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June 11, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
An orphaned rhino is stealing hearts with a viral video showing his sweet bond with his new keeper at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center in South Africa. Last month, the devastated calf was found crying by his mom, who’d been killed by poachers for her horn at the Kapama Private Game Reserve. Named Gertjie by his caretakers, the 242-pound calf is adapting well to his new life at the sanctuary, where he takes long walks, drinks 50 ounces of formula eight times a day — and likes to relax by laying his head affectionately in a female staffer’s lap.— Watch it at ABC News
Plus: Prince William is teaming up with soccer star David Beckham to launch a campaign aiming to protect wild animals including rhinos, elephants, tigers and lions from illegal poaching. The celebrity pair promoted the new hashtag #WhoseSideAreYouOn for the Duke of Cambridge’s United for Wildlife organization. — Read it at Today
Experiments by evolutionary anthropologists at Duke University show that endangered bonobos share resources with bonobos they don't know and exhibit contagious yawning, which is considered to be a form of empathy. Bonobos are the only known nonhuman primate to show these behaviors. The findings may reveal an evolutionary reason for human behavior including kindness and helpfulness. "Certainly culture and education play an important role in the development of human altruism, but the bonobo finding tells us that even the most extreme form of human tolerance and altruism is in part driven by our genes," says researcher Jingzhi Tan. — Read it at National Geographic
Keepers want Tess, an Asian elephant at the Houston Zoo, to lose a whopping 500 pounds before she gives birth to a calf in a little over a year. "There's the risk of the calf getting stuck, the calf getting too big," said Daryl Hoffman, curator of large mammals at the zoo. "We think it's better to try to be proactive to take a bit (of weight) off her ... it's easier and safer to take it off now than closer to the birth." Tess is nine months pregnant, and elephants have a gestation period of about 22 months. She’s been put on a strict diet and is walking up to two miles a day to get her heart rate up. That’s in addition to her regular yoga routine, which helps her and the other members of her herd build their muscle tone. Hoffman says it’s a realistic weight loss goal for Tess, who weighs more than 7,000 pounds. — Read it at the Houston Chronicle
After being rejected by his mother, Ruuxa the cheetah, is being hand-raised by his keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. But his keepers didn’t want the 6-week-old cub, who didn’t have any littermates, to be lonely. So, they’ve paired him with Raina, a 7-week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy who will be his lifelong companion. “When they do take naps they'll very often snuggle together to get that warmth and that closeness, but they definitely play together,” the zoo’s Susie Ekard told San Diego 6. Dogs are sometimes paired with cheetahs because they’ve been found to help put the cats at ease. Their body language reassures the cheetah when there’s nothing to fear. — Watch it at Fox 5 San Diego
Representing the estimated 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild, 1,600 papier-mâché versions of the black and white bears are making their way around the world. The pandas, created by French sculptor Paulo Grangeon, have been traveling since 2008, but they made headlines this week when they landed at the Hong Kong International Airport. The pandas have visited Paris, Tapei and Berlin, among other cities, to promote conservation for the endangered animals. — See photos at CNN
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