Pet Scoop: 7-Year-Old Girl Saves Stuck Puppy, National Zoo Hand-Rears Sloth Bear Cub

March 21, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Nina Boyett, 7, crawled under an old barn to rescue a 10-day-old puppy.
Nina Boyett, 7, crawled under an old barn to rescue a 10-day-old puppy.

Girl Rescues Pup From Under Barn

When Nina Boyett and her aunt discovered a 10-day-old puppy under an old barn in Fort Worth, Texas, the 7-year-old girl didn’t hesitate to help. Nina shimmied into the tight space, crawling under several beams where an adult couldn’t fit. The puppy was the only one in her litter of 10 to survive. Nina’s aunt and a local rescue group were able to get the mom out safely before the second grader crawled in to save the pup. Nina had one question before she emerged from under the barn: “Can we keep it?” The little girl named the Australian Shepherd mix Princess Nina, and the puppy is recovering well. — Watch it at NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

Cuckoos’ Smell Helps Keep Predators Away

Mooching cuckoos sneakily lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, often leaving carrion crows to raise their young. But a new study finds that young cuckoos at least return the favor by helping to protect all of the babies in the nest. Researchers in Spain found that young cuckoos give off a noxious substance that repels predators like feral cats or birds of prey from attacking the nest. The findings suggest that the cuckoos have a mutually beneficial relationship with the crows. The study was published in the journal Science. — Read it at Live Science

350-Pound Lion Gets Dental Help

Africa needed a little dental work, but it’s not easy to take care an adult male lion’s teeth. Africa was born at Tiger Haven in Tennessee not long after his pregnant mom arrived at the facility 18 years ago. "He's had an issue with his teeth most of his life, probably from poor nutrition to the mother before we got her," said the sanctuary’s director, Mary Lynn Haven. For the past several weeks, Africa has been suffering from a toothache, so he was sedated and brought to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a checkup and a replacement filling. “We're hoping that's going to make him feel better," said Dr. Ed Ramsey. "Hopefully he'll recover and live several more years for us," said Haven. — Watch it at Tennessee’s WBIR

A keeper holds the sloth bear cub at 1 month old at the National Zoo.
Tallie Wiles, National Zoo
A keeper holds the sloth bear cub at 1 month old at the National Zoo.

Keepers Care for Sloth Bear Cub

Keepers, veterinarians and nutritionists at the National Zoo have stood in as surrogates for the mother of a sloth bear cub born on Dec. 29. The animal care team says the decision to remove the cub from her mother likely saved her life. Khali gave birth to three cubs, and ingested the first one 20 minutes after the birth. The zoo says it’s not unusual for the bears to do this if the cub or mother is compromised in some way. But a week later, she did this with a second cub, and then spent several hours away from her remaining cub. At that point, the team stepped in to remove the cub, and rushed her to the zoo’s veterinary hospital. Keepers stay with the cub 24 hours a day, carrying her in a sling to simulate the way her mother would have cradled her. “We had to become this cub's ‘mothers,” said keeper Mindy Babitz. “We are caring for her needs around the clock — not just physical, but social, cognitive and emotional needs; it's very encouraging to watch her develop and grow.” The team plans to slowly introduce the cub to its adult sloth bears in the coming months. — Read it from the National Zoo

Family Reunited With Dog After 6 Years

It was six years ago when Maisy the Beagle followed the young boys in her family into the woods near their Tennessee home, and didn’t come out. The Helland family searched the woods, posted flyers and prayed for Maisy to find her way back. But it wasn’t until this week that Chad Helland got a call from the Young Williams Animal Center, saying that animal control had found the now 12-year-old dog out wandering and tracked down the Hellands through her microchip. "It was probably the most shocking phone call I've ever gotten in my life," Chad Helland said. Maisy appeared to have been cared for while she was away, and may have gotten away from another family. The Hellands had an emotional reunion with her, and are glad to have the senior dog back. "I feel so blessed to have her back. For my own comfort,” said April Helland. “I can hold her and tell her thank you for all those years that she was good to us.” — Watch it at Tennessee’s WBIR

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