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Dec. 30, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Zahra, a lanky 6-foot Rothschild’s giraffe calf, was born to mom Aiofe and dad Meru at England’s Chester Zoo on Dec. 22 and has now made her public debut. Rothschild’s are one of the world’s most endangered subspecies of giraffes, with only an estimated 1,100 left in the wild. “Numbers are declining at a worrying rate due to a massive upsurge in poaching for their meat,” said the zoo’s curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands. The calf, whose name means flower in Swahili, joins a herd of seven other Rothschild’s giraffes at the zoo. “We’re happy to report that our new, not-so-little youngster is doing well and is already confident on her long legs,” Rowlands said. — Read it at the Chester Zoo
Two ornithologists from Western Illinois University say a bird they observed whose plumage is bright red on one side and gray-brown on the other is a bilateral gynandromorph northern cardinal, meaning it exhibits both male and female characteristics. The researchers spent 15 months watching the cardinal and said it has a lonely life. They never saw it pair up with another bird or heard it sing. But, they said it also didn’t engage in any battles with other cardinals. Their observations were published in the The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. — Read it at Discovery News
Roy Dufek of Portland, Oregon, sold his girlfriend’s mattress on Dec. 17 without realizing her 5-year-old cat, Camo, was hiding inside the box spring. They believe the cat hopped out when the mattress’s new owner was bringing it into his home. After the cat was spotted near the Hillsboro Airport, Dufek’s girlfriend, Hayley Crews, set out a trap in the area with sardines in oil and familiar scented clothing. He wandered into the trap Saturday night, and is now back home after a trip to the vet. He suffered from a cut lip and a bleeding paw and lost some weight, but was otherwise OK after his 10-day adventure. “It was quite emotional last night; we’re in shock of this whole experience, and have been holding him tight!” Dufek said in a statement. — Read it from the AP via The Seattle Times
A group of goats is helping to recycle Christmas trees in Reno, Nevada. "They'll eat the pine needles and leave the skeleton of the tree," said Vince Thomas, a longtime volunteer firefighter and owner of the goat herding business Goat Grazers. After they’re done, "it basically looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas with a scrawny tree that has nothing but the branches.” He said his research showed that the pine needles were safe for the goats to eat — and in turn, they were reducing the fire danger associated with having so many trees dumped in landfills or on public property in the desert. — Read it from the AP via Yahoo and watch it at Sacramento's News 10 ABC
After an 1,700-mile road trip from Indiana to Utah, 9-year-old German Shepherd Bela was greeted with a big party at his new home: Best Friends Animal Society’s no-kill sanctuary. Bela’s owner, Connie Ley, died in November. Her will stipulated that her dog, who she said could be aggressive at times, be put down to be buried with her, or be sent to live at Best Friends. But Best Friends didn’t know anything about Bela until the group heard news reports about him, and it wasn’t clear which option the executor of Ley’s will would choose. Best Friends reached out to Ley’s attorney and offered to give the dog a home at the sanctuary. Their staff members went to Indiana to bring Bela to Utah. Best Friends says that Bela’s situation highlights an important point. “Folks need to talk to the orgs if they're looking to send pets to them," spokesman Eric Rayvid said. "Most run at capacity and might not be able to take in a pet that they get surprised with like we did Bela." — Read it at the Huffington Post
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