Pet Scoop: Dog Plays Surrogate to Cheetah Cubs, 17-Year-Old Dog Saved From Sinkhole

March 24, 2016: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Blakely, an Australian Shepherd, cuddles with the Cincinnati Zoo's cheetah cubs.
Blakely, an Australian Shepherd, cuddles with the Cincinnati Zoo's cheetah cubs.

Dog Nurtures Endangered Cubs

We have a bittersweet update on the Cincinnati Zoo’s five cheetah cubs that we told you about earlier this week. Sadly, the cubs’ mom, Willow, passed away. But for now, the babies have a sweet surrogate: Blakely, a male Australian Shepherd. Blakely is an experienced nanny who’s nurtured several babies in the zoo’s nursery. For the cheetah cubs, he’s providing snuggling, comfort — and a place for the cubs to climb. “His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together. They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving,” said keeper Dawn Strasser, who supervises the daily climbing sessions with Blakely. The cubs are still in critical care, and will be in the nursery for at least 8 to 12 weeks. — Read it at Discovery News

Study Links Cat Parasite to Angry Outbursts in Humans

Researchers with the University of Chicago say that toxoplasma gondii, a parasite commonly spread from cats to humans, may play a role in humans’ impulsive aggression. The finding was part of a larger effort to improve diagnosis and treatment of people with recurrent bouts of extreme anger. The parasite is carried by about 30 percent of all humans and is usually considered relatively harmless, but the researchers found a link between it and Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a psychiatric disorder characterized by problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression. Individuals with IED were more than twice as likely to test positive for toxoplasmosis exposure compared with the control group. "Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats," said study author Dr. Royce Lee in a statement. "We don't yet understand the mechanisms involved — it could be an increased inflammatory response, direct brain modulation by the parasite, or even reverse causation where aggressive individuals tend to have more cats or eat more undercooked meat. Our study signals the need for more research and more evidence in humans." The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. — Read it at CBS News

Rare Rhino Captured in Borneo

A live, critically endangered Sumatran rhino was captured in the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, where the animals were long thought to be extinct. It’s the first time in 40 years that humans have found a live rhino there. There are only an estimated 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild and most live on the island of Sumatra, which is west of Borneo. World Wildlife Fund researchers captured the elusive 4-to-5-year-old female and they plan to transfer her to a protected forest 93 miles away. They’re hoping to create a new Sumatran rhino sanctuary on the island. — Read it at Live Science

A 17-year-old dog named Chance was saved from a sinkhole in his backyard.
Palatine Police Department
A 17-year-old dog named Chance was saved from a sinkhole in his backyard.

Elderly Dog Rescued From Sinkhole

Police, firefighters and public works crews came to the rescue of a 17-year-old dog Tuesday morning after he fell into a sinkhole in his family’s yard in Palatine, Illinois. Chance disappeared after being let out in the backyard. The Palatine Police said the dog fell through a small opening in the grass into a larger underground sinkhole and became trapped. The family’s teenage son started digging to free Chance and was assisted by crews when they arrived on the scene. Chance was finally freed and wasn’t injured in the incident. — Read it at ABC 7 Chicago

Newborn Lambs Get Sweater Surprise

The lambs at England’s Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park got an anonymous gift in the mail Monday morning: colorful little knit jumpers to keep them cozy. The farm usually uses plastic jackets to warm the babies, which increases their survival rates. "The main priority for lambs in the first few days, when they are at their most vulnerable, is survival," park manager Doug Douglas. Thanks to the generous knitter who sent the sweaters, the lambs will now be toasty warm — and stylish, too. — See photos at Today


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