourself from having to fight again, that's really good," said study co-author Caroline Casey, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. That way, they can avoid "wasting all your energy and being unable to carry on and having to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the seasons." In the study, when males heard the call of a beta male, they would approach them aggressively. But when they heard the call of a male higher in the dominance hierarchy, they would flee. The study was presented at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco. — Read it at Discovery News
Veteran Therapy Dog Retires
Sambro, a beloved hospice therapy dog who was born in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is retiring from his work at the Staten Island University Hospital. While the yellow Labrador’s siblings were adopted quickly, Dennis Nelson, who owned the dog’s parents, couldn’t find the right home for Sambro. Then, he saw an ad in the newspaper asking if your pet had what it takes to be a therapy dog, and Nelson found Sambro’s calling. After becoming certified, the pup with a tranquil demeanor and friendly smile went to work, visiting end-of-life patients as well as people in nursing homes and families of Ground Zero victims. “Sometimes, people don’t want to talk to other people,” said Paula McAvoy, RN, administrative director of University Hospice. “We’ve had countless times where patients requested him to talk to. It’s so fulfilling to be able to offer this to people in need.” Nelson was at Sambro’s side for his years of volunteering at the hospice. “I would like to thank the hospital staff for the love they gave this dog. They fed him, they walked him, but no one ever even bought me a cup of coffee,” he joked, holding back tears. “I’m just so happy he was here to help.”
Piper Below took Jack in earlier this fall when she found the dog sick and lost, and he stole her heart. But when the Texas resident was taking Jack for a walk near her home on Dec. 1, he escaped, slipped through a fence and was hit by a truck — and then ran off, scared. Below panicked, and turned to social media site Reddit to ask people in the area to help look for her dog. Word of Jack’s plight quickly spread, and one Reddit user put her in touch with a large group of people involved with animal rescue in her area. Three days later, Below was at work at the University of Texas School of Public Health when she got a call from a Reddit user who’d found Jack in a grocery store parking lot. Below quickly made it to the scene and was reunited with her dog. She was full of thanks for Reddit and its Houston area users. "REDDIT HE'S FOUND!!!! AND YOU DID IT!!!!! I have to leave to take him to the vet but he seems like maybe he's ok. I COULD KISS YOU ALL!" Below wrote. — Read it at CNN’s Headline News
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