Pet Scoop: Hippo Birth Surprises Los Angeles Zoo Keepers, Kittens Graduate From Nursery

Nov. 5, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Birth control didn't stop hippo Mara from becoming pregnant with this calf at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Birth control didn't stop hippo Mara from becoming pregnant with this calf at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Baby Hippo Arrives Unexpectedly

Visitors to the Los Angeles Zoo got a rare Halloween treat Friday when they watched Mara, a 10-year-old hippopotamus, give birth. The baby was a surprise because the mom was on birth control, although Mara’s keepers suspected she was showing some signs that she was pregnant, including weight gain. Mara arrived at the zoo last December from the Topeka Zoo as a companion for 3-year-old male Adhama. The pair immediately hit it off. Mara is on birth control because breeding is closely monitored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program, according to a press release from the zoo. But the birth was a happy surprise. Mom and baby are doing well, and the staff is hoping to determine the sex of the calf when they can get close enough or can separate the two for the baby’s first check-up. — Read it at Today

Study: Scent Communication “Essential” for Polar Bear Reproduction

New research from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, Polar Bears International and the U.S. Geological Survey provides the first systematic examination of the information polar bears get from scents that other polar bears leave in their paw prints. The team says that form of communication could be at risk if climate change continues to create more loss of sea ice in the Arctic. "Effective communication is essential for successful reproduction in solitary, wide-ranging animals," said lead author Dr. Megan Owen. The trails also provide information that helps the bears avoid other polar bears who could be aggressive. The researchers said the scent trails could be disrupted because of the fracturing of melting sea ice. The study was published in the Journal of Zoology. — Read it at Science Daily

Could Drug Extend Dogs’ Lifespan?

Researchers at the University of Washington plan to investigate whether a drug used by transplant patients to prevent organ rejection could help with the health and longevity of dogs. Researcher Matthew Kaeberlein says the drug, Rapamycin, has improved the longevity of middle-aged mice by nearly 40 percent with few side effects. He and his research partner, Daniel Promislow, want to test the drug on several breeds of medium and large size dogs who are between the ages of 5 and 7 and study the impact over the following five years. "The real goal is to delay the chronic and degenerate diseases of aging as long as possible, and that's what we see in the mice and that's what we expect to see in dogs," Kaeberlein said. They’re planning to start the project in the next six months. — Read it at Seattle’s KOMO News

Nearly 300 kittens have graduated from the ASPCA's new kitten nursery during this year's kitten season.
Nearly 300 kittens have graduated from the ASPCA's new kitten nursery during this year's kitten season.

ASPCA's Kitten Commencement

With the end of kitten season, an adorable class of kittens graduated from the ASPCA’s new kitten nursery in New York Tuesday. The nursery opened in June, during the height of kitten season. Nearly 300 kittens who were taken in with their nursing moms or as orphans have graduated since then. They received extensive around-the-clock medical care and behavioral rehabilitation during the months they spent at the nursery from specially trained ASPCA staff and volunteers. The graduates, who’ve been microchipped, vaccinated and spayed or neutered, are put up for adoption at 8 weeks old at the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan. — Read it from the ASPCA

Animal Control Officer Rescues Bald Eagle

Photographer Mike Powell happened to be nearby when a Fairfax County, Virginia, animal control officer came to the aid of an injured bald eagle in a local park’s marshland. With the help of a park visitor, the officer was able to rescue the eagle with only a blanket. Powell got some stunning photos of the eagle before it was taken to a rehabilitation center. He said the initial report is that the bird had a dislocated joint in one of its wings, and had a good prognosis for recovery. — See photos from Photographer Mike Powell’s Blog


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!