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Dec. 23, 2016: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Just over a week ago, the Payne family was devastated when their German Shepherd was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident in front of their Tennessee home. Now, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, which was heartbroken by the story, has stepped in to help the grieving family. Their K9 unit worked to find them a puppy, and surprised the Paynes’ three daughters, ages 5, 7 and 9, with her. The girls thought they were at the sheriff’s office for a K9 unit demonstration and meeting their newest recruit last week, but they were thrilled when they were told they could bring the German Shepherd home. The sisters named their new puppy Jolly, and she’s helping to bring them a Merry Christmas despite the loss of their beloved dog Beau. “It's just a simple gesture that made a huge impact on those kids,” said Lt. Chris Harris, commander of the K9 unit. The girls spent the next day playing and cuddling with Jolly. “I don't know if she understands she can walk anymore,” Harris joked. — Watch it at USA Today and read it at the Commercial Appeal
Colo, a Western lowland gorilla, made history when she turned 60 years old on Thursday. The first gorilla to be born in human care, Colo has spent her life at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio. Colo was abandoned by her mother when she was born, and was raised by her keepers. She first broke the world record as the oldest living gorilla in 2012, when she turned 56. She has quite a legacy: she’s mom to three, grandmother to 16, great-grandmother to 12 and great-great-grandmother to three young gorillas. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild. — Read it at Live Science
A new study finds that while feeding on shrubs, wild reindeer herds in Norway raise the level of surface albedo, which is the amount of the sun’s energy the Earth reflects back into space. Their grazing reduces the height and number of shrubs, leading to a higher albedo. That results in a cooling effect on the climate. “Most of the arctic tundra is grazed by either domesticated or wild reindeer, so this is an important finding,” said the study's lead author, Mariska te Beest. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. — Read it at Seeker
Keepers at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia started celebrating the holidays early with the arrival of a critically endangered white-cheeked Gibbon baby on Dec. 10. The infant is the fourth offspring of doting parents Viet and Remus. “The baby is absolutely adorable and is looking strong and healthy, clinging tightly to mum,” said keeper Jodie Ellen. “Viet and Rhemus are incredibly loving and capable parents and it’s heart-warming to see the entire family caring for the little one.” The baby’s older sisters will play key roles in helping to bring up the youngest member of their family. — Read it at Zooborns
An elderly dog has a happy new home just in time for the holidays. Puppy may be 15 years old, but she doesn’t seem to know it. The “sweet girl” was surrendered by her family because they lost their home. Amazingly, just hours after the Sacramento SPCA posted about her on Facebook on Wednesday, she got to go to a new home. Thankful followers shared their excitement for Puppy on Facebook, and her new owner weighed in, too. “She is a very lively 15 year old,” wrote Vikki Orman. “A senior for a senior!” — See photo from Sacramento SPCA’s Facebook
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