Pet Scoop: Many Species Self-Medicate, Rescued Dog Feels Grass for First Time

April 15, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A chimpanzee eats plants

Study: Some Wild Animals Are Their Own Doctors

Take two leaves and call me in the morning? A review in the latest issue of Science finds that a surprising number of wild animals have figured out ways to use natural medicines to heal what ails them, including herbs, resins, alcohol and even nicotine. Primates are particularly good at doctoring themselves. Many of them have discovered that eating rough leaves, for example, can help clean the parasites from their intestines. Others, including the monarch butterfly, fruit flies and caterpillars have also been known to self-medicate, but in those species, the behavior is innate rather than conscious, researchers said. — Read it at NPR

Chihuahua Adopts Rejected Meerkat

In the U.K., one wild animal, a baby meerkat, is getting a little help from a domesticated one in an unusual arrangement. When the meerkat, Wilson, who was the runt of his litter, was abandoned by his mom after he was born in January, staff at the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre in Lincolnshire decided to see if Kimi, a Chihuahua, would play mom to the little one — and it worked. Kimi, who was experiencing a phantom pregnancy at the time, started nursing Wilson, as well as giving him rides on her back and snuggling with him in her basket. Now, nearly two months later, the two are inseparable, and Wilson is thriving. — Read it at the U.K.’s Daily Mail

Animals Rights Becomes Flash Point in N.Y. Mayoral Election

There’s an unexpected hot topic in the early days for the mayoral election in New York City. Protests for animal rights are drawing thousands of supporters, including celebrities Alec Baldwin, Lea Michele and Gloria Steinem. The biggest debate is whether the city should put an end to its famed horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park. A group of horse lovers have put up $1 million for an attack ad on candidate Christine Quinn, who supports the carriage rides, but the same candidate drew loud applause recently for pledging to seek a no-kill policy for animal shelters in New York. — Read it at The New York Times

Lizzy, who spent her life in a puppy mill, walks on grass for the first time.
Lizzy, who spent her life in a puppy mill, walks on grass for the first time.

Puppy Mill Dog Walks on Grass

For most dogs, feeling the grass under their paws is completely natural. But for Lizzy, a puppy mill dog who spent 12 long years kept in a small cage, it was a whole new experience. The dog was rescued by National Mill Dog Rescue workers last month, and was immediately adopted by a loving family. One of their first tasks was to get Lizzy used to the grass. — Watch it at the Huffington Post

Rare Pygmy Hippo Debuts in Texas

At 7 weeks old, a critically endangered pygmy hippopotamus swam out to meet visitors for the first time recently with his mom at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. The zoo will soon announce a naming contest for the baby boy, who rarely leaves his mom’s side. Native to West Africa, little is known about the secretive species. There are fewer than 3,000 of them left in the wild. — See photos at Zooborns


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