Pet Scoop: Natalie Morales Stars in Shelter Dog PSA, New Owl Found on Indonesian Island

Feb. 14, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Today co-anchor Natalie Morales and her adopted dog, Zara, star in a PSA for shelter dogs.
Today co-anchor Natalie Morales and her adopted dog, Zara, star in a PSA for shelter dogs.
Anchor Advocates Animal Adoption

Zara has the inside scoop on a Today show co-anchor, and the pooch is spilling the beans in a new PSA where she stars alongside her adoptive owner, Natalie Morales. (She’s not really a morning person and she sings in the shower!) It’s part of a series called “Today Takes Action,” in which each of the show’s anchors chose a social issue that was close to their heart, and worked with the Ad Council to produce a PSA on the topic, as well as a longer piece for the morning show. Morales, who fell in love with Zara after doing a segment on pet adoption for the show in 2011, chose shelter pets. “I had to have her,” Morales said of meeting Zara. Her adoption success story inspired her co-anchor, Al Roker, to adopt a dog, too, and she hopes the ad will lead to more forever homes for shelter dogs. — Watch it on YouTube

Banana Joe Celebrates in Style

The little dog with the monkey-like face and the big title — Westminster’s Best in Show — got a meal made for a champion at New York’s famous Sardi’s restaurant on Wednesday. It’s a traditional stop for the winner of the prestigious dog show after making the rounds on the morning talk show circuit. There, Joey indulged in filet mignon, presented on a silver platter, to mark his triumphant win, before heading off to his retirement. — See photos at Yahoo

Humans Bring Stress to African Elephants

Elephants who stray outside the borders of Serengeti National Park in Kenya and in Grumeti Game Reserve and Ikoma Open Area in Tanzania have higher stress levels than those who stay inside the protected areas, finds a new study. The reason for their stress may be that they now associate the motor vehicles they encounter with people and hunting, said research team member Dr. Eivin Roskaft of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “Elephants probably remember where they are, and that bad experiences stress them," Roskaft said. The study was published in the African Journal of Ecology. — Read it at PawNation

The Rinjani scops owl was discovered on the Indonesian island of Lombok.
Philippe Verbelen
The Rinjani scops owl was discovered on the Indonesian island of Lombok.

New Owl Species Found in Indonesia

It was the unique call of the Rinjani scops owl that gave it away. It was heard by two members of a research team during a 2003 trip to the Indonesian island of Lombok, while they were on separate ends of the island. "I did not expect to find a new species, and certainly not one that is this common," said George Sangster, study co-author and a researcher with the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The new species is described in the journal PLOS One. — Read it at Live Science

Do You Have a Pet Valentine?

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for humans. One in five Americans will spend a collective $815 million on Valentine’s treats for their dogs, cats and even birds, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Meanwhile, a survey by the American Pet Products Association reveals that many fish, horses and a variety of “small animals” will also be getting something special today. — Read it at USA Today

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