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Jan. 24, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Charity Gives Second Chance to Kitty With Rare Disease
At 4 months old, Harvey doesn’t realize he’s different. The energetic kitten was born without bones connecting his paws to the bones in the upper part of his front legs, a rare condition called radical agenesis. Taken in by the Glasgow, Scotland, branch of the animal charity Cats Protection, Harvey lives in a foster home and gets around just fine on his elbows. "He’s a lovely little thing," said foster mom Liz McCulloch. “He … happily plays with my other cat and dog." But running around that way could damage Harvey’s spine as he gets older, so the charity raised $4,700 within just a few days to pay for surgery for the kitty. Harvey is now awaiting his operation and will be placed in a forever home once he recovers. — Read it at the Huffington Post
Decimated by hunters in the mid-1900s, the number of wild yaks is increasing in the Tibetan Plateau, according to a new census by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Yaks are listed as vulnerable — one step above endangered — by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Wild yaks are icons for the remote, untamed, high-elevation roof of the world,” researcher Joel Berger, who led the expedition to count the yaks, said in a statement. “While polar bears represent a sad disclaimer for a warming Arctic, the recent count of almost 1,000 wild yaks offers hope for the persistence of free-roaming large animals at the virtual limits of high-altitude wildlife.” — Read it at the Washington Post
Scientists were stunned to find that a pod of sperm whales in the North Atlantic Ocean seemed to have accepted a bottlenose dolphin with a rare spinal curvature into their group. Researchers saw the dolphin traveling and nuzzling with the sperm whales over a period of eight days in 2011. Sperm whales, who tend to be shy and aloof, have never been known to mingle this closely with another species. Scientists wonder if the dolphin couldn’t keep up with its own kind and was able to travel with the sperm whales because they move more slowly. "It's really puzzling to me," said ecologist Mónica Almeida e Silva. The study was published in the journal Aquatic Mammals. — See photos at Today
Dogs Adapted to Starchy Diet Thousands of Years Ago
A new study shows that dogs were better genetically equipped than wolves to become domesticated because their stomachs evolved to handle a starchy diet. Humans who lived off farmed foods show similar genetic changes when compared with humans who survived mostly on hunting and gathering, said study researcher Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden. "It's cool that we've shared an environment for such a long time and we've eaten the same kind of food for such a long time, that we have started to become more similar in that way," he told Live Science. The study was reported in the journal Nature. — Read it at Live Science
Catherine Violet Hubbard, a 6-year-old who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the tragic Dec. 14 shootings, adored animals. To honor her memory, her family asked that any donations in her name go to The Animal Center, a non-profit group in Newtown, Conn., that’s dedicated to animal rescue. Now, the group and the Hubbard family have announced plans to build The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, where abused, neglected or homeless animals can get a second chance in life. “Catherine loved all animals,” said the Hubbards. “She would chase down strangers just to pet their dogs, squeal with delight as butterflies landed on her arm and sit for hours watching baby birds in a nest. We would overhear her whispering to insects and animals … her words: tell all your friends that I’m kind.” — Find out more at The Animal Center
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