Pet Scoop: 17 Volunteer Drivers Bring Lost Dog Home, Two Giraffe Calves Born in Tampa

August 21, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Jennifer Koczan was reunited with her dog, Sasha, after five years.
Jennifer Koczan was reunited with her dog, Sasha, after five years.

Army of Volunteers Helps Lost Dog

When Jennifer Koczan of South Bend, Ind., got a message saying that her long-lost dog had been found in Arizona, she was “flabbergasted.” Sasha, her now 8-year-old Rottweiler, had gone missing from Koczan’s home in 2008 while she was at work. But now Koczan had a new dilemma: figuring out how to get the dog from the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix before the 5-day deadline was up. She quickly started calling friends in the area and found someone who could pick Sasha up. Then she reached out to Kindred Hearts Transport Connection, an animal rescue and relocation group. With the help of their volunteers, a plan was derived to get Sasha across the country. Her road trip started on Aug. 10, and took her through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. She then had a weeklong break with a foster in Oklahoma before continuing through Missouri and Illinois, and finally to Indiana, where she was reunited with Koczan on Sunday. The trip required 24 stops and 17 drivers who put in an hour or more each to get Sasha home. Once Sasha reached Koczan’s house, "she was like, 'I've been here before, I know all of these people.' She kept looking at me with a look that said, 'I know you. I know I know you’… It's like a blessing and a second chance," Koczan said. — Read it at ABC News

Small Prey Fish Have Unique Defense

Tiny damsel fish “make eyes” at their predators to distract them — and dramatically increase their chances of survival, found researchers at Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The fish can grow a larger “eye spot” near their tails, and reduce the size of their real eyes when they’re threatened. The result of those changes is that the fish looks like it’s heading in the opposite direction, confusing the fish that plan to eat them. "It's an amazing feat of cunning for a tiny fish," said Oona Lonnstedt, a graduate student at CoECRS and James Cook University. — Read it at Science Daily

Caterpillars Can Hop for Days in Leaf

Scientists have found that some caterpillar species have amazing jumping skills. A caterpillar that lives on the forest floors in southern Vietnam rolls itself into a sleeping bag-like leaf structure when it prepares to metamorphose into a moth. Then, it hops around the forest floor while wrapped up in the leaf for up to three days, according to researchers with the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum. "The mechanics of it are pretty remarkable," said Chris Darling, one of the paper’s authors. The researchers discovered this hopping capability after they’d collected some of the caterpillars for further analysis and stored them under their beds, only to awake to the rustle sounds of them hopping. Their findings were published in the journal Biology Letters. — Read it at Live Science

Two reticulated giraffe calves were born in June at Busch Gardens Tampa.
Busch Gardens Tampa
Two reticulated giraffe calves were born in June at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Giraffe Duo Born at Busch Gardens

There are two very tall new babies at Busch Gardens Tampa. A pair of reticulated giraffe calves was born at the park in June. Cupid, who’s 15, gave birth to a 188-pound, 6-foot tall baby boy on June 11, and Tesa, 18, had a girl who weighed in at 145 pounds and measured 5 feet 8 inches tall. The calves were both standing within an hour, and nursing within two hours. Reticulated giraffes are found in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and have a gestation period of 14 to 15 months.

Plus: In other zoo news, Washington’s National Zoo announced Tuesday that its Asian elephant herd is growing. It will receive three female elephants from the Calgary Zoo in Canada next spring. The pachyderms’ relocation is being funded by a $2 million gift from businessman David Rubenstein, who’s a cofounder of a Washington-based private equity firm. — Read it from the AP via Yahoo

Dogs Aren’t Banned From ‘Downton’ Set, Estate Says

In reaction to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail claiming that dogs belonging to the stars of the popular drama Downton Abbey are not allowed on the set, a publicist for the owners of the estate where the show is filmed says the pooches are welcome there. It does, however, sound like one actor’s pup has been up to some mischief on the set at Highclere Castle in England. "I’ve got a Border Collie who ran off and up to the part of the house you're not allowed to go to," said Ed Speelers, who plays footman Jimmy Kent. "I had to run after him and pick him up by the scruff of the neck because he was getting mud everywhere." The fourth season of Downton Abbey will air on PBS in January. — Read it at Today


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