Pet Scoop: Emotional Reunion for Nina Pham and Bentley, Donor Buys Giraffe Naming Rights

Nov. 3, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Bentley slobbers his owner, Nina Pham, with kisses after being released from quarantine Saturday.
Bentley showers his owner, Nina Pham, with kisses after being released from quarantine.

Happy Bentley Heads Home

It was the scene many animal lovers have been waiting for. On Saturday, Ebola survivor Nina Pham’s adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley, was handed back to her in a joy-filled ceremony in Dallas Saturday. Bentley wagged his tail in her arms as he smothered her — and her parents — with kisses. Bentley had been kept in quarantine for three weeks after Pham was diagnosed with the deadly virus. He was cared for by Dallas Animal Services and veterinarians from Texas A&M University, who wore protective gear while handling Bentley. He was also quite happy to thank them now that several tests have proven he never contracted Ebola. "After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn't know what would happen to Bentley and if he would have the virus," Pham said. "I was frightened that I might not know what happened to my best friend." She said she’s excited to take Bentley home to start planning to celebrate his 2nd birthday this month. — Watch the reunion at YouTube and read it from Reuters via Yahoo

Researchers: Bats Could Be Key to Ebola Cure

Bats can carry the Ebola virus without becoming sick themselves, and they may have helped spread the disease in West Africa, where more than 5,000 people have died from it this year. The bats can leave the virus on fruit, which is then picked up by animals like monkeys and antelopes. Those animals are then sometimes eaten by humans in West Africa. But scientists say the bats’ immunity to the disease could help develop a cure for humans. They think the bats’ ability to avoid becoming sick from Ebola and other diseases they carry may be linked to their ability to fly. Their flying can cause stress and cell damage, and experts think they may combat this damage by having parts of their immune system permanently switched on. "If we can redirect the immune system of other species to react in the same way, then that could be a potential therapeutic approach," said Michelle Baker of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. — Read it at the U.K.’s International Business Times

Rare Fanged Deer Spotted in Afghanistan

A research team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society reports it’s had five sightings of the Kashmir musk deer in northeastern Afghanistan. The deer was last seen in the country in 1948. A lone male was seen three times in the same area, as well as a female with a juvenile and a solitary female. The team wasn’t able to photograph the elusive animals. The species is endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. "Musk deer are one of Afghanistan's living treasures," said Peter Zahler, co-author of the study and WCS deputy director of Asia programs. His team’s findings were published in the journal Oryx. — Read it at Discovery News

A donor bought the rights to name a male reticulated giraffe born last week at the Dallas Zoo to mom Chrystal.
A donor bought the rights to name a male reticulated giraffe born last week at the Dallas Zoo to mom Chrystal.

Donor Will Name Dallas Giraffe

An anonymous donor has bought the rights to name a reticulated giraffe calf born at the Dallas Zoo last week for $50,000. The 6-foot, 120-pound baby boy was born to mom Chrystal on Oct. 28. Veterinarian Lynn Kramer and giraffe keepers had to step in to help Chrystal deliver the calf in a custom-built chute in the giraffe barn after he became stuck during labor. “The chute and our team’s training definitely paid off, allowing us to provide excellent emergency care to Chrystal and the calf,” said Kramer. The zoo hasn’t announced the name of the donor who won naming rights at an auction held by the zoo but said it wasn’t a corporation. The donation will fund conservation efforts. The baby is bonding with his mom behind the scenes at the zoo and will soon be out on exhibit. — Read it at ABC News and see more cute zoo baby photos

Robotic Penguin Chick Gets Up Close With Birds

A research team disguised a four-wheeled robotic rover as a penguin chick in order to get up close and personal with a colony of emperor penguins without upsetting the skittish birds. If humans enter the colony, the penguins get so stressed that it alters their behavior. Thirty-four king penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica, were fitted with external heart rate monitors using antenna that needs to get within 60 centimeters of the birds to get a reading. They went through about five different disguises before finding one that didn’t scare the penguins — a costume covered in soft fuzz like a real penguin chick. The other chicks huddled with it as they do with each other, and the adults sang to it. The rover’s success opens up the possibility of fitting them with audio or video recording equipment to study the effects of climate change up close. The study was published in the journal Nature Methods. — Read it at CNet


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