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May 20, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
When Michigan high school seniors Delaney Johnson and Nick Ackerman went to their proms this month, they brought along two special companions — their service dogs, Griffin and Troy. Griffin, a Dutch shepherd, has helped Johnson cope with a debilitating form of narcolepsy. Ackerman, who was born missing large parts of both arms, gets help with everyday tasks from his German Shepherd, Troy. Johnson and Ackerman met just a few weeks before their proms, and neither had planned to go. But the idea seemed a lot more appealing when they talked about going together and bringing their dogs. Troy played a key role in Ackerman’s “promposal,” and both dogs sported bowties for the big day. "I was going to stay home and eat ice cream and watch movies,'' Johnson said afterward. "I'm just so glad I went … It was an amazing time.'' — Watch it from Michigan’s Lansing State Journal via WZZM 13
Bamboo is the main food source for giant pandas, but new research shows they’re terrible at digesting it. A study of the microbes in their gut showed the bears have few bacteria to help digest fibrous plants like bamboo. Instead, they have a large amount of organisms that are usually found in meat eaters. Pandas evolved from bears that ate both plants and meat, but they started eating bamboo exclusively about 2 million years ago, researchers said. The animals can only digest about 17 percent of the bamboo they eat. “Unlike other plant-eating animals that have successfully evolved anatomically specialized digestive systems to efficiently deconstruct fibrous plant matter, the giant panda still retains a gastrointestinal tract typical of carnivores," said Zhihe Zhang, the study's lead author and director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. The study was published in the journal mBio. — Read it at Live Science
One of the young men charged in a brutal dog fighting and abuse case in Tampa Bay, Florida, has plead guilty. A mixed breed dog made national headlines when she was found shot and on railroad tracks, and rescued by a police officer who named her Cabela. Kenny Bell, 21, and his brother Darnell Devlin admitted getting Cabela for the purpose of dog fighting. Someone shot the dog in the woods, but Bell wasn’t charged with that. Bell was sentenced to 48 months probation, 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution to Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Services. The clinic took Cabela in, gave her lifesaving surgery and nursed her back to health. She’s recovering well despite her severe injuries, and is being fostered. She will be an ambassador for the clinic. Bell was the first of four people to go to trial in the case. — Read it at Tampa Bay’s ABC Action News
Duke was just a puppy when the Rottweiler disappeared from his home in Miami. His owner, Joshua Edwards, believed someone had stolen his pup. That was seven years ago — so Edwards was shocked when he got a call from a local animal hospital saying they had Duke. A Good Samaritan had found the dog wandering on the streets. Even after all those years, Duke remembered his owner and was thrilled to see him. “I was just overwhelmed, I couldn’t hold back. It was amazing,” Edwards said of their emotional reunion. “We’re going to make up for that lost time.” — Watch it at CBS Miami
Nine-year-old Alana Thogerson of Virginia heard about the record number of sea lion pups stranding on the California coastline when her mom found one of the pups in March. Alana decided she wanted to help, and spent 6 hours selling items she found in her room at the end of her driveway. Then, she took her efforts online and created a GoFundMe page. All together, Alana raised more than $1,700 for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center — and her mom decided to bring her to the center in California for her birthday so she could meet the sea lions and present her check in person Tuesday. "It makes me feel really happy that a lot of people wanted to give money to the sea lions," Alana said. — Watch it at ABC 7 Los Angeles
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