Pet Scoop: Raju the Elephant Celebrates Freedom With Cake, Polar Bears Face Declines

July 2, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Raju celebrates one year of freedom with a piece of cake, and a swim.
Raju celebrates one year of freedom with a piece of cake, and a swim.

Raju Marks 1 Year of Freedom

Americans aren’t the only ones celebrating their independence this week. July 4 also marks one year since the rescue of Raju, a 50-year-old elephant who’d lived his whole life in chains while helping his owners beg. A year ago, he was freed by a team from the non-profit Wildlife SOS. A video of the rescue went viral after some volunteers said the elephant cried as he was freed from his chains. "The biggest challenge Raju has faced in the initial part of last year at least, I would say, is to regain back his confidence, his faith in human beings in general," says Dr. Vibha, in a video about the elephant’s journey. "He's had a very cruel, very abused history and it's not really easy for an animal to forget that." Raju celebrated with a delicious piece of cake in his pool, which is one of his new favorite places. — Read it at People Pets

Rescued Rhino Gives Birth to Second Calf

There’s also good news for Ganga, a rhino who was rescued and rehabilitated in India. She was released in the wild in Manas National Park in 2010 and surprised a team from the International Fund for Animal Welfare by giving birth to a second healthy calf, who was first spotted on June 19. That means Ganga has now given birth twice in just over two years. That delighted conservationists because most wild rhinos average four years between births. Ganga was rescued in 2004 when she was only 4 months old herself and had been swept away by annual floods in Kaziranga National Park. She was hand-raised by the IFAW along with two other female rhinos. — Read it from IFAW

Retired Military Dogs Sniff Out Meth

Five retired military dogs are taking on a new mission. They’re putting their well-trained noses to work to help police departments in Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, Nebraska and Georgia with their battles against methamphetamine and other drugs. "Even if they only work for two more years, if they go out there and they take a pound of heroin off the street or 10 kilos of cocaine off the street in Houston that would have made it to Chicago or New York, and maybe save somebody from a drug habit, or they find one bomb and save 10 lives, it's worth the whole program,” said Mike Thomas, a Harris County, Texas, sheriff's officer and board member for the Houston-based organization K9s4Cops. — Read it from the AP via ABC News

polar bear

Polar Bears Face Steep Declines

A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey finds that polar bears will likely see a sharp drop in their population in most parts of the Arctic Ocean if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates. Researchers said those emissions are causing the accelerated melting of sea ice, which the bears depend on. They use floating sea ice as platforms to hunt for their prey. "Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations," said Todd Atwood, USGS research biologist and lead author of the study, in a statement. — Read it from Reuters via Yahoo

Kitten Rescued From Drain Gets New Home

A tiny kitten survived a run through traffic on Staten Island in New York Wednesday, but then fell down a water drain. A bystander called police, and two officers spent three hours retrieving her from the sewer. A Good Samaritan who called for help then took the kitten to the veterinarian for an exam. One of the people who first spotted the kitten offered to adopt her. And if he can’t keep her for some reason, a receptionist at the vet’s office is also willing to give the little gray kitten a home, too. — See photo at New York’s


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