Pet Scoop: Lost Service Dog Returns During Interview, Zoo Hand-Rears Newborn Gorilla

Dec. 14, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Jason Cooper had an emotional reunion on camera with his missing service dog, Radar.
Jason Cooper had an emotional reunion on camera with his missing service dog, Radar.

Dog Returns as Cameras Roll

Local TV station LEX 18 was interviewing a Kentucky couple at their home last week about their lost service dog when the Labrador Retriever suddenly appeared, about a half mile away. Owner Jason Cooper spotted Radar on the other side of a fence and went running to get him — with a cameraman on his trail. The two jumped fences and went through a creek before the reporter captured Cooper’s emotional reunion with his dog. Radar, who’d helped the family through the loss of their two young daughters to a genetic disorder, had been missing for four days. “He's one of the only souls who has the same memories and experience as we do,” said Carolyn Cooper. “I had hope, but I was afraid, this is the most amazing thing, I can't believe it,” said Jason, through tears. It’s unclear who helped bring Radar back home, but the Coopers are grateful to them. — Watch it at People Pets

Photo of Injured Military Dog With Purple Heart Goes Viral

A photo of Rocky, a military police dog who was injured in Afghanistan this month, has captured a lot of attention on social media. In the photo, Rocky is resting in a hospital in Germany with a Purple Heart medal displayed on his collar. The dog and his handler, Spc. Andrew Brown, were injured when a bomb exploded while they were searching a building for explosive materials. “The Army typically does not process awards for our working dogs the same way we do for our other soldiers,” Army spokesman Sgt. Michal Garrett told the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald. “The Purple Heart in the photo was placed on Rocky as a sign of respect and solidarity between him and Brown during their recovery.” The photo was shared by Fort Hood’s 89th Military Police Brigade on Facebook, and went viral. Both Brown and Rocky, who suffered a broken leg, are expected to recover from their injuries. Brown has been transferred to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Rocky is expected to return to Fort Hood in the coming weeks. — Read it at Fox News

Study: All Birds Descend From One Ancestor

A new study finds every bird alive today has a common ancestor that lived in South America 95 million years ago. “This ancestor would have looked like a bird, not like a dinosaur, and might have been capable of full flight, like many other birds from the Late Cretaceous,” said study co-author Joel Cracraft of the American Museum of Natural History. However, the precise identity of this species remains a mystery. The researchers did determine that the common ancestor lived in South America for at least 25 million years before major changes started to occur. The study was published in the journal Science Advances. — Read it at Discovery News

The animal care team at the Woodland Park Zoo is hand raising an infant Western lowland gorilla.
The animal care team at the Woodland Park Zoo is hand raising an infant Western lowland gorilla.

Rare Gorilla Gets Hand-Reared

A critically endangered newborn Western lowland gorilla is being hand-reared at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle because her first-time mom walked away after she was born, rather than picking up her baby. But the zoo hasn’t given up on a relationship between Nadiri and her infant, who was born on Nov. 20. Keepers are feeding and caring for the baby around the clock, but each day, they’re making several attempts to introduce her to her mom. The baby is staying in a den next to Nadiri and two other members of the group, where they can see each other. “Nadiri consistently enters the den for each introduction session. While she still hasn’t picked up her baby, she remains next to her. When the baby cries, she sometimes touches her in a calming manner. When Nadiri is in her own den, she watches her baby and grunts contentedly,” said the zoo’s mammal curator, Martin Ramirez. “It isn’t strong maternal behavior yet, but we’re encouraged by these positive sessions and gestures of interest.” — Read it at Zooborns

Neighbor Adopts Cat Abandoned in Apartment

Walter the cat has a new home, thanks to his concerned neighbor. Tom could hear the loud meows of a cat coming from the apartment next door to him in Fargo, North Dakota, according to the Homeward Animal Shelter. But he says the landlord wasn’t cooperating with his pleas to open the apartment and search for the cat. Luckily, Walter took matters into his own paws. It turns out, Tom could hear his cries so loudly because he was inside the wall between the two apartments, and found his way to Tom through some ductwork. Finally, Tom was able to rescue him by opening a vent cover. Now, Tom has adopted the cat, who he named Walter after his adventure inside the walls. Walter has a comfortable new home just in time for the holidays. — Read it at North Dakota’s Valley News Live


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