Pet Scoop: SeaWorld Trainers Won’t Swim With Orcas, Rare Snow Leopards Make Debut

August 21, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

SeaWorld dropped its appeal of a ruling that keeps its trainers from swimming with killer whales during its shows.
SeaWorld dropped its appeal of a ruling that keeps its trainers from swimming with killer whales during its shows.

SeaWorld Won’t Appeal Court Ruling

The marine animal theme parks will not fight a court decision that upholds federal safety citations that recommended they stop putting trainers in the water with killer whales. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations in 2010 after trainer Dawn Brancheau died during a killer whale show at SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld had challenged the citations, but they were upheld by a federal court in April. The company now says it won’t try to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Brancheau’s death was the focus of “Blackfish,” a 2013 documentary that questioned whether orcas should be kept in captivity and lead to a lot of criticism of the parks. SeaWorld has called the documentary “propaganda.” — Read it at USA Today

Solar Plant Burns Birds Mid-Air

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says birds are dying at a rate of one every two minutes at a new solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which opened in February, is the largest solar plant to use towers that receive beams of focused solar rays to generate electricity. Temperatures near the skyscraping towers can reach 800 degrees. Up to 28,000 birds a year could die after being scorched in the focused beams of sunlight, according to the FWS. Insects are attracted to the bright light, drawing birds and bats. Now predators are coming to the area to feed on the birds, causing federal officials to refer to the plant as a “mega-trap” for wildlife. The FWS is calling for a year of study before a bigger “power tower” plant can be built between Joshua Tree National Park and the border of California and Arizona. The companies behind the plant say they’re looking for solutions to stop wildlife from colliding with the plant. — Read it at the Weather Channel

Study: Urban Orb Spiders Are Bigger

Researchers have found that city dwelling orb-weaving spiders grow larger and have more babies than their country counterparts. The spider is native to the Australian countryside but can also be found in cities like Sydney. The University of Sydney researchers say the spiders like the heat they find in the city. "Hard surfaces [like buildings, roads and concrete] retain heat, leading to the urban island-heat effect," said lead researcher Elizabeth Lowe. "This increase in temperatures is likely what is leading to increased growth of the spiders." The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

Two male snow leopard cubs made their debut at the Bronx Zoo this week.
Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society
Two male snow leopard cubs made their debut at the Bronx Zoo this week.

Snow Leopards Born in New York

Two endangered snow leopard cubs made their feisty debut under their mom’s watchful eye at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York on Tuesday. The boys were born to first-time parents May 6. Snow leopards are among the most endangered big cats in the world, with an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 remaining in the wild. — Watch it at YouTube and read it from the WCS

Rescue Dogs Marry in Backyard Wedding

As a wedding photographer, it didn’t take long for Kathryn Yeaton to realize that her black-and-white male dog and white female dog “looked too perfect as a bride and groom.” Cuteness ensued as Yeaton, who owns Brave Hearts Photography in Connecticut, planned a wedding for her adopted dogs, Teddy and Lucy. For the ceremony, Teddy sported a houndstooth bow tie, and his bride wore a veil and a jeweled collar. The menu included the pooches’ favorite snacks, fruit and cheese. — See photos at Today

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