Pet Scoop: Prison Has Four New Kitten Residents, Dolphins Use Tails to Swim Fast

Jan. 17, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A family of kittens are being cared for at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in New York.
A family of kittens are being cared for at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in New York.

Kittens Move Into N.Y. Prison

The four newest residents of the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in upstate New York aren’t your typical tough guys. These inmates are melting hearts with their fuzzy tan coats and sweet meows. The stray kittens were found in the prison, hungry and covered in fleas. Luckily, the facility’s head electrician, Bruce Porter, has a “soft heart for any type of animal.” He arrives an hour early for work each day to take care of them. Employees of the prison have chipped in to buy their food, and a prisoner built them a “kitty condo” for the prison’s building maintenance area. When Porter is off on the weekend, an inmate nicknamed the “cat whisperer” helps out. The kittens have each been given names associated with the prison: Doc (an abbreviation for the Department of Correctional Services), Comstock (for prison’s location), Annie (for Fort Ann) and Meadow (for Great Meadow). The prison’s deputy superintendent says they’ll try to find permanent homes for each of the kittens among the prison’s staff. — Read it at New York’s Post Star

Dolphins’ Powerful Tails Help Them Swim Fast

For decades, scientists have debated how it is that dolphins can move so quickly through the water without causing a turbulent flow above them. New experiments show that the answer is by using their powerful tails, or flukes. Researchers led by marine biologist Frank Fish of West Chester University in Pennsylvania created a bubble curtain that two captive bottlenose dolphins could swim through, allowing scientists to measure the forces they generated. "The flukes are essentially wings," said Fish. "[They] generate a lift force that is directed forward, on both the upstroke and downstroke." That pushes the dolphins through the water. Their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. — Read it at National Geographic

Oldest Hippo in North America Dies

Blackie the Nile hippopotamus was brought from Africa to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 1955, when he was about 1 year old. There, he became the father to three males. He was euthanized on Monday at age 59 because of an illness related to old age. Blackie may be the oldest male Nile hippo ever recorded — most of the hippos live to be only 30 to 40 years old in the wild. "He lived out his last several years contentedly eating copious amounts of produce and floating lazily in a pool he didn't have to share,” said zoo officials in a statement. — Read it at Live Science

Gray wolf

Dogs Not as Closely Related to Wolves as Thought

A new DNA analysis finds that the common ancestor between gray wolves and domestic dogs became extinct thousands of years ago. They study by researchers at UCLA found that genetic overlap between dogs and wolves is likely due to interbreeding after dogs were domesticated. DNA showed that dogs have descended from an unknown wolf-like ancestor. The study was published in the journal PLOS Genetics. — Read it at Discovery News

Pictures of Kids’ Bond With Animals Take Internet by Storm

There’s a good chance you saw this show up in your Facebook news feed yesterday — more than once. The magical photos that Russian mom Elena Shumilova has taken of her sons, Yaroslav, 5, and Vanya, 2, with the rabbits, ducklings, cats and dogs on their farm have quickly gone viral this week. Her tranquil photos capture the sweet connection between her boys and the animals. “Children and animals — they're my life,” Shumilova said. “I largely trust my intuition and inspiration when I compose photos of my children with animals.” — See photos at the U.K.’s Daily Mail


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