Pet Scoop: Giant Tortoise Makes Huge Comeback, Comfort Dogs Go to Washington

Oct. 29, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

The endangered giant tortoise has made a dramatic comeback on the Galapagos island of Espanola.
James P. Gibbs, SUNY-ESF
The endangered giant tortoise has made a dramatic comeback on the Galapagos island of Espanola.

Giant Tortoises Up To 1,000

The endangered giant tortoise population on the tiny Galápagos island of Española has made an amazing recovery from the brink of extinction, according to a new study. In the 1960s, the tortoise population had dropped to just 15 because their habitat had been so damaged by feral goats. But the goats were removed and captive-bred tortoises were released on the island 40 years ago. There are now about 1,000 of the giant tortoises living in the wild and breeding. "It's one of the greatest conservation success stories," said study leader James Gibbs of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York. "What we basically found over time is, about half of the tortoises that were released have survived.” Giant tortoises were once found in the wild all over the world, but they are now found only in the Galápagos Islands. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

African Lion May Get Endangered Protection in U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Monday to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, allowing U.S. authorities to crack down on the enforcement and monitoring of imports and international trade. The move could also help raise awareness and with fundraising for conservation. As human settlements have encroached on the animals’ territory in Africa, livestock have been put within the lions’ reach. That’s resulted in “retaliatory killings by humans," the FWS said. “It is up to all of us, not just the people of Africa, to ensure that healthy, wild populations continue to roam the savannah for generations to come,” said FWS Director Dan Ashe. — Read it at AFP via Yahoo

Rare Blue Frog Found in Massachusetts

Jason Kubel, a conservationist with the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, found a blue leopard frog in the wetlands of Sudbury, Massachusetts. Leopard frogs are usually beige or green, and Kubel estimates just 1 in 300,000 are the blue color he found. He said he only knows of three blue leopard frogs found since 2003. — See photo at Discovery News

Three Comfort Dogs from the Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago traveled to Marysville, Washington, to visit a community reeling from a school shooting.
Three Comfort Dogs from the Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago traveled to Marysville, Washington, to visit a community reeling from a school shooting.

Dogs Bring Comfort to Washington

Three Golden Retrievers from Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dogs arrived in Marysville, Washington, Monday to try to help a community that’s shocked and grieving after a deadly school shooting. On Friday, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg shot five students in the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, killing two of them before turning the gun on himself. The dogs, who live in Chicago, will spend about a week in the town, going to places where students gather to give them a smile and someone to hug. Two of the dogs, Luther, 3, and Shami, 6, also traveled to Newtown, Connecticut, after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The third comfort dog, Erin, is a 9-month-old puppy who’s in training. — Watch it at ABC News and see more photos at Facebook

Kitten Rescued From RV Tire Rim

Animal control officers from Martin County in Florida couldn’t believe their eyes when they arrived at the scene of a distressed kitten call. The 10-week-old black and white kitten had somehow gotten his head stuck in the hole of an RV tire rim. “With care, precision, and perseverance, Officers [Heather] Belknap and [Michele] Thonney managed to free the kitten from the tight spot without injuring him,” the county sheriff’s department said in a post about the incident on Facebook. The kitten is now being cared for at a local veterinary hospital and will likely be available for adoption soon. — Read it at Florida’s WPTV


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