Pet Scoop: Hiker and Dog Saved in Dramatic Cliffside Rescue, Park Welcomes Baby Giraffe

December 30, 2011: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Hiker and dog on cliff
ABC News
Ivan Salas and his dog, Lola, were rescued from an L.A. cliff.

Firefighters Rescue a Hiker and Dog From a California Cliff

A 19-year-old hiker and his German Shepherd were plucked from a precipice in Los Angeles on Thursday via a rope rescue that looked like something out of the movies. Hiker Ivan Salas said his dog, Lola, ran after a bottle that Salas’ father had tossed over the side — and Ivan went after her. A helicopter rescue was too dangerous, so firefighters rappelled in and lowered the pair to the ground during a 90-minute operation. — Watch it at ABC News

2011 Was a Tough Year for Elephants

Estimates show that poachers killed as many as 3,000 elephants in 2011, making it the worst year on record for the animals since ivory sales were banned in 1989. — Read it at the BBC News

Plus: The Los Angeles Zoo says that it doesn’t plan to make security changes after a rather determined woman managed to get inside the elephant exhibit. — Read it at the LA Times

Chimps Analyze What Their Brethren Know Before Sounding Any Alarms

A new study suggests that chimpanzees are capable of recognizing knowledge and ignorance in fellow chimps, marking an important stage in the evolution of language. For example, if chimpanzees saw a snake, they would look to see whether their kin or mates were already aware of the snake before alerting them to the danger. — Read it at Science Daily

baby giraffe in Tampa
Busch Gardens
A baby giraffe was just born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Tampa Park Welcomes Baby Giraffe

It’s a girl! A new baby giraffe, weighing in at 127 pounds, was born on Tuesday at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Her mom, Tesa, has given birth to four other calves at the park. In about three months, Tesa and her little one will join the 16 other giraffes that are part of the park’s Serengeti Plain herd.

Plus: It looks like Siku the baby polar bear has some competition: An aquarium in China showed off its twin polar bear cubs — the second set born to a pair of bears that were given to China by Finland. — Watch it at Today

Can You Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash?

A New Yorker with a cat named Mac who yearned to roam outside writes about the pros and cons of walking a feline on a leash. — Read it at The New York Times

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