Pet Scoop: Panda Faked Pregnancy for Food, Orphaned Cougar Cub Gets a New Home

August 28, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Giant panda Ai Hin's keepers suspect she faked a pregnancy to get better food and accommodations at the Chengdu Research Base in China.
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Giant panda Ai Hin's keepers suspect she faked a pregnancy to get better food and accommodations at the Chengdu Research Base in China.

Panda Fooled Her Keepers

Zookeepers at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda breeding in China suspect 6-year-old female Ai Hin faked her pregnancy to get the kind of care she saw the pregnant bears were getting. "After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care," said Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu base, according to Chinese media. "They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life." Pandas often have false pregnancies, but keepers say Ai Hin showed signs that she was expecting for almost two months and then started acting normally. She had her keepers so convinced that she was slated to make history by becoming the first panda to give birth in a live broadcast. Sounds like one smart bear! — Read it at CNN

Sheepdogs’ Herding Secrets Revealed

How does one sheepdog manage to get so many sheep to move in the same direction? Researchers fitted an Australian Kelpie sheepdog with a GPS tracking device while it herded a flock of 46 sheep in a 12-acre field, then used the data to create a computer model to show what prompted the dog to move and how it responded. They found that the dog’s top concern is the group’s cohesion. The dog moves from side to side at the sheeps’ backs to bind them together, then moves them forward. "At every step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not,” said Daniel Stroembom of Uppsala University in Sweden. "If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it's already cohesive, the dog will push the herd towards the target." The study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. — Read it from Agence France Presse via Discovery News

Study: Yawning Is Contagious in Wolves, Too

A new study from Japan finds that much like humans and dogs, wolves yawn when they see another wolf do it. Yawning is thought to be a social cue that communicates information and can be an indication of empathy. The researchers observed yawning among a pack of 12 wolves at a zoo in Tokyo over the course of five months. They found that not only were yawns contagious among the pack, but that the pack members who had the strongest bond with the yawn instigator yawned more frequently. Also, females reacted more quickly to yawns than males did. The researchers said their findings could be an indication that wolves have the capacity for empathy. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

An orphaned cougar cub who was found on a homeowner's porch in Washington state has a new home at ZooAmerica in Pennsylvania.
ZooAmerica
An orphaned cougar cub who was found on a homeowner's porch in Washington state has a new home at ZooAmerica in Pennsylvania.

Rescued Cub Can’t Be Released

This handsome mountain lion cub was just 3 weeks old when he was found dehydrated and malnourished on the front porch of a home in Spokane, Washington. The homeowner quickly called authorities, who searched for the baby lion’s mother, but couldn’t find her. The cub needed human help to survive and can’t be released now. “You just don’t rehabilitate an apex predator that’s become fixed on people and release it back into the wild,” said Madonna Luers of the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife. “The odds that it would eventually have contact with people or pets are too high.” Last week, he arrived at his new home at ZooAmerica in Hershey, Pennsylvania and is doing well. The photogenic kitten is spending time off exhibit for now and hasn’t yet been named. — Read it at Zooborns and see more cute zoo baby photos

Newsflash: Hello Kitty Is Not a Cat

You might want to sit down for this. Sanrio, the company that owns the beloved 40-year-old Hello Kitty character, says that despite her name (and whiskers), she’s not a feline. "She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat,” Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist with the University of Hawaii who is curator of a Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. Yano said she knows this because she referred to the character as a cat in the texts she was preparing for the exhibit, which opens in October, and was “very firmly” corrected by Sanrio. — Read it at Fox News

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