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Dec. 16, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Just in time for the holidays, the Griffin family’s beloved dog Brian was revived on last night’s episode of Fox’s Family Guy, “The Christmas Guy.” Fans of the animated comedy were shocked and outraged last month when the intellectual dog was hit by a car in front of his home and died. Many petitioned for him to be brought back on the show, suggesting that Stewie, the family’s toddler, could hop in his time machine and save him. And that’s exactly what happened. All Stewie wanted for Christmas was his best friend Brian. So, he fixed his machine and performed a Christmas Miracle to bring Brian back from the dead, and had a heartwarming reunion with his talking pal. “And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash,” Tweeted the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane. “Oh and hey... thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude.”— Read it at E! Online
The zoo had a surprising update on Friday: its 4-month-old twin giant panda cubs Mei Lun and Mei Huan, as well as their 3-year-old sibling, Po, aren’t boys after all. DNA tests confirmed that all three are females. The three were sexed as male by representatives from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, but the zoo says that it’s not unusual for young pandas to be sexed incorrectly. There are no obvious external clues to their gender until they’re about 3 years old. The zoo has no plans to change the bears’ names, and says the news won’t impact their care. All of the girls are the offspring of mom Lun Lun and dad Yang Yang.— Read it from Zoo Atlanta
Climate change was widely thought to be the main reason for the rapid decline of frogs in the Andes. But new research finds that frogs living at higher elevations can tolerate increasing temperatures — but that the habitats they live in are at the optimal temperature for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, a harmful fungus the frogs have only encountered recently. Bd causes chytridiomycosis, a fatal disease that’s led to the decline or extinction of 200 frog species around the world. "The frogs at the top of the mountain are in trouble because they are experiencing a novel pathogen,” said study co-author Vance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University. “The guys at the lower elevations are not in trouble from the fungus, but they're really susceptible to changes in climate." He said Bd was likely introduced to the area by human activity. The study was published in the journal Conservation Biology. — Read it at Science Daily
There’s a new famous face among Portuguese Water Dogs. The breed has gained a high profile in recent years because the Obama family has two of the dogs living with them at the White House. Now, GCH CH Claircreek Impression de Matisse, a Portie owned by Milan Lint, Peggy Helming and Donna Gottdenker of New York, won the top prize in the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Matisse, who first won the working group, got enthusiastic cheers from the audience in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night as he won Best in Show honors and $50,000 in prize money. Matisse bested Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier who was named Reserve Best in Show and won the Terrier group; Riley, an Irish Water Spaniel who won the Sporting group; Jewel, an American Foxhound who represented the Hound group; Rodger, a Pekingese who took the Toy group; Flame, a Standard Poodle who won the Non-Sporting group; and Fritz, a German Shepherd Dog who won the Herding group. — Watch it at Eukanuba
An amazing video reveals the secretive pre-spawning behavior of the bonefish. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Florida Institute of Technology used tracking tags on some members of a school of 10,000 of the fish to follow their final stages of spawning. The fish, who normally dwell 30 feet down near the sea bottom, moved over a reef edge and descended 160 feet. Then, the video shows them suddenly rising in a spiral, sometimes breaking the water’s surface. In their sudden movement to shallow water, the fish release eggs and sperm into the water. This new understanding of how the bonefish spawn will help with their conservation, the researchers said. — Read it and watch the video at Live Science
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