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Dec. 9, 2016: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Gigi is home for the holidays — nine long years after she disappeared. The Toy Poodle had belonged to Sally Butters’ mother before she died, and the tiny dog went missing during a burglary at Butters’ California home. Butters still has the posters she put up in the area when Gigi disappeared so many years ago. This week, she finally got a call saying her dog had been found on a road 20 miles from home, and her microchip revealed she belonged to Butters. “I'm shocked. Because you always hope you'll get your dog back. But you know, nine years, and at 13 years old, she's still alive,” a tearful Butters said. “What a Christmas present.” — Watch it at Sacramento’s Fox 40
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the world’s tallest mammal now faces the threat of extinction due to habitat loss and illegal hunting. Before giraffes were reassessed, the IUCN considered them a species of least concern. But officials now say their numbers have dropped by 40 percent in the last 30 years. There are nine giraffe subspecies, and the group found that while three are increasing and one is stable, five show declining numbers. — Read it at Live Science
A male jaguar was photographed last week in Fort Huachuca, Arizona — only the sixth of the big cats to be documented in the Southwest in the last 20 years. There was a male known as El Jefe who was photographed in the Santa Rita Mountains from 2012 to 2015, but this is believed to be a different male. The new male is estimated to weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. His photo was captured by a trail camera located in rocky, heavily forested terrain, officials said. — See photo at Tucson.com
In a heartbreaking video, a loyal dog visited her dying owner in the hospital to say goodbye. Ryan Jessen suffered a brain hemorrhage at just 33 years old, and doctors said he couldn’t be saved. Knowing how much Mollie meant to Ryan, his family wanted her to be able to see him one last time. “The hospital did the sweetest thing for us and allowed us to bring my brother’s dog in to ‘say goodbye’ so she’d know why her human never came home. If you knew my brother, he really loved his sweet dog,” Ryan’s sister Michelle Jessen wrote in a Facebook post with the bittersweet video, which has now been viewed more than 9 million times. Mollie is now serving as a comfort to Ryan’s grieving family, and she will continue to live with them. — Watch it at People Pets
A kitten who’s just a few weeks old is lucky to be alive after being shrink-wrapped by a warehouse machine before being shipped 500 miles in a UPS truck. Last week, a UPS driver in Memphis heard a sound in the back of his truck and found the 5-to-8-week-old kitten trapped with a box that had originated four days earlier in Chicago. He brought the kitten to his own pets’ veterinarian, Dr. Carolyn McCutcheon. “He was pretty dehydrated and hungry... He was shrink-wrapped flat with his four legs out. So it took a while for his legs to work again and for him to move his head again," she said. "Probably he was in the warehouse, [the machine] scared him, he ran up the [packaging] and the machine just went around him.” The kitten, who’s been adopted and named Joey, is still recovering and will likely be able to go to his new home next week. — Read it at UPI
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