Pet Scoop: 200,000+ Turtles Hatch in Brazil, Man Proposes With the Help of 15 Dogs

Feb. 12, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Thousands of Giant South American river turtles hatched in Brazil's Abufari Biological Reserve.
C. Ferrara / Wildlife Conservation Society
Thousands of Giant South American river turtles hatched in Brazil's Abufari Biological Reserve.

River Turtles Still Endangered

An estimated 210,000 giant South American river turtles hatched in nests at Brazil's Abufari Biological Reserve — but despite the large numbers, the species is still threatened and endangered, as only a small number of the turtles are likely to reach adulthood. The good news is that conservationists managed to mark and release approximately 15,000 of the baby turtles. "The marked turtles will hopefully provide important data that will help inform conservation plans to safeguard this species from exploitation," said Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for the WCS Brazil Program.  In the future, the recaptured turtles will help conservationists calculate dispersal patterns and survival rates. — Read it at Discovery News

French Bulldog Lover Says “Yes”

Rob Micallef’s girlfriend is obsessed with French Bulldogs, so he decided to enlist their help when planning a romantic proposal in Brooklyn. Reaching out to a meet-up group for Frenchie owners, Micallef coordinated a group of them to gather in the couple’s neighborhood park in Fort Greene with a sign that said “Marry Me Jess.” He walked his girlfriend to the spot, and got down on one knee. To the delight of the Frenchies and their owners, she said yes. But while the crowd cheered, she added, "I'm more interested in the dogs!" — Read it at People Pets

Study: Bees Use Plastic to Build Hives

According to scientists, some bees appear to have become eco-conscious, recycling bits of plastic bags and building materials and using them in their hives. "The plastic materials had been gathered by the bees, and then worked — chewed up and spit out like gum — to form something new that they could use," said Andrew Moore of University of Guelph, one of the study’s authors. It's an important discovery because it shows bees' resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world, adds lead author Scott MacIvor, a doctoral student at York University. And it’s a bit of good news, considering most plastic waste has proven a detriment to the environment and its animal inhabitants. — Read it at Science Daily

One of the Auckland Zoo's baby bats is hand fed in New Zealand.
One of the Auckland Zoo's baby bats is hand fed in New Zealand.

Zoo Hand-Rears Endangered Bats

Two Lesser Short-Tailed Bats born at New Zealand's Auckland Zoo in November weighed just 4 grams — but the pair are now a healthy 14 grams, thanks to zoo keepers who have spent time hand-rearing them. New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM) Clinical Services Coordinator Mikaylie Wilson set up the program for the bats. "We had a portable incubator that closely mimicked a nursery in the wild, keeping them warm and secure. The temperature of the incubator was at 28-29 degrees, and we were feeding them every four hours," she said. It's the first time this threatened bat species has ever been bred and hand-reared in a zoo. — Read it at Zooborns

Cat Cafes in the U.S.?

Two separate organizations are planning to open cat cafes where people can mingle with homeless cats while getting their lattes — and maybe decided to take a kitten home along with their cup of coffee. "The cafe is a fun vehicle for getting more cats out of the shelter and adopted into great homes," said Adam Myatt, who is co-founding Cat Town Cafe in Oakland, Calif. The other restaurant, KitTea, will be opening in San Francisco by Courtney Hatt — who has already fieled calls from around the country from people wanting to come volunteer in her as-yet-unopened cafe. — Read it at Today

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