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Dec. 4, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Capt. Tom Langevin of the Waterboro Fire Department in Maine is known as Dr. Doolittle for his way with animals. So, when the department got a call at 8 a.m. Wednesday about a wayward Golden Retriever who’d wandered 100 feet onto thin ice on Little Ossipee Lake and fell through, he and other officials hurried to the scene. “Being the animal lover he is, [Langevin] hustled into an ice water suit and headed right in,” the department said on its Facebook page. He lifted Dakota onto solid ice, and the dog walked back to shore. Langevin was reeled back in with the line tethers. The rescue was over within minutes, and the dog’s owner reports Dakota spent an hour warming up in front of a woodstove. Fire Chief Matthew Bors reminded everyone that in many places, the ice on lakes and ponds isn’t yet safe enough to walk on. — Read it at Maine’s Portland Press Herald and see tips for ice safety
Wildlife experts say giraffe populations are dropping drastically across Africa due to poaching and habitat loss, and it’s gone largely unnoticed. There has been a 40 percent drop in the giraffe population in the last 15 years, according to the Namibian-based Giraffe Conservation Research, which is conducting the first comprehensive assessment on giraffes to be published next year. “It’s a silent extinction,” said Dr. Julian Fennessy, the group’s executive director. “The numbers have gone down from 140,000 to fewer than 80,000 today.” Fennessy said there’s a widespread belief that the animals are everywhere, due to a lack of accurate data. — Read it at ABC News
A new study finds that the distribution of the koala population in Australia may be influenced by the quality of eucalyptus leaves. The marsupials’ population density varies widely among Australia’s eucalyptus forests. Researchers in this study sampled leaves from eight species of eucalyptus trees and determined the koalas’ visitation using the animals’ fecal pellets at the base of the tree. They found the koalas visited trees with leaves that had higher available nitrogen, which is used by their bodies to make proteins. They avoided trees with higher leaf concentrations of a toxic chemical found exclusively in eucalyptus. The researchers suggest that plant diversity is likely important when koalas are foraging in habitats with low nutritional quality. It provides a range of nutritional quality and minimizes the need to move to forests with higher quality leaves. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Science Daily
Bec Russell-Cook, a keeper at Australia’s Taronga Zoo, has been caring for a 6-month-old Quokka joey around the clock while she helps her with the weaning process. “She’s quite the little climber,” says Russell-Cook of the joey, who she named Meeuk Mia. “She loves climbing on the other keepers’ shoulders and heads during morning tea and I even woke up one night to find her looking at me from atop a mountain of pillows next to my bed.” Quokkas are one of the smallest wallaby species in Australia. The keeper will continue to care for Mia until she’s old enough to join the zoo’s other hand-raised Quokkas at its education center. — See more photos at Buzzfeed
The Oregon Zoo’s brother and sister polar bear twins, Conrad and Tasul, celebrated their 30th birthday Monday — and it could make them the oldest polar bears in the world, their keeper said. "The median life expectancy for polar bears is 20.7 years for males and 24.2 years for females, so 30 is considered quite elderly for both of them," said keeper Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey. "You'd never know it to look at these two though — they're still very playful, especially in cooler weather. Our staff works hard to keep them healthy, active and engaged." They were born at the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina in 1984 and moved to Oregon in 1986. The siblings celebrated with birthday treats including cream cheese and opened gifts of enrichment items. — Read it at Oregon’s KGW
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