Pet Scoop: Explorers Find Thousands of Penguins, Seal Goes Boat-Hopping in Australia

Jan. 22, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Researchers made the first human contact with this emperor penguin colony in Antarctica last month.
Alain Hubert, International Polar Foundation
Researchers made the first human contact with this emperor penguin colony in Antarctica last month.

Researchers Confirm Huge Colony

Last month, a group of researchers traveled to Antarctica to make the first human contact with a massive colony of emperor penguins whose existence had previously only been identified using satellite imagery. A team from the International Polar Foundation’s Princess Elisabeth Station had an idea of where to start looking thanks to the imagery from the British Antarctic Survey, but they still had a tough trek on snowmobiles to reach the colony. Finally, they came upon the 9,000 penguins, most of them chicks, spread out on the sea ice. The researchers are hoping to learn more about how the penguins are coping with climate change. "We were lucky to find it," expedition leader Alain Hubert, said of the colony. — Read it at National Geographic News

Golden Retrievers Recruited for Lifelong Study

The largest and longest dog study ever conducted will follow 3,000 purebred Golden Retrievers throughout their lifetimes in an effort to find ways to prevent canine cancer. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, led by Dr. Rodney Page at the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, will focus on bone cancer, lymphoma and a cancer in the blood vessels called hemangiosarcoma, but Page also expects to uncover information about other dog diseases. — Read it at AP via Yahoo News

Researchers Investigate “Cute Aggression”

How many times have you said something like, “I want to eat you up!” when seeing an adorable puppy? An experiment by Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University, and her colleagues found that seeing pictures of cute animals actually incites aggression in humans — more so than when they see funny or neutral animal photos. The researchers don’t know the reason for this aggressive tendency, but Dryer said it’s possible that seeing the picture makes us frustrated that we can’t actually care for the animal in it, or that it’s a display of overwhelmingly positive emotion — like the way Miss America cries with happiness when she’s crowned. The results were presented at a meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in New Orleans.— Read it at Live Science

This young fur seal surprised an Australian family on their boat.
This young fur seal surprised an Australian family on their boat.

Seal Hitches Boat Rides in Australia

The Murray family had a close encounter with an extra-friendly fur seal, who hopped aboard their boat in Queensland, Australia, and stayed for a visit recently. The young seal, who’s quite skilled at jumping on board, seems to have boat-hopped all the way from southern Australia to the northern part of the country. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Ashleigh Murray. The family eventually had to give their newfound friend, who they affectionately nicknamed "Salty," a push off the boat so they could move on. — Watch it at CNN

Baby Komodo Dragons Hatch at Memphis Zoo

A large clutch of 16 rare Komodo dragons are beginning to break out of their shells at the Memphis Zoo. The eggs were incubated at 84 degrees for 234 to 240 days. The reptiles are the first babies of the year to be born at the zoo. — See photo at ABC News


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