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Oct. 30, 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 Pit Bull who was rescued from the Bad Newz Kennels in 2007 as part of the dog fighting investigation that led to the conviction of NFL quarterback Michael Vick is now the ASPCA Dog of the Year. Jonny Justice, who’d had little, if any, positive interactions with people before his rescue, was adopted by his foster family. They quickly noticed that he loved kids. By 2008, Jonny became a therapy dog, and he now spends his time supporting terminally ill children and their families. He also takes part in reading programs, where kids practice reading aloud to him. Jonny was recognized as part of the ASPCA’s 2014 Humane Awards, which were announced Wednesday. The recipients also include Cat of the Year Studley, who was found on the side of the road as a kitten and became a therapy cat in a Washington state hospital, and Kid of the Year Annika Glover, an 11-year-old who battled a brain tumor. Her wish from the Make-a-Wish foundation was to raise money for animals in need, and $7,000 was donated in her honor to the Alabama rescue group Pets Are Worth Saving. — Read it from the ASPCA
Plus: Another special Pit Bull, Susie, who was also saved from abuse and went on to become a therapy dog, was named the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog last month. The awards show hosted by James Denton and Beth Stern airs on the Hallmark Channel tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central.
A brown and green leopard frog species managed to go unnoticed amid the bustle of New York City until recently. Scientists from Rutgers University discovered the frog when they heard a call that sounded like a “long snore,” and thought, “What the heck is that?” said researcher Jeremy Feinberg. He and his team tracked down the camouflaged frog, and DNA tests revealed that it was an undocumented species. Although the city-dwelling frog was just discovered, researchers say it may be threatened with habitat loss. The species is described in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Discovery News
A new study finds that while they’re still inside their eggs, superb fairy wrens can discern between the sounds of their own species and those of other kinds of birds. It’s the first time a species other than a human has been shown to distinguish between individuals in utero. The birds even learn a “password” from their mothers before they hatch, which they use when they hatch to ask for food. Australian researchers used heart rate monitors on fairy wren eggs and exposed them to the sounds of a single fairy wren and to white noise. The embryos lowered their heart rates when they heard the wren call, like they were trying to concentrate on the noise. They didn’t lower their heart rates when they heard the white noise. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. — Read it at National Geographic
Two rare calves born at the San Francisco Zoo during the San Francisco Giants’ pennant race and the World Series have been named for key players on the team. A female greater kudu calf was born Oct. 11 and named Madison for pitcher Madison Bumgarner. And a critically endangered female eastern mountain bongo calf born Oct. 22 was named Pence after the team’s right-fielder Hunter Pence. There are only 100 bongos left in the wild in Kenya. Last night, the Giants won the World Series against the Kansas City Royals in game 7, and the senior staff at the Kansas City Zoo has agreed to stand in front of their sea lion enclosure wearing the Giants black and orange colors with signs that say “We’re not lion, the Giants beat us fair and square.”
“Miracle Dogs,” a new book from photographer Liz Stavrinides, celebrates rescue dogs and their owners. The book features dog trainers and rescue groups, as well as several celebrities who’ve adopted dogs and their inspiring stories. The book includes “Today” host Hoda Kotb, comedian Chevy Chase and former “Sopranos” actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler with their adorable pooches. — See photos at People Pets
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