Pet Scoop: Rare Cubs Get Clean Bill of Health, Rescuers Save Tangled Swan in China

Feb. 22, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

One of the National Zoo's twin Andean bear cubs gets its first exam.
National Zoo
One of the National Zoo's twin Andean bear cubs gets its first exam.
Andean Bears Get First Checkup

Animal care staff at the National Zoo got the chance to examine their 8-week-old Andean bear cubs for the first time this week. Born to mom Billie Jean on Dec. 14, the spectacled bears have spent the last two months nestled in their den, bonding with their mom. Although it’s still hard to tell their gender at this stage, it appears that one cub is a male and the other is a female, officials said. They weighed in at 10.1 and 9.2 pounds. After giving them a full exam, veterinarians gave the duo a clean bill of health. The happy family will emerge from their den to make their public debut in the spring. — Read it at the National Zoo

Plus: An NBC News report raises questions about the efforts to save another, more iconic bear: the panda. Experts believe more money is being spent to save the giant panda than any other species in the world. While some argue that the cuddly bear is a symbol of the conservation movement and worth saving, some scientists question whether too much is being spent on one species. — Read it at NBC News

Cold Temps Trigger Monarch Migration

A new study finds that cold snaps are the impetus for monarch butterflies to choose the direction of their migration in the spring and fall. The finding raises concerns about how climate change could affect the half-billion migratory butterflies who travel thousands of miles to spend the winter in Mexico before heading back to the north. "We think it’s a pretty compelling story in terms of the importance of this cold temperature for this change in migratory patterns," said Steven Reppert, a butterfly migration specialist with the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He’s one of the co-authors of the study, which will be published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at Live Science

“Giant” Goldfish in Lake Tahoe Worry Biologists

Goldfish as big as 14.2 inches long and weighing 3.4 pounds have been found in the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. Sudeep Chandra, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he thinks people who have goldfish as pets are disposing of them in the lake. While it may have seemed harmless, the invasion of the species can be detrimental to the ecology of the lake. Waste from the goldfish creates algae that can reduce the clarity in the lake, Chandra said.— Read it at USA Today

Rescuers in China untangled thread dangling from a swan's beak.
Rescuers in China untangled thread dangling from a swan's beak.

Thread No Longer a Threat to Swan

It was a week ago that park staff in northwest China first noticed a swan with some kind of thread dangling from its beak as it swam in an icy river. They called in rescuers who made several attempts to catch the bird, but it kept getting away. Eventually they were able to catch the swan, remove the thread, and release it back into the water. — Watch it at Today

Oscar Noms and Their Furry Fans

From Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper’s beloved dog Charlotte to Best Actress contender Jessica Chastain’s pooch Chaplin, who joined her on the set of Zero Dark Thirty, many of the stars who are up for Academy Awards on Sunday have furry best friends who’ll be back home rooting for them. Think they’ll be watching the show? — See photos at People Pets

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