Pet Scoop: Sea Otters May Help Fight Global Warming, TSA Dogs Honor 9/11 Victims

Sept. 11, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A study finds that sea otters do their part to help the environment when they eat urchins.
A new study finds that sea otters may help reduce carbon emissions simply by snacking on urchins.

How Sea Otters May Do Their Part for the Planet

According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment, when sea otters prey on urchins — which devour kelp forests that absorb greenhouse gases — the otters can reduce the carbon emissions in their local area by as much as 11 percent. Study co-author Chris Wilmers, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told National Geographic that sea otters are "unlikely to have a big effect on global warming" worldwide. But 40 years of data on otters and Pacific kelp forests off Alaska and Canada points to the fact that "otters 'undoubtedly have a strong influence' on the cycle of CO2 storage” in their local environments. — Read it at National Geographic News

TSA Names K9s in Honor of Sept. 11 Victims

At Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, a 2-year-old Labrador who goes by Buck is the newest member of the K9 team. He was named for Greg Buck, a firefighter who was killed in the south tower of the World Trade Center. The Transportation Security Administration has about 1,000 bomb-sniffing canines who patrol airports across the country — and each one is named for a victim of 9/11 “to remind people how important it is to protect the U.S. from another attack,” said the TSA’s Niko Melendez. — Read it at Arizona’s ABC 15

Legendary Radio Broadcaster Reunites Lost Pets With Owners

Luther Masingill, 90, who has spent the last 72 years on the air at WDEF in Chattanooga, Tenn., hosts a morning show that helps to find missing animals. Although he started by reuniting lost dogs with their owners, "it's become cats, horses, mules and once a small alligator," said Masingill. Thanks to his efforts, he’s earned a top industry honor — Masingill be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in November. — Read it at the AP via Knox News

Panama's pygmy three-toed sloth is among the 100 most endangered species in the world, according to the new list.
Panama's pygmy three-toed sloth is among the 100 most endangered species in the world today.

New List Reveals the 100 Most Threatened Species

Some 8,000 scientists worked to compile the list of animals, plants and fungi from 48 countries that are most in danger of extinction. The roster was revealed in a report titled “Priceless or Worthless?” at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress in South Korea. Animals on the list include Panama’s pygmy sloth, China’s Hainan gibbon and Southeast Asia’s Javan rhino. "All the species listed are unique and irreplaceable. If they vanish, no amount of money can bring them back," said report co-author Ellen Butcher of the Zoological Society of London. "However, if we take immediate action we can give them a fighting chance for survival." — Read it at CNN

Veterinarians and Physicians Increasingly Collaborate on Medical Research

In the past five years, there's been a significant uptick in joint research projects conducted between experts at veterinary colleges and human medical institutions, with the hope of reaching results that can be applied to both people and animals. — Read it at The New York Times

Trapped Kitten Plucked From a Pillar Wall During Football Game

Despite the cheering coming from New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium during the New York Giants’ season opener against the Dallas Cowboys last week, animal control officers and firefighters could still hear the cries of a kitten stuck inside a pillar wall at the nearby Meadowlands Convention Center parking deck. Once crews punched a hole in the wall to free the kitten, who was stuck six feet down, he was taken to the Secaucus Animal Shelter, where a nursing cat immediately adopted the kitten. — Read it at the Hudson Reporter

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