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Feb. 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.
Mack, a 3-year-old German Shepherd, has nothing but kisses for the firefighter who saved his life after he fell into a 10-foot sinkhole in Buffalo, N.Y. It was early Sunday morning when Mattie Moore took Mack for their daily walk in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park. As she walked over snow, her leg sunk into the hole but she caught herself and crawled to safety. Mack wasn’t as lucky. He came up behind her and fell right to the bottom of the hole. Moore frantically called 911 for help. When the fire department’s technical rescue team arrived, firefighter Michael Paveljack climbed down a ladder into the hole to help the 100-pound dog, who was standing in 18 inches of water. "He was intimidating. He was a big dog," said Paveljack, who once owned a German Shepherd. "But he was just scared. He knew he was in trouble and he wanted to get out of that hole as fast as possible." Rescuers at the top created a harness to hoist Mack up while Paveljack pushed from below. Mack is recovering, and Moore hopes to bring him to the vet for a checkup. Meanwhile, his hero laughs that he’s “catching a lot of stuff” at the firehouse for the picture of him getting a kiss from Mack. "I just love dogs,” Paveljack says. “I wanted to check him out, and he just happened to lick me." — Read it from the AP
The Oregon chub, which lives only in the state’s backwaters, is the first ever to be removed from the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act because it no longer faces extinction. The tiny minnow was on the endangered list for 21 years, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now says it will monitor the fish for the next nine years, watching to be sure its populations continue to increase. “They can leave the hospital and get out to be an outpatient," said Paul Henson, Oregon director of Fish and Wildlife. The 3-inch fish had all but disappeared as the backwaters and beaver ponds it depends on were drained for farms and cities over the last 150 years. Biologists say the fish was relatively easy to save with the help of landowners because it lives in small places that don’t have the interference of development like logging, hydroelectric power and farming. — Read it from the AP via Yahoo
The genomes of dogs, cows and other mammals have been mapped before, but now a group of researchers plans to decipher the genomes of cats. The team, lead by a University of Missouri professor, initially planned to sequence nine cats, in a takeoff on the saying that cats have nine lives. But they realized that wasn’t enough to create a genetic portrait and increased their sample to 99 felines, creating the 99 Lives Cat Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative. They hope that the mapping of 20,000 genes in various cat breeds will not only reveal the genetic cause of distinguishing marks like fur and eye colors, but help them understand more about cat health problems, as well as diseases that can occur in both cats and humans. — Read it at the San Francisco Chronicle
Once on the brink of extinction, the small population of Mexican wolves living in the Southwestern U.S. grew for the fourth year in a row in 2013, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the end of last year, there were at least 83 of the wolves in Arizona and New Mexico — eight more than in 2012, and nearly double what it was four years ago. The population survey found 14 known packs, five breeding pairs and 17 newborn pups who’d survived until the end of 2013. The Mexican wolves "remain a long way from being recovered, but this is definitely encouraging new,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. The wolves once roamed throughout the Southwest but were nearly extinct in the U.S. by the 1970s. Some conservationists were disappointed in what they thought was slow population growth for the species, and would like to see the FWS release more captive breeding pairs into the wild. — Read it at Live Science
Diners at an outdoor restaurant at a South African wildlife park were stunned to see one extra-tall customer arrive. A giraffe was caught on video casually walking through the eatery, then wandering off when it apparently didn’t see anything appetizing on the menu. — Watch video at Today
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