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Jan. 8, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
After multiple surgeries and more than 3,000 hours of care, Walter the sea otter is settling in to his permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium. Walter was rescued from the shoreline in British Colombia in October by the aquarium’s marine mammal rescue team after he was reported to be lethargic and uncharacteristically approachable. He was suffering from injuries to his right flipper, several teeth and his eyes due to a shotgun blast. Although doctors weren’t able to save the otter’s eyesight, he made a slow but steady recovery from his injuries thanks to intensive care at the aquarium’s rescue center. Because he can’t be released into the wild, Walter was transported to the Vancouver Aquarium on Tuesday, where he’ll take up residence with three other rescued sea otters who get ongoing care there.
The small animals frequently pop up on their hind legs while foraging, throw their front paws in the air and let out a cry that sounds like “wee-oo.” The behavior spreads quickly through the pack the way that fans at a sports stadium would do the wave. But why do prairie dogs do this? A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that they do the “jump-yip” as a test to make sure their neighbors are on alert. If they get a lot of responses, they let down their guard slightly, focusing more on foraging and less on scanning the horizon for predators. "They are capitalizing on others' awareness and actively probing that awareness,” said James Hare, a study researcher from the University of Manitoba in Canada. — Read it at Live Science
Pet care experts including Dr. Marty Becker report that in 2013, we averaged one pet food or treat recall every 11 days. Among the top problems with the food were microbial contamination with pathogens like salmonella, contaminants including plastic and gas, and problems with the balance of nutrients. The experts also offered advice to avoid problems with bad food, including rotating pet food frequently, scooping the food with a clean measuring cup, and washing pet food dishes after every meal. — Read it at the Pet Connection column via Philly.com
A commuter with a keen eye spotted a gray cat stuck in a scary position on an Interstate 80 off ramp in San Francisco, and helped save his life. After noticing the cat in the same spot for a couple of days, the man called the city’s Animal Care and Control center. An officer from the center was able to stop traffic and pick up the kitty to bring him to a local shelter. When no one came forward to claim the cat, the Good Samaritan who first called to report the danger he was in came in to adopt him — and named him Freeway. — Read it and see photos from Animal Care and Control San Francisco
At the Red River Zoo in Fargo, N.D., many animals who are given access to both their yards and indoor enclosures have chosen to keep warm inside. (Some of the animals have had their outdoor access temporarily restricted for their safety.) But with temperatures dipping to 16 below zero and a wind chill of minus 41 degrees, there was one group who was quite happy to play outside: the zoo’s wolf pack. “They’re playing and rolling around. They appear to be having a great day,” said the zoo’s Sally Jacobson. — Read it and watch video at Fargo’s In Forum
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