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Dec. 18, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
A Phoenix woman called 911 for help Monday night when she returned home from a trip and could hear a faint meowing coming from inside the walls of her home. The Phoenix Fire Department cut a hole in the wall and found a 6-week-old kitten. But the noise didn’t stop. They then found a second kitten in the attic. A spokesman for the fire department said they believe the mother cat must have given birth in the attic and might have left the space and not been able to get back in. “I think they were just exhausted,” said firefighter Holly Holland. “They were huffing and puffing and just glad to be next to something warm … luckily we found them.” In the spirit of the Christmas season, the pair were nicknamed Kris and Kringle. And they already have a home for the holidays. — Watch it at North Carolina’s Fox 8
Researchers have found that when older members of an elephant family are killed, younger females assume the roles held by their mothers and maintain the networks that keep extended families together. That’s what they discovered after evaluating the social dynamics of elephants in Kenya over a 16-year period. The links the elephant daughters forged with each other mirrored those once held by their mothers. With tens of thousands of elephants being poached for their ivory tusks each year, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the findings take on a special significance. "The fact that elephants are socially resilient is an important and exciting finding, showing their innate resilience to this unfortunate human pressure," said lead author Shifra Goldenberg of Colorado State University, in a statement. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at Live Science
Researchers tracking a famed mountain lion living in the Santa Monica Mountains, known as P-23, got a cute surprise on a video from the National Park Service: a previously undetected 6-month-old kitten. In the video, the young mountain lion peers into the remote camera and makes squeaky meows. The researchers believe P-23 is caring for her kitten, and her survival is encouraging after two other kittens she gave birth to over the summer didn’t make it more than a few months. The newly found kitten hasn’t yet been fitted with a tracking device. — Read it at Los Angeles’ KTLA
Marine veteran Lance Cpl. David Pond developed a close bond with his bomb-sniffing dog, Pablo, over seven tough months in Iraq in 2011. "He was my rock, my foundation," said Pond of the Belgian Malinois. But later that year, Pond’s service ended and Pablo was sent on to stateside assignments. Back home in the U.S., Pond, 27, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury. He embarked on a long journey to adopt Pablo, writing letters and getting thousands of signatures on a petition. This week, he finally got his dog back. Pablo was released from service and reunited with Pond at a Marine base in Georgia. “It brings a big portion of closure to my life. He's mine," Pond said. “I love him with all my heart.” — Read it at NBC News
The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco delighted its river otters this week with 1,000 pounds of snow. Shasta, Baxter and Ryer raced around — and rolled around — in the white stuff in their habitat, and their antics were caught on video. Their snow days, part of the aquarium’s holiday festivities, will continue until Dec. 28. — Watch it at San Francisco’s ABC 7 News
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