Pet Scoop: Tasmanian Devils Get Their Own Island, Film Crew Saves Stray Kitten

Nov. 19, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Tasmanian devil
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Authorities are hoping to save an "insurance population" of Tasmanian devils.

Australian Officials Ship Devils to Nature Sanctuary

Ever since a deadly and extremely contagious facial tumor in Tasmanian devils was discovered in 1996, the marsupials’ population has dropped by 91 percent. To help save the species, officials on the Australian island now have selected a group of 14 healthy devils from breeding programs around Australia to get a fresh start on Maria Island, a nature sanctuary off Tasmania’s east coast. Apart from any interaction with the disease, the “safe haven” on the island will “strengthen the insurance population of disease-free Tasmanian devils," said Tasmania's Environment Minister Brian Wightman. If the translocation is a success, authorities plan to increase the island population over the next two years. — Read it at Discovery News

Pets Displaced by Sandy Fly Cross Country

Thanks to good samaritans, 60 dogs and cats who were facing euthanasia in New York and New Jersey are now alive and well in San Diego, Calif. Several groups worked together to get the pets, who were displaced by the superstorm, on a plane and across the country safely, including animal handlers from SeaWorld, pilots and crew from Southwest Airlines who donated their time and fuel paid for by BP, said a spokeswoman for the Helen Woodward Animal Center. The animals will be put up for adoption there after they’re vaccinated, spayed and neutered. — Read it at AP via Boston.com

Plus: Birds sometimes need a helping hand — or wing  too. A pair of brown pelicans who were blown off course and wound up in Rhode Island after Hurricane Sandy have been flown to a rehabilitation sanctuary in Florida on a private plane. "They do get pushed by these northward storms, so that's what happened to these guys," said Jennifer Brooks, director at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island. "They should have been going south." The $2,000 flight was paid for with donations. — Read it at Reuters via Yahoo

Scientists Track Crabs With GPS

A study of 55 robber crabs on Christmas Island in Indonesia found that the world’s largest crabs travel more than two miles to get to water, food and mates. Using GPS devices tagged to the massive arthropods, who can live for up to 60 years, researchers found that they usually stay close to home. But when moved up to 0.6 miles away, most were able to find their way back. It was in the first demonstration of long-distance homing behavior in land crabs, according to the study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

Dolan greets the family of his namesake, who was a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dolan greets the family of his namesake, who was a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

TSA Puppy Program Hits Milestone

In addition to being adorable, Dolan is special because he's the 500th pup to graduate from the Transportation Security Administration’s bomb-sniffing K9 program. Every dog who’s trained in the program is named for a 9/11 victim, and Dolan is no exception. The 2-year-old gets his moniker from Navy Capt. Bob Dolan, who died in the attack on the Pentagon. The officer’s family members met Dolan when he was a puppy, and traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to see him graduate. — Watch it at Today

Film Crew Saves Starving Kitten

It must’ve been Cheeto the kitten’s big break. While working on the independent film Before the Fall in Virginia, Chase Conner, a 28-year-old actor, and the crew he was working with spotted the malnourished orange cat wandering around in the mountains.  “We pet him and he could barely stand up,” said Conner. “He was nothing but fur and bones.” The crew nursed the kitten back to health, and Conner, whose work is constantly taking him away from home, found the perfect home for Cheeto — with his own mom. — Read it at ABC News

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