Pet Scoop: Paralyzed Dogs Walk Again, Chimps Face Midlife Crises

Nov. 20, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Jasper, a 10-year-old dog, regained the use of his hind legs after a nose cell transplant.
Jasper, a 10-year-old dog, regained the use of his hind legs after a nose cell transplant.

Researchers Reverse Dog Paralysis

There’s promising news for dogs with spinal cord injuries. In a clinical trial at the U.K.’s Cambridge University, researchers were able to reverse paralysis in several dogs by removing cells from the lining of their noses, growing them in a laboratory for several weeks, then transplanting them into the damaged part of the spinal cord.The transplanted cells regenerated nerve fibers across the damaged region, enabling the dogs to regain the use of their hind legs and coordinate movement with their front legs, according to the study, which was published in the journal Brain. May Hay, whose 10-year-old Dachshund Jasper was part of the trial, had to wheel her pet around because his “back legs were useless. Now he whizzes around the house and garden and is able to keep up with the other dogs. It's wonderful." — Watch it at BBC News

‘Hobbit’ Filmmakers Accused of Animal Negligence

While no animals were harmed during the filming of The Hobbit film trilogy, wranglers who were involved in the making of movies in New Zealand blame the production company for the deaths of 27 animals because they were kept at a farm with bluffs, sinkholes and broken fencing. A statement from director Peter Jackson and the movies’ other producers said that they “completely reject the accusations.” They say they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade facilities after the deaths of two horses in early 2011. The company no longer leases the farm and has no animals left on the property. The first film in the trilogy opens next month. — Read it at AP via NBC News

Apes Struggle With Middle Age

You won’t find them driving around in sports cars, but a new study shows that much like humans, chimpanzees and orangutans also suffer from midlife crises. The study team at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland asked the caretakers of more than 500 apes to complete a questionnaire where they asked about the animals’ moods, social interactions and achievements. When they plotted the results on a graph, they saw the same U-shaped curve — bottoming out in middle age — that has shown up in several studies about happiness in people. Study leader Alexander Weiss said, “your brain could be tricking you into improving your circumstances and situation, signaling you to get up and really start pushing while you're absolutely at your prime." The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. — Read it at National Geographic News

A pair of Magellanic penguins may be among the most faithful in the animal kingdom.
A pair of Magellanic penguins may be among the most faithful in the animal kingdom.

Penguin Couple Faithful for 16 Years

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it appears to be true for a pair of Magellanic penguins in Argentina that researchers say is among the most faithful couple in the animal kingdom. The monogamous pair have had long periods apart — even traveling 200,000 miles on solo trips — but for the last 16 years, they’ve returned to the same nest to produce and care for new chicks. “The bond they have is incredible really,” Dr. Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, a researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina and president of the Global Penguin Society, told the U.K.’s Telegraph. Previously, penguin pairs were believed to stay together for between five and 10 years. — Watch it at the Huffington Post

Louisiana Vet Clones His Dog

With the help of two researchers in South Korea, Dr. Clark Cooper and colleagues at his West Monroe, La., veterinary practice cloned his beloved 13-year-old Bluetick hound, Gator. “He's the same personality, the same bark,” Cooper said of the puppy. “It is strange to me to see a 13-year-old dog and then see him started over as a clone puppy.” But the procedure isn’t cheap. Cooper says the process can cost more than $100,000. — Read it at the New York Daily News

What’s Oprah’s Favorite Thing?

The former talk show host recently unveiled her favorite things in a 2-hour special on her TV network, OWN. But on Saturday, she revealed one more important pick: spending time with her pup. "Flying home with Sadie. One of my favorite things," she Tweeted with a photo of herself snuggled under a cozy blanket on her private plane with the cocker spaniel. — See photo at People Pets


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