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August 24, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Mom Mei Xiang surprised the panda team at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Saturday with the birth of not one but two panda cubs. Late last week, veterinarians spotted a fetus on an ultrasound, and Mei went into labor Saturday afternoon. Her first cub was born at 5:35 p.m., and she was cradling it in her arms when her second baby was born at 10:07 p.m. Although they were each only the size of a stick of butter, both squawked loudly at birth. When pandas have twins in the wild, they will often only care for one and allow the other to die. So Mei’s keepers are following a twin protocol that’s proved successful in China and at Zoo Atlanta, where the first surviving set of panda twins in the U.S. were born in 2013. The keepers continually swap the twins, leaving one with mom to nurse and bond while the other spends time in the nursery. The cubs have squealed loudly as they’ve been removed, but the keepers have been able to do it several times now without incident. "It's very rare, obviously, for them to manage two cubs. If she were able to do it, we would certainly let her," said panda biologist Laurie Thompson. "She couldn't figure out how to hold both of them.” The first few days are critical for pandas but the team is optimistic about the cubs’ chances of survival. The cubs were born just one day before big sister Bao Bao’s 2nd birthday. — Read it from the AP via Yahoo
A frail 16-year-old white Miniature Poodle found in a small Massachusetts town is on her way back home — to Concord, North Carolina. Her owners say they let Coco out on their lawn to relieve herself, and when they looked away for a second, she was gone. The blind and deaf dog wasn’t wearing a collar at the time, and didn’t have a microchip. On Aug. 9, an animal control officer in Belchertown, Massachusetts, got a call about a stray poodle on the road. She picked Coco up and posted a picture of her on Facebook. She got a call from someone who said their neighbor had picked the dog up in North Carolina and brought her home to Massachusetts, but then abandoned her. The animal control officer posted the story on a Facebook page used by animal control officers, asking if someone from North Carolina could help. Angela Lee, an animal control officer in Clayton, North Carolina, stepped up and spread the word on local lost-dog sites — and Coco’s owner, Toby Brooks, was found. After two volunteer flights, Coco is staying with Lee until she can be reunited with Brooks on Tuesday. “This is the best feeling ever to know she’s going to be home. That’s where she needs to be,” Lee said. — Read it at North Carolina’s News and Observer
It’s not easy being a tiny bird trying to sing over the noise of human-made activity like traffic. New research by a team at the University of Exeter in the U.K. finds that male bluebirds are able to alter their songs in real time in response to intensifying noise levels around them, making them louder and lower-pitched and more likely to be heard by potential mates or rivals. Real-time modifications to songs have now been found in five different avian species, and this was the first in the thrush family. The study was published in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology. — Read it at Science Daily
When Boston Police trainers couldn’t agree on a name for its newest “wicked cute” K9 recruit, they turned to the public for help — and they got an outpouring of ideas. More than 20,000 suggestions for names for the 9-week-old Belgian Malinois came in. On Friday, the BPD announced its choice with the help of kids from its Jr. Police Academy. The puppy will be known as Viggo. “Like everybody else, I wish Viggo a long, healthy and happy career with the BPD and I look forward to monitoring his progress in the years to come,” said Commissioner William Evans. — Read it from the Boston Police Department
One beat the odds to become a therapy dog after being found abused as a puppy near railroad tracks in Albany, New York. Another is a guide dog from Virginia who saved the life of her handler’s newborn son. And a third is a Massachusetts police dog who’s credited with saving his partner from being shot by a suspect. They’re just three of the eight amazing finalists for the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Award for 2015. You can vote once daily until September 7 at noon E.T. The 5th annual awards show, hosted by Beth Stern and James Denton, and will air on the Hallmark Channel on October 30. — Vote at HeroDogAwards.org
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