Pet Scoop: “Smokey Junior” Rescued From Wildfire, Sanitary Workers Save 4 Kittens

April 11, 2016: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A Lake County firefighter holds Smokey Junior after the cub was found in a wildfire.
A Lake County firefighter holds Smokey Junior after the cub was found in a wildfire.

Firefighters Save Baby Bear

An adorable 15 to 20 pound baby bear cub was found wandering alone in the midst of a 250-acre wildfire in central Florida on Thursday night. When Lake County firefighters couldn’t find the cub’s mom, they came to its rescue. They named the cub Smokey Junior, after the iconic Smokey the Bear, who has taught kids to prevent forest fires for more than 70 years. They call the bear SJ for short. The orphaned cub suffered slight burns on its paws and face, and its health is being evaluated by Florida Fish and Wildlife officials. They’re hoping they’ll be able to release the little bear back into the wild when it’s recovered. — Watch it at ABC News

Three-Week-Old Tiger Cubs Get a Health Check

Three more adorable cubs are in the news, too. A trio of rare Amur tiger cubs was born to 11-year-old Irisa at Ohio’s Columbus Zoo on March 17. Their dad is 8-year-old Jupiter. Veterinarians at the zoo got their first good look at the cubs on Saturday, when they got their first well-check. Before pulling the cubs from their den, the staff rubbed some of their bedding on their hands to mask their scent from their mom. During the exam, they were able to determine that there are two girl cubs and one boy. They then returned the cubs to the safety of their den, where they’ll continue to bond with Irisa. There are believed to be just 400 Amur tigers living in the wild. — Watch it at YouTube

Study: Swedish Frog Grows Faster in Warmer Weather

Researchers from Sweden’s Uppsala University have found that pool frogs from Sweden speed up their growth rate when the weather is warmest during their breeding season. They collected frog spawn from Baltic Sea regions in Poland, Latvia and Sweden, and found that although they all grew at the same rates when they were kept at 19 degrees C., the Swedish tadpoles grew faster when kept at 26 degrees C. “Since Sweden has briefer periods of high temperatures than Poland and Latvia do, this increased growth capacity under warm conditions allows this frog to take full advantage of the short periods of high temperatures,” said study co-author Germán Orizaola. The study was published in the journal Evolutionary Applications. — Read it at Discovery News

Sanitation workers in Florida found a litter of four kittens in a trash bag.
Sanitation workers in Florida found a litter of four kittens in a trash bag.

Workers Rescue Litter of Kittens

Four kittens who were cruelly placed in a trash bag were rescued by three heroic sanitation workers in Palm Beach County, Florida, last Monday morning. They brought the three boys and one girl, who are about 4 to 5 weeks old, to Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue. They were hungry and suffering from parasites, but both the animal care workers and the sanitation workers said the kittens were friendly and social. They’re being nursed back to health at a foster home and will be available for adoption in about a month. — Watch it at Florida’s WPTV

Dog Survives 300-Foot Fall

Toby is limping but lucky to be alive after he jumped off a cliff and fell about 300 feet while on a trail ride at Utah’s Gooseberry Mesa on Thursday afternoon. The 1-year-old English Sheepdog and Poodle mix fell about 150 feet vertically, and then tumbled about another 150 feet down. The McInnes family called 911 for help, and although the Washington County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t usually help with animal rescues, they sent a crew of five to the scene. “It was just the right thing to do,” said deputy Darrell Cashin. Responder Mike Thomas was the first to reach Toby, and carried the 75-pound dog up a very steep incline to be reunited with his family. Seeing their reaction made it all worthwhile. “When they were reunited, that was our payment. That was our payoff for that,” Cashin said. Toby suffered several injuries but was happy to see his family. They were able to take him home after an exam with his vet. — Read it at Salt Lake City’s KLS

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