Pet Scoop: Study Finds Breed Laws Don’t Protect Public, Oregon Zoo’s Elephant Turns 1

Dec. 4, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

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Study Challenges Breed Legislation

New research by animal behavior experts at the U.K.’s University of Lincoln finds that breed specific legislation meant to protect the public from “dangerous” dogs might actually be doing more harm than good. The team surveyed 160 people on their perceptions of certain dogs to see whether their contact with dogs influenced their tendency to believe negative breed stereotypes, applying a theory used by sociologists to determine the origin of racial stereotyping. They found that more than half of the respondents who owned or had regular contact with dogs disagreed with the statement that some breeds are more aggressive than others, while only 15 percent of those without dog experience held the same view. The survey found that people with little dog experience tended to believe stereotypes about bull breeds, and even applied them to other dogs with more muscle tone or short hair, possibly creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The behaviorists said that the type of person attracted to certain breeds and encouraging certain behaviors may be a much better predictor of a dog’s behavior. "This work provides good scientific evidence to explain why the pursuit by governments of breed specific legislation to reduce the risk of harm to citizens is not only doomed to failure, but also giving people a false sense of security, which may actually be making the situation worse,” said researcher Daniel Mills. The findings were published in the journal Human Animal Interaction Bulletin. — Read it at Science Daily

Secrets to Python’s Digestion Revealed

A new study finds that the Burmese python is one of the world’s most evolutionarily advanced creatures. It has the ability to expand its organs and quickly digest an animal as large as the snake itself before it rots. Within a day or two, the python’s heart, small intestine, liver and kidneys can grow to up to double their size. Once the food has been digested, the organs shrink back to their normal size. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. — Read it from AFP via Discovery News

Tumors Found in Great White Shark

While scientists have known for years that sharks can get cancer, the misconception that they can’t persists, promoted by people who sell shark cartilage and claim it’s a cancer cure. But researchers in Australia recently found a large tumor on a great white shark’s mouth, and documented it in a study published in the journal of Fish Diseases. "This was a very unusual sight as we have never before seen a [great] white shark with tumors," said Rachel Robbins, a study co-author. "The main take-home message from the study is that it adds to the growing evidence of tumor formation in sharks, contrary to popular belief that sharks do not suffer from such anomalies.” — Read it at Live Science

The Oregon Zoo takes a look back at Lily the elephant's first year.

“Spitfire” Calf Celebrates Birthday

Lily, a baby Asian elephant with a big personality, marked her 1st birthday at the Oregon Zoo over the weekend. Born at 300 pounds, the calf whose keepers call her a “spitfire” now weighs in at 1,300 pounds. "She's definitely not shy," said Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator. "She competes with the bigger elephants for enrichment toys and treats. She doesn't just wait for her turn — she's right in there with the others being a true member of the herd.” Lily celebrated with a cake on her birthday. You can watch the inquisitive little girl grow in a two-minute video released by the zoo that captures her first year of life. — Read it and watch it from the Oregon Zoo

Dog Arrives on Downing Street

While there’s usually a canine resident of the White House, British political leaders have been better known as cat people. But this week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that he’d added a dog to the mix on Downing Street, where he lives next door to Prime Minister David Cameron and his family. Osborne said he and his wife finally caved to their 10- and 12-year-old children and brought home Lola, a Bichon Frise. The family’s cat, Freya, and the Camerons’ famous tabby, Larry, don’t need to worry, though. Osborne said the puppy is “cat friendly.” — Read it at BBC News

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