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Jan. 22, 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 critically endangered Amur leopard cub was born on Dec. 3 at the Denver Zoo, the zoo announced recently. The rare cats are native to the Amur region of eastern Russia, so this cub has been named Sochi for the Russian city that’s set to host the 2014 Olympic Games in two weeks. Sochi spent his first weeks bonding with his mom, Dazma, and is now exploring his outside enclosure. He’s the second cub for Dazma and her mate, Hari-Kari. Amur leopards are the world’s most endangered cat. They’re nearly extinct in the wild, with only about 50 estimated to be remaining, at the most. — Read it from the Denver Zoo
New U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Japanese music icon Yoko Ono are among those voicing criticism for country’s annual practice of trapping and killing bottlenose dolphins. "Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing," Kennedy Tweeted last week. “The way you are insisting on a big celebration of killing so many dolphins and kidnapping some of them to sell to the zoos and restaurants at this very politically sensitive time, will make the children of the world hate the Japanese," Ono told her home country on her web site. Of the 250 dolphins who were trapped, reports say about 52 were selected for sale to marine parks and aquariums, and another 40 were killed for butchers. Some were to be let go, but it was unclear how many. Officials in Japan defended the hunt as tradition. — Read it at the Los Angeles Times
A new study from biologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that three-toed sloths have a purpose for the perilous trips they make down from the treetops to poop once every three weeks. The researchers wanted to know why the animals would use so much energy and put themselves in danger to travel to the ground. They found that answer lies in a symbiotic relationship with moths. Pyralid moths deposit their eggs in the animals’ excrement, where they live and feed as larvae. The moths then infest the sloths’ fur. They found that the moths add nitrogen to the sloths’ fur, allowing for more algae growth. And the algae is a nutritious food source for the sloths. So, the sloths travel down to the forest floor to have more interaction with moths. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. — Read it at National Geographic
Stockings, an orange tabby, was born with backwards hind legs, leaving him unable to stand or walk. He was brought to the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago when he was just a few weeks old. "He had so much pent up energy! He wanted to run around like other kittens and play," said the shelter’s Jenny Schlueter. The shelter contacted an orthopedic veterinarian, who performed three procedures to turn the kitten’s legs forward. Now, Stockings can run and play like a kitten should. “Our goal was to make his feet functional so he could live a happy, pain-free life," Dr. Steve Neihaus said. And Stockings’ story has a happy ending: he found a forever home with a vet tech who fell in love with him when she fostered him after his surgery. — Read it at Chicago’s ABC 7 and watch Stockings play via Vimeo
Washington, D.C., saw its biggest snowfall in three years on Tuesday — and the kids who were out of school for two days weren’t the only ones who were happy about it. The “cold-loving” residents of the National Zoo, including the pandas, sea lions and river otters, also enjoyed the unusual chance to romp around in the fresh snow. — See photos at Facebook
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