Pet Scoop: Oscar Host's Cat: Two Paws Up, Bird Population Loss Blamed on Pesticides

Feb. 26, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

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Seth MacFarlane's cat says he did a good job hosting the Oscars — but not everyone agrees.

Furry Critic Approves Performance

Everyone’s a critic. After his first (and what he says will be his only) time hosting the Academy Awards, writer, actor and comedian Seth MacFarlane caught quite a bit of criticism on Monday for his edgy humor. Some thought his jokes went too far, while others thought he was funny — and exactly what they expected. But will MacFarlane’s feline friend have the final word? On Monday night, the host tweeted, "My cat said the show went well," along with a picture of his pet. — Read it at Yahoo

Plus: One last word on that puppy purse that Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis walked the red carpet with on Sunday: it has a name! "This is a special dog … It's renamed after my puppy I have at home — Sandy," she told Ryan Seacrest during the red carpet coverage on E! — Read it at People Pets

Why Are Grassland Birds Disappearing?

While it has long been assumed that habitat loss has been the cause of the decline of grassland birds like the Vesper Sparrow, the Ring-necked Pheasant and the Horned Lark, a new study by a prominent Canadian toxicologist finds that acute toxic pesticides are most likely the primary cause of their population loss. “The data suggest that loss of birds in agricultural fields is more than an unfortunate consequence of pest control; it may drive bird populations to local extinction," said Dr. Pierre Mineau, who conducted the study. The findings were published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Plus: New research from the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that some bird species keep their distance from homes while others like getting cozy with their human neighbors. — Read it at Science Daily

Pet Spending Hits a New High

People may have been feeling the pinch from a tough economy in 2012, but they didn’t pass it on to their pets. Instead, Americans spent a new record of $53 billion on their four-legged friends last year, according to the American Pet Products Association. That’s a 5 percent increase over 2011, when the number hit $50 billion. The number includes a 10 percent increase in spending on luxuries like grooming and hotels. — Read it at PawNation

One of the chicks warms up with mom at the Mystic Aquarium.

Two African Penguin Chicks Hatch

These two little ones will soon be waddling into visitors’ hearts at Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium. Hatched on Feb. 1 and Feb. 10, the baby penguins weighed 696 grams and 281 grams, respectively. The little ones aren’t yet able to maintain their own body heat, so they find warmth by snuggling with their parents. The chicks will be named after they’re fully fledged and their gender is determined by a DNA test — around 6 months old. — Read it at Zooborns

Chicago Dog Reunited With Owner

Pifas, the dog who was rescued from the ice on Lake Michigan, is back home with his owner, Nerijus Steponavicius. In accordance with city protocol, the 3-year-old dog had to be neutered and undergo several tests before he could be released to Steponavicius. But despite his harrowing experience, Pifas’ owner says he hasn’t changed. “He’s always … so full of energy,” he said. — Read it at the Chicago Tribune

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