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August 21, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Army Specialist Vance McFarland missed his bomb-sniffing K9 partner Ikar so much that when he got two new dogs at home, he named one of them Raki — which is Ikar spelled backward. McFarland had served a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan with Ikar, but they were separated when he returned home to Boise, Idaho, in 2012. His dog returned to serve another tour, and McFarland has been trying to find Ikar ever since. His search came to an end Thursday night, when the 5-year-old German Shepherd ran into his arms at the Boise airport. Ikar was among the 12 dogs who were abandoned at Mt. Hope Kennels in Virginia by a private contractor 17 months ago. They’re now finding their forever homes thanks to Mission K9 Rescue and the U.S. War Dog Association, and we’ve been following their happy endings. “To have that piece of his life back — a piece of his heart — is more than I could ever be thankful for,” said McFarland’s wife, Jamey. Ikar is now off to live with Raki and the McFarlands’ other Australian Shepherd and will be “spoiled as hell,” Vance McFarland said. — Watch it at Idaho’s KIVI
In a newly published report, scientists assert that the Sumatran rhino is extinct in Malaysia, where there hasn’t been one spotted since 2007. The species once ranged across Southeast Asia, but its numbers are down to only 100 in the wild in Indonesia and nine who are living in captivity. "It is vital for the survival of the species that all remaining Sumatran rhinos are viewed as a metapopulation, meaning that all are managed in a single program across national and international borders in order to maximize overall birth rate," said University of Copenhagen PhD student Rasmus Gren Havmøller, the paper’s lead author. The paper was published in the journal Oryx. — Read it at Discovery News
NOAA has begun an official investigation into the deaths of 30 whales from several different species in the western Gulf of Alaska since May. "While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live," said Teri Rowles of NOAA Fisheries. It may take months or even years for the scientists to find an explanation for these deaths. So far, they’ve only been able to collect tissue samples from one of the 30 carcasses. Many have been impossible to retrieve or badly decomposed. — Read it at the Washington Post
A family of gray wolves has been documented in California for the first time in nearly 100 years, wildlife officials said Thursday. The pack, which was confirmed in a series of photos from trail cameras, includes two adults with black fur and four pups. They’ve been dubbed the Shasta Pack. Officials have anticipated that gray wolves would find their way to northern California since they’d begun to establish themselves in Oregon, but they didn’t expect to find an established pack in the state so soon. “We were really excited if not amazed” at how quickly the wolves have reappeared in California, said Eric Loft of the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. — Read it at the Los Angeles Times
In May, we told you about Snorri, the cat who’s made a name for himself by stealing shoes, toys and some clothing items from his Oregon neighborhood. Recently, Snorri’s owner fitted the sneaky cat with a collar camera to capture the cat on the prowl. It revealed some interesting things about his techniques. For example, he stays within a one-block radius; he’ll go the long way home if he’s carrying an item that’s too heavy for him to jump a fence with; and he’ll sometimes lay down to take a break when he’s carrying something large. Snorri’s owner, Gabbie Hendel, continues to return the items he brings home, both by posting pictures of them on an Instagram account and by going door to door. — Watch it at The Oregonian
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