Pet Scoop: Dogs to Detect Smuggled Wildlife, Grumpy Cat Celebrates Her 1st Birthday

April 5, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Four retrievers graduated on Thursday to become wildlife detection dogs.
Four retrievers graduated on Thursday to become wildlife detection dogs.

Retrievers Sniff Out Illegal Trade

Wildlife traffickers have a new force to reckon with. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s first class of “wildlife detector dogs” and their handlers graduated from 13 weeks of training in Georgia. Retrievers Viper, Butter, Lancer and Locket will be stationed at key ports around the U.S. to sniff out illegal trade in protected animals — such as elephant ivory or rhino horns. “The battle to stop wildlife smuggling is one we simply cannot afford to lose, and using dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell to catch smugglers will give us a real leg up in this effort,” said the U.S. FWS’s Ed Grace. — Read it from the Fish and Wildlife Service

Plus: Nearly 700 endangered pig-nosed turtles, which are only found in parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea, were confiscated at an airport in Jakarta, Indonesia last month. The animals are being treated and will be released back into the wild. — Read it at National Geographic News

Monkeys Mimic Facial Expressions

A new study found that, much like humans, Gelada monkeys mirror each other's facial expressions while they’re playing. This unconscious response was especially common between mothers and infants, and relates to an internal emotional connection, according to Pier Francesco Ferrari of the University of Parma in Italy, who co-authored the study. The research shows that "basic forms of empathy are present in other species that are not apes," Ferrari said. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. — Read it at Live Science

Missing Long Island Cat Found in Times Square

Maybe he thought he could make it on Broadway. A cat who disappeared two years ago from the home of a New York City police officer in Long Island, N.Y., was found on Thursday — by a haunted house promoter in full zombie makeup. Jeremy Zelkowitz brought the cat, named Disaster, to a nearby animal hospital, where the staff scanned him for a microchip. Owner Jimmy Helliesen said the cat, who fled 6 months after he’d been adopted, must have had “quite an adventure.” — Read it from AP via NJ.com

Not even a cake in her honor could make Grumpy Cat crack a smile.
Not even a cake in her honor could make Grumpy Cat crack a smile.

Happy Birthday Grumpy Cat! 

Another cat who’s already struck fame celebrated her first birthday on Thursday — but even that didn’t make her smile. Yes, we’re talking about Grumpy Cat. The kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has had quite a year, appearing in dozens of memes, making headlines with her appearance at SXSW in Austin and landing a deal with Friskies. Photos of her celebration were shared on her Facebook page. — Read it at the Huffington Post

Zoo Names Its Five Lion Cubs

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium revealed the results of its Facebook naming contest for its quintuplet African lion cubs, who were born in December. The two males will be called Taj, which means crown, and Josiri, meaning brave. The three females are Kya (diamond in the sky), Leela (night beauty) and Zuri (beautiful flower). The African names were submitted by the zoo’s Facebook fans and were then put to a popular vote. — Watch it at USA Today

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