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Nov. 18, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada say a key population of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea region in Alaska saw their numbers fall by nearly half in the last decade. The population was about 1,600 in 2004 but shrank to just 900 in 2010, with a dramatic increase in the number of cubs dying of starvation. Scientists say the shrinking sea ice in the area due to global warming is to blame. The study’s lead author, Jeff Bromaghin, a USGS statistician, said that of the 80 cubs the team tracked from 2004 to 2007, only two survived. Normally, they’d expect about half of the cubs to live. "These estimates suggest to me that the habitat is getting less stable for polar bears," Bromaghin said. The study was published in the journal Ecological Applications. — Read it from the AP
Last month, when 85-year-old J.R. Nicholson had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance after complaining of dizziness, his loyal companion decided he wanted to come, too. So, Buddy, a 4-year-old Beagle mix who Nicholson had recently adopted, clung to a side step on the outside of the ambulance as it made its way along winding roads, a bridge and a highway in Texas. Finally, another motorist flagged the ambulance down to tell the people inside that there was a dog hanging on outside. At that point, Buddy had held on for 15 to 20 miles. They quickly pulled him inside for the remainder of the hour-long trip to the hospital. “Buddy was not injured. That’s the only reason it’s such a good story,” said ranch hand Brian Wright. “I don’t think he wanted to leave his buddy, his best friend.” Luckily, Nicholson was able to leave the hospital the same day, and take Buddy home with him. — Read it at ABC News
Traffic came to a screeching halt on a Florida roadway recently when two bald eagles locked in an epic mid-air battle crashed into a muddy ditch. A 16-year-old girl witnessed the whole scene and told her mom, who was driving, that the birds needed help. Luckily, her mom, Michelle van Deventer, is a biologist with Florida Fish and Wildlife and the state’s bald eagle coordinator. She pulled over and came to the aid of the injured eagle, as the winner of the fight flew off. Van Deventer fell into the ditch and lost her shoes in the process, but that didn’t stop her from working with volunteers from the Wildlife Center of Venice and Sarasota County Animal Services to secure the exhausted and stressed eagle. He was transported to the center’s clinic and kept overnight. Once it was determined that he didn’t have serious injuries, the eagle was released the next morning. — Read it from Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Facebook Page
After a yearlong battle, Army Specialist Brent Grommet was happily reunited with his military working dog, Matty, at his home in the Midwest over the weekend. Grommet says he returned to Fort Campbell from a deployment in July 2013 to be treated for brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as PTSD. Meanwhile, Matty was transferred to Fort Bragg Vet Services for a torn ACL. Although Grommet had been approved to adopt the German Shepherd, once he’d recovered, he found out that Matty had been adopted by a civilian with ties to the military’s Tactical Explosives Detection Dog program. After the story made headlines, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) and the American Humane Association made a deal with the Army to return Matty to Grommet. The other adoptive family has remained anonymous. "I'm beyond happy. It's like a dream," Grommet said. And it sounds like Matty feels the same way. "Matty burst across the room, tackled Brent, and almost knocked him to the ground," the soldier’s father, Don Grommet, said of the reunion. "Brent was worried whether Matty would still recognize him. There was no question." — Read it at North Carolina’s ABC 11
A pair of red panda cubs each survived a rough start at life thanks to intense care at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Keepers weren’t sure little Henry would even live through his first day of life because he was so sick. The genetically valuable cub was on oxygen for a month and later had pneumonia but overcame the odds and had increased his weight tenfold by the time he was 3 months old. Another cub born at the zoo, Tink, had to be removed from her mother when the staff determined she wasn’t producing enough milk to help the cub grow. Now she’s gaining weight, and both cubs are thriving. — Read it at Zooborns
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