Pet Scoop: Shark Photobombs Family Pic, World’s Smallest Monkeys Born in Belfast

Dec. 30, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Mom Surprised By Big Fish in Photo

When June Emerson snapped a pic of her 12-year-old twin boys surfing at Manhattan Beach, she got more than she bargained for. In the picture that’s gone viral, a large shark can be seen swimming close to her kids. "It was quite a shock to see,” June Emerson told KTLA about her photo that’s received thousands of comments on Facebook. “Many local surfers and lifeguards have seen this and believe it to be a shark,” Emerson said. “Of course, I told my kids it was dolphin, as we live at the beach and are in the waters here almost daily.” — Read it at Yahoo News

Stranded Lab Rescued with Hot Dogs

When Jake Langdon, a homeowner in a Santa Cruz California neighborhood heard a dog crying for help, he found a black lab stranded on a small piece of land at the edge of a river. He called Animal Services, who arrived and tried to figure out a plan of action. Langdon decided to take matters into his own hands. He strapped on a pair of waders and walked out to the dog, befriending him with pieces of hot dog before putting a leash on him and encouraging him to wade in the water to the other side. "She just jumped," Langdon said. "She was ready to get out of there."The dog was taken to the animal shelter to be checked and, despite having spent hours exposed, the dog was cleared of hypothermia or any other injuries by a veterinarian. Hours later, she was reunited with her family. — Reat it at the Santa Cruz Sentinal

Elephant trunk

Study: Elephants Think With Their Trunks

Their ears may be huge, but elephants surprisingly rely more on their sense of smell than other senses to find food and solve other puzzles, say researchers from the University of Cambridge. "This is one of the first times, to our knowledge, that elephants were shown to use olfaction [smell] in a basic intelligence test," said Joshua Plotnik, an animal behavior scientist who led the study. The results offer insights into how elephants think and could be used to figure out ways they might be dissuaded from raiding farmers' food. The authors also suggest that scientists may underestimate the smarts of pachyderms (and other animals) by relying too much on intelligence tests tied to sights or sounds, instead of smells."[This study] shows just how primate-centric some of our cognitive tests really are," adds Yale evolutionary psychologist Laurie Santos. "If we really want to understand elephant cognition, we need to start thinking outside the visual-auditory box." — Read it at National Geographic

Belfast Zoo Welcomes Pygmy Marmoset Twins

Two of the world’s smallest primates were born at Belfast Zoo in November. Pygmy Marmosets, native to South America’s upper Amazon basin, weigh only four to five ounces when fully grown. They feed primarily on tree gum, but also insects, fruits and nectar. Zookeepers say the two babies are carried by their parents most of the time, but are becoming more adventurous by the day. — Read it at Zooborns

This Cat and Dog Duo: Your Daily Dose of Cuteness

While Archer and Babou weren’t crazy about each other when they first met —"The cat showed up at our house in the cold last winter and the dog was terrified of him,” says the animals’ owner — the duo now can’t get enough of each other. A clip on YouTube that’s gone viral shows just how far the twosome has come, when their owner caught them spooning at naptime. — Watch it at Huffington Post

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