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Dec. 26, 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 days before Christmas, Melody Russell returned to her Tampa, Fla., home to find the gifts she’d wrapped for her 5- and 7-year-old children had been swiped from under the tree by thieves. The family was touched when members of the Tampa Police Department used their own money to replace the presents. But they couldn’t replace the one thing that the family is missing most: their 12-week-old puppy, Honey. “Their dog is what they want,” Russell told reporters Tuesday. “It’s like losing a family member.” The police are searching for the little dog, and posted a photo on Facebook, saying, “Believe it or not, the thieves took the family dog. It would mean so much to the kids to have their dog Honey back.” — Read it at ABC News
In Jupiter, Fla., there was much happier news for the family of legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. His 28-year-old daughter, Jessica, was reunited with her Shih Tzu mix, Tula, five years after the dog wandered away from her home. Namath and her famous dad knocked on doors and posted a $2,000 reward when Tula disappeared, but had no leads. So, Jessica was shocked to get a call last week from a man who’d found Tula 200 miles away. Tula had a microchip, but the phone numbers listed with it had been disconnected. Luckily, Michael Cecere used Facebook to track the Namaths down. Now, little Tula is getting to know Jessica Namath’s 3-year-old daughter. "We are going to have an extra special Christmas this year," Jessica said. — Read it at ABC News via Yahoo
There are plenty of stories of cats being stuck in trees. But last week, firefighters in Luton, England, came to the rescue of a 5-month-old kitten who was perched for two days in the rain at the top of a billboard advertising chocolate bars. The cold, wet kitten was taken in by the RSPCA, and a spokeswoman said they were looking for the black-and-white cat’s owner. Meanwhile, the staff has nicknamed him Bill. "Bill is so friendly and is having lots of cuddles from the staff at our animal center," said animal collection officer Kate Wright. "He must have been so relieved to be rescued as he was rubbing around my legs and crying once we got him down." — Read it at BBC News
When keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland noticed that Marty, a Siberian tiger, was only using the left side of his mouth to chew, they realized he might need some dental work. The huge 4-year-old cat was anaesthetized last week, allowing animal dentists and veterinarians to safely examine a chipped tooth on the right side of his mouth. It turned out that the 412-pound tiger needed a root canal, and his doctors are hoping that it will prevent him from needing a tooth extraction in the future. The endangered tiger was soon back on his feet, with a little help, and will chew on smaller pieces of meet for a few days until he’s back to normal. — Read it at Live Science
Two weeks ago, keepers at the Tennessee zoo had a happy surprise at work in the morning: a baby Masai giraffe. “I arrived at the giraffe barn around 7:30 a.m. [on Dec. 13] to find a dry, healthy, standing baby giraffe, which is the perfect way to find them,” said Kate Cortelyou, lead giraffe keeper. “We are so thrilled about the latest addition to our herd.” The 6-foot, 5-inch, 180-pound female is the third offspring for mom Margarita. She’ll spend the next two months in the barn with her mom, and then her keepers will decide whether she’s ready to head outdoors — depending on the weather conditions. She joins a herd that includes two other Masai giraffes and one reticulated giraffe. — See photos at Zooborns
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