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Jan. 20, 2016: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
A shelter cat with a striking resemblance to actor Adam Driver, who played Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” got a new home Monday — just as photos of him and the hashtag #kylorencat were going viral. Emily McCombs, 32, of Brooklyn, New York, adopted the 2-year-old Balinese mix from the Monmouth County SPCA in New Jersey. The shelter had posted the cat’s picture on Instagram Friday, and it quickly took off online because people thought he looked so much like the actor. McCombs has named the cat Kylo Ren, but luckily he’s far from evil. “He has the exact opposite of Kylo Ren’s personality. He is the opposite of villainous,” she said. “So many people have fallen in love with the way he looks, and obviously I did too, but once I got him home, it turns out he has the most amazing personality. He’s loving and sweet. He’s a supreme snuggler.” And, you can now follow his adventures on his Instagram, @catam_driver. — Read it at Time
A newly published study examined the changes in brain circuitry that happen as a young male zebra finch listens to his father’s song. The fathers teach their young male chicks a courtship song. As the young birds listen to their father sing, networks of brain cells are activated that the younger bird will later use to sing the song himself, researchers said. Inhibitory cells suppress further activity in the area and help sculpt the courtship song into a permanent memory. “These inhibitory cells are really smart — once you’ve gotten a part of the song down, the area gets locked,” said Michael Long, an author of the study and a neuroscientist at NYU Langone Medical Center. Once they’ve learned the song and reach sexual maturity, at about 100 days old, the birds ignore their father’s tutoring. The findings were published in the journal Science. — Read it at The New York Times
An endangered North Atlantic right whale was seen this month off the coast of South Carolina for the first time in three years. One of the rarest whales in the world, it was nicknamed Chiminea. It was sighted this month near Folly Beach. The whales were heavily hunted for their blubber, and dropped to a population of just 263 in 1996. Thanks to protections, the species has started to make a comeback, with 526 individuals documented in 2014. — Read it at the Huffington Post
A 120-pound Newfoundland likely saved the life of a loggerhead sea turtle she found lying on a Massachusetts beach last week. Veda was walking ahead of her owners, Leah and Brad Bares, when she moved toward the water and lay down. When they got closer, her owners realized she was lying beside a large turtle, who was camouflaged by piles of seaweed that had washed ashore with a storm the day before. They started making calls to get help for the stranded turtle. William Gray, a nearby resident and a volunteer with the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay, arrived and got the cold-stunned, 40-pound loggerhead to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. There, the turtle’s dangerously low body temperature has slowly been brought up, and it has a promising prognosis, the NEA said. The aquarium has named the creature Newfie, in honor of its hero. — Read it at CBS Boston
Hemi, who the Connell family rescued from a car engine when he was a kitten, disappeared four years ago, while the family was living in North Carolina. When his owner, Robert Connell, left the Marines, the family moved 1,700 miles away to North Dakota for him to take a new job. Last week, his wife, Jennifer, got a surprise call from animal control in Craven County, North Carolina, with the good news that Hemi had been found safe. But there was a problem. Robert Connell was recently laid off, and the family doesn’t have the money to get Hemi home to his family. Luckily, more than 40 people have jumped in to help raise the money for them to drive to North Carolina and get Hemi, or fly him home. Within just three days, they’ve contributed $1,330 toward the Connells’ goal of $1,500 on GoFundMe. — Read it at People Pets
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