Pet Scoop: Hero Police Dog Expected to Recover, Mama Cat Tracks Down Her Kittens

Oct. 22, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

K9 Thor suffered stabbing wounds in Louisiana when he saved a sheriff's deputy. He's expected to recover.
K9 Thor suffered stabbing wounds in Louisiana when he saved a sheriff's deputy. He's expected to recover.

K-9 Thor Saves Sheriff’s Deputy

A heroic police dog in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, is recovering from surgery after being stabbed Tuesday by a burglary suspect. When the suspect confronted two deputies with a switchblade, K-9 Thor intervened, said Sheriff Jack Strain. "The deputy believes, had it not been for the K-9 Thor, this individual would have killed him,” Strain said, reported Louisiana’s WGNO. After the stabbing, the suspect, identified as Darien Greenwood, was shot by deputies and later died. Thor had surgery Wednesday, and the sheriff’s office has been touched by the outpouring of concern for Thor from around the world. "He's an incredible dog and an incredible partner,” said Strain of the 4-year-old Belgian Malinois. Although veterinarians are evaluating Thor’s condition “day by day,” “There's a very good chance he should be able to recover and get back on the street,” said Dr. David Kergosien. — Read it at the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Study: Cats Are Highly Sensitive to Bitter Flavors

New research may help explain why cats are notoriously picky eaters. Researchers examined the DNA from domestic cats and identified 12 different genes for bitter receptors. They found that at least seven of them had the ability to detect one or more bitter chemicals. The five others are likely to have that ability, too, but may respond to different bitter compounds than those used in the study, scientists said. “Now that we know that they can taste different bitters, our work may lead to better formulations of cat food that eliminate the bitter off-taste associated with certain flavors and nutrients,” said molecular biologist and study lead author Peihua Jiang. Previous research found that cats are unable to detect sugars. The new study’s findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Discovery News

New Species of Giant Tortoise Identified in Galápagos

Genetic tests have revealed that the giant tortoises living on the east and west sides of Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos are actually two distinct species. While the two tortoise populations live only 6 miles from each other, on opposite sides of the island, the tests show they’re extremely distant relatives. Researchers said the western tortoises are part of the oldest giant tortoise lineage in the Galápagos, which evolved 1.74 million years ago. The eastern tortoises, however, evolved less than half a million years ago. The findings may change the way scientists approach the conservation of Galápagos tortoises, given that there are about 2,000 members of the western population but only 250 of the eastern species. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

A devoted mama cat tracked down her kittens at a vet clinic in New Zealand.
A devoted mama cat tracked down her kittens at a vet clinic in New Zealand.

Mama Cat Finds Her Family

A determined mother cat has been reunited with her kittens at a veterinary clinic in New Zealand. When staff members arrived at the Mill Road Vet Clinic for work last Wednesday, they discovered a box with four kittens who were about 3 or 4 weeks old on the doorstep. They brought the babies inside, set them up in incubators and bottle-fed them. Early the next morning, the staff was surprised when they saw a tabby cat trying to get in through the clinic’s doors. "Cats don't usually bring themselves to the vet," said Dr. Julie Wills. When they picked her up, they discovered she was a nursing mom, and suspected the kittens belonged to her. "We introduced her to the kittens and it was just immediately evident that she was their mum. She climbed in and all the kittens just latched on straight away," Wills said. She said the cat may have been in the box with the kittens and then climbed out before they were brought inside. The mom and her family will be available for adoption in a few weeks. — Read it at New Zealand’s 3News

National Zoo Elephant Arrives in Oklahoma

Kandula, a 14-year-old Asian elephant, safely arrived at his new home at the Oklahoma City Zoo Wednesday after a long road trip from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. “Although it’s bittersweet to say goodbye, male elephants become increasingly independent as they mature. At 14, it’s time for him to separate and be with females he’s not related to,” the National Zoo wrote in a Facebook post. A team of keepers and veterinarians from the D.C. zoo traveled with Kandula and will help him get settled into his new home. After his arrival, he enjoyed some watermelon and had a stroll in his new outdoor habitat. He’ll have a standard quarantine for 30 days before joining his herd. — Read it and watch it from the National Zoo via Facebook


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