Pet Scoop: D.C. Zoo Opens New American Trail, Dog Found Alive Four Days After Fire

August 31, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

One of the American Trail's residents goes for a swim.
Smithsonian's National Zoo
One of the American Trail's residents goes for a swim.

Environmentally Friendly Exhibit Opens at National Zoo

Sea lions, beavers, river otters and a bald eagle are some of the animal species featured in Washington D.C.'s National Zoo’s American Trail exhibit which opens this weekend. These species from the U.S. and Canada were brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to conservation efforts and the zoo is applying other conservation and sustainability elements to the American Trail as well. These "green" efforts include a focus on water conservation with pools designed to use less than half of the water that similar one's use and an ozone disinfectant system that reduces the need for chlorine in the pools. — Read it from the National Zoo

Famed LA Bear Gets a Permanent Home

A local bear in Los Angeles — who has been given many nicknames including Glen Bearian and Meatball because he stole meatballs from someone's garage refrigerator — is getting a new home. Efforts to rehome him in the area have not worked out as he was twice returned to the Angeles National Forest but found his way back to residential neighborhoods. After being captured for a third time, the bear is staying at a rescue facility in San Diego until he can be taken to his permanent home, the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. — Read it at Today

“Secret Handshakes” Among Chimps May Be Cultural

New research finds that certain groups of chimpanzees have their own special way of communicating while grooming each other. Among some troupes, it’s common for the chimps to use one hand to groom each other and use the other to hold hands and raise them over their heads. Researchers have found that this behavior varies among groups and believe this is cultural phenomenon rather than a genetic one. "They can have a shared community tradition," said a researcher from the Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. — Read it at Live Science

Lil Bit, a Chihuahua, was found alive four days after a church fire in Iowa.
Lil Bit kisses her owner after being found alive.

Days After Church Fire, Pastor’s Dog Is Found Alive

The Rev. David Reasby thought his Chihuahua had perished in a blaze at the Des Moines, Iowa, Baptist church where he’s the pastor. But four days after the fire, as inspectors finished walking through the burned building, they heard “these little feet coming right behind them, and it was my baby,” Reasby said. “I bent down and she jumped right in my hands.” Lil Bit’s eyes were matted and she was dirty and hungry, but she had survived. — Read it at the Des Moines Register

Pigeons Disappear in Mysterious “Birdmuda Triangle”

A triangular region in North East England seems to be throwing off the internal navigation capability of racing pigeons. Hundreds of the birds, who can usually find their way home from distances of hundreds of miles, have been disappearing in the area, giving it the nickname the “Birdmuda Triangle.” Baffled scientists have been trying to determine the cause of the birds’ confusion. A Cornell University expert suspects bad weather is to blame. — Read it at Discovery News

Cheetah Septuplets Make Public Debut

The 12-week-old cheetah cubs at the Whipsnade Zoo outside London stole hearts as they romped around in their yard this week while their fans watched. “All seven are extremely playful but mum’s very patient with them all and is doing a great job of bringing them up,” said senior keeper Marie Brown. — See photos at ITV News

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