Pet Scoop: Llama Visits Washington Hospitals, Jimmy Fallon Asks: Is Your Dog Weird?

April 10, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Rojo the llama visits a young patient in an Oregon hospital.

Move Over, Therapy Dogs!

Turns out, dogs aren't the only animals that can make people feel better. Meet Rojo the llama and Napoleon, his alpaca friend, a pair of unique therapy animals from Vancouver, Wash. Rojo “grew up to be this amazing huggable, lovable llama and somebody at a fair came up to us and said you should get him certified for therapy,” said Lori Gregory. Gregory took the advice to heart, and started Mnt. Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas. Now, her therapy teams dress up with flowers and little hats, and visit hospitals and senior centers. “[Rojo is] such a quiet, gentle, peaceful soul … it’s like he really knows how special he is and how special the kids are,” said Kelly Schmidt of the Providence Children’s Center in Oregon. “It’s very a contagious spirit to have Rojo around because it’s just so unusual.” — Watch it at CNN

Dog Found 900 Miles From Home

Nine months after an Italian Greyhound was stolen from the front yard of his family’s Illinois home, Dauz was found some 900 miles away, in Virginia. “I was shaking. I was crying. I’ve never been so happy. It was like a dream getting that call,” said owner Alicia Dausman. “I can’t believe they found Dauz.” The pup, whose name comes from the family’s last name, was given to a couple in Virginia who took care of him, but he ran off recently and wound up at a shelter in Fairfax, Va. There, the staff discovered his microchip and called the Dausmans, who immediately made a road trip to bring Dauz home. “It’s a dream come true,” Dausman said. — Read it at ABC News

Male Birds Attracted to Nice Nests

If a female blue tit wants to catch a good partner, she’s going to need a nicely decorated home, according to new research. Female blue tits that build bigger nests with more fragrant plants attract males who are more willing to help them raise their chicks, finds a new study from Spain. The nice nests may be a signal to the males that the female is healthy, and therefore a good mating partner, said study co-author Gustavo Tomás. "The effort devoted by males is very important in the success of the females and in how many chicks will survive," said Tomás. The study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. — Read it at Live Science

The striped bat was found in South Sudan.

New Bat Genus Bears Stripes

With stripes like a badger, a rare bat found in South Sudan is so different from other bats that it now has a new genus, which is a taxonomy ranking that’s a step up from a species. "My attention was immediately drawn to the bat's strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before," said Bucknell University’s DeeAnn Reeder. Although the bat turned out to be the same as one that was found in the Congo in 1939, Reeder and her fellow researchers didn’t think it belonged in the genus that it had been placed in. "Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears — literally everything you look at doesn't fit. It's so unique that we need to create a new genus," she said. They created the genus Niumbaha, which means rare in Zande, for the bat. Their findings were published in the journal ZooKeys. — Read it at Science Daily

Jimmy Fallon Calls For Weird Pet Pics

Usually, it’s the adorable things pets do that get them attention on the Internet. But Jimmy Fallon, the Late Night host who’ll soon take over the Tonight Show, confessed on Instagram that his Golden Retriever, Gary, “likes to eat her bed” — and he wants to know what strange habits his viewers’ pets have. "Post a #mypetisweird pic on Instagram and we'll put it on our show this week!" he Tweeted Monday. — Read it at People Pets

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