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Feb. 18, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Until now, philanthropist might not have been the first word that came to mind when you thought of actor Charlie Sheen. But that’s changed with the news that Sheen has given the family of Florida 15-year-old Teagan Marti the money needed to pay for a therapy dog. In 2010, Teagan fell from a carnival ride in Wisconsin, and suffered brain, pelvis and other internal injuries. Lucia Wilgus, a woman in Wisconsin who’d helped the Martis with fundraising, recently sent a letter to Sheen through his godfather, who’s a Wilgus family friend, asking for $6,000 to help them get a Golden Retriever puppy trained to help with tasks like turning on lights, picking up objects and just being Teagan’s companion. Saying he likes to “pay it forward,” Sheen decided to send $10,000 to help defray any additional costs for the family, who is struggling financially. "I think he's a very kind person for helping me and my family and very generous," said Teagan. — Read it at AP via USA Today
A group of thousands of common dolphins was spotted last week off the coast of San Diego. Capt. Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises said he’d never seen anything like the “super mega-pod” that spanned 7 miles long and 5 miles wide. He estimated there were 100,000 dolphins swimming together. His tour boat followed the dolphins for more than an hour. “They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” he said. — See photo at NBC San Diego
While the global plague chytrid fungus has driven some amphibian species to extinction, there’s good news for frogs living in West Africa: so far, it’s been a safe haven from the disease. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, none of the nearly 800 amphibians in West Africa who were tested had the fungus. The researchers suggest that the Dahomey Gap, a dry savannah separating the Congo forest from the west African rainforest, may have protected the population, but they warn that people traveling across the gap could bring the disease with them. — Read it at Discovery News
Chimps’ Memory Stuns Scientists
A Japanese researcher showed a video last week at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science that left the room murmuring in amazement. When the digits 1 through 9 appeared randomly on a screen before disappearing, a chimpanzee was able to recall the exact sequence and placement of each number. The task is "impossible for you," researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University told his audience. While six out of six chimps who were tested were able to remember the numbers, only a human with savant syndrome would be able to do the same, he said. This skill helps chimps survive in the wild, Matsuzawa said. — Read it at Live Science
Most people would probably be quick to say that a baby would be the most likely reason for an unmarried couple to stay together. But according to Harry Benson, of the U.K.’s Marriage Foundation, “research on cohabiting couples show conclusively that getting a pet is a better indicator of staying together than having a baby.” — Read it at the U.K.’s Telegraph
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