Pet Scoop: Panda Cub Gets His Name, Hank the Cat Considers Run for Governor

Nov. 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.

The San Diego Zoo named its panda cub Xiao Liwu, which means little gift.

San Diego Panda Dubbed "Little Gift"

Following Chinese tradition, the San Diego Zoo waited until after its sixth panda cub was 100 days old before holding a traditional naming ceremony for him. On Tuesday, officials announced that mom Bai Yun’s youngest cub would be called Xiao Liwu, which means “little gift.” [Pronunciation is sshyaoww (falling then rising tone) lee (falling then rising tone) woo (falling tone).] The chosen name was one of 7,000 that were submitted to the zoo, with the explanation, “this cub is such a precious, little gift to our world.” The name was chosen by the public in a poll that had 35,000 votes. — Read it at the San Diego Zoo and watch a video showing how the cub has grown on YouTube

Human Presence Alters Wildlife on Appalachian Trail

A new study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute suggests that the wildlife that inhabits the famed Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, may be fleeing as humans descend on their home. Using 447 camera traps along 636-mile portion of the trail, researchers looked at how the distribution of eight mammal species has been changed by habitat loss, hunting, recreation and roads near the trail. Each of those factors was found to have varying impacts on species including bears, raccoons, bobcats, red foxes and deer. For example, thinning forests pushed bears and bobcats out, but attracted red foxes and raccoons. The findings were published in the online journal PLoS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

Scientists Hope to Find Extinct Chinese Dolphin

Headed to China's Yangtze River? Keep your eyes peeled. Researchers surveying the river for endangered finless porpoises are also on the lookout for white-flag dolphins, which were declared “functionally extinct” five years ago. While the classification means that the dolphins’ population is too small to effectively reproduce, the group is holding out hope of spotting them in the river. "There is still the possibility of finding one or two white-flag dolphins on the Yangtze," said Wang Kexiong, who’s the deputy head of the survey team. "We are looking forward to a miracle." — Read it at UPI

Is there another campaign in Hank's future?

What’s Next for Hank the Cat?

A week after an impressive third-place finish in the Virginia Senate race — where he received nearly 7,000 votes — 9-year-old Hank is considering his options. The Maine Coon’s fans are clamoring for him to jump into the state’s 2013 gubernatorial race, but his owners are “not sure about that.” They don’t want things to “go on for too long and cheapen the whole experience,” they said. Meanwhile, the campaign has actually seen a post-election increase in the sales of Hank campaign gear. Proceeds from the sales go to animal welfare groups, and the politically savvy kitty had already raised $16,000 in donations. — Read it at the Huffington Post

Aquarium’s Sea Lion Makes a 5-Year-Old Friend

Forget imaginary friends — Sean Goodman has something better. On his regular visits to the Aquarium of the Pacific in California, the 5-year-old hangs out with Milo, one of the sea lions. The boy traces an arc along the outside of Milo’s glass enclosure with his father’s keys, and the playful 6-year-old California sea lion chases after them. On their most recent playdate, Goodman’s photographer father was ready, and captured their adorable interaction on camera. “It’s pretty amazing — the sea lion tires my son out because he’ll never stop,” said dad John Goodman. — See photos at Today

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