Pet Scoop: Chicago Aquarium Helps Rescue African Penguins, Bao Bao Makes Her Debut

Jan. 20, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Members of the Shedd Aquarium's animal care team traveled to South Africa to help nurse stranded penguins back to health.
Shedd Aquarium
Members of the Shedd Aquarium's animal care team traveled to South Africa to help nurse stranded penguins back to health.

Team Helps Endangered Penguins

Today is National Penguin Awareness Day, and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has taken it global. This month, two members of its marine mammal care team headed to Cape Town, South Africa, to help with this year’s unusual number of African penguin strandings. They’re working with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to rehabilitate more than 500 of the endangered water birds. The Shedd team members are using their expertise to help with some of the most extreme cases in the center’s intensive care unit. At this time of year, SANCCOB receives hundreds of penguin chicks that have been abandoned or aren’t thriving in their nests for other reasons. African penguins are threatened by oil spills, habitat degradation and climate change. Large catches of fish by commercial fisheries also threatens their food source. Their rapid decline could lead to extinction in just 15 years.

Chimps Can Gesture to Each Other in Hunt for Food

In experiments with two language-trained chimpanzees, researchers at Georgia State University’s Language Research Center found that the primates would use hand gestures to coordinate in their search for food. “The chimpanzees used gestures to recruit the assistance of an otherwise uninformed person and to direct the person to hidden objects 10 or more meters away,” said researcher Dr. Charles Menzel. “This study adds to our understanding of how well chimpanzees can remember and communicate about their environment. "The study was published in the journal Nature Communications. — Read it at Science Daily

Finding Sea Turtle “Hotspots” Could Save Lives

Researchers have identified danger zones in the Pacific Ocean where large leatherback sea turtles are likely to get caught up in fishing lines or nets, which can be deadly for them. The 2,000-pound marine animals often mistake tuna or swordfish caught in fishing gear for a meal, and get entangled themselves. Ecologists from Drexel University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke combined satellite tracking information from 135 turtles with data from fisheries to generate maps showing the risk of turtles encountering fishing lines by season. They’re hopeful the work will help protect the endangered turtles. — Read it at Live Science

The National Zoo's panda cub met adoring crowds for the first time over the weekend.
Abby Wood, National Zoo
The National Zoo's panda cub met adoring crowds for the first time over the weekend.

Bao Bao Meets the Crowds

Adoring fans of the National Zoo’s 18-pound giant panda cub got their first in-person glimpse of Washington’s newest celebrity over the weekend. They waited in long lines to watch little Bao Bao, who’s nearly 5 months old, from behind a window. The cub mostly slept, but that didn’t disappoint her fans, who were happy to see the cute cub anyway.  The zoo was expecting 10,000 visitors to meet the panda over the 3-day holiday weekend. — Read it at the Washington Post

New App Gives Pet First Aid Tips

The American Red Cross has launched a Pet First Aid app with the input of veterinarians at University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. For $.99 on Apple and Android mobile phones, the app can help pet owners determine if their dog or cat is OK. The app helps owners know "what's normal so they can know what's abnormal much sooner," said Penn Vet’s Deborah C. Mandell. The app also uses GPS to help locate the closest animal hospital when you have an emergency. — Read it at Philly.com

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