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Feb. 13, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
A day before making his Olympic debut, 22-year-old freeskier Gus Kenworthy took a break to play with some stray puppies he found in host city Sochi, Russia. “Oh my glob, look who I just found! :) #sochistrays” he Tweeted from his verified account on Wednesday. He posted pictures of himself with the puppies on Twitter and Facebook, and later said, “Also, for the people wondering, I've lined up kennels 4 the pups & made vaccination appointments. Doing all I can to bring them home w/ me!” The treatment of Sochi’s strays has been a controversial part of the Games, with animal lovers rushing to save them before they could be euthanized by agencies contracted by local officials. Kenworthy was born in Great Britain but raised in Colorado. He won silver today in the slopestyle event in Sochi for Team USA, but he’s already captured gold in the hearts of many of his animal-loving fans. — Read it at New York’s Newsday
New research from the University of Surrey in the U.K. identifies the effect of Chiari malformation, where a dog’s brain is too big for its skull. The scientists say this debilitating condition has become prevalent as a result of selective breeding, and that it affects many toy breeds that have been bred to look more “doll-like,” including Griffon Bruxellois, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas and their cross breeds. In some dogs, there aren’t any symptoms of Chiari malformation, but in others, it can cause headaches, problems with walking or even paralysis. “We want to engage breeders and give them practical advice about the condition, but it is also important that the public recognizes that breeding dogs in a certain way to influence how they look might not be in the animal's best interest,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Clare Rusbridge from the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Science Daily
The sharp decline in the population of elephants across central Africa is mostly due to the animals being killed for their ivory. The latest numbers were released at a wildlife tracking symposium in London this week, and the research updates a study published in the journal PLOS ONE last year that called the situation “catastrophic.” The new data, from 2012 and 2013, shows that the elephants’ plight has gotten even worse. "At least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were lost between 2002-2013 to the tune of at least 60 a day, or one every 20 minutes, day and night," said study researcher Fiona Maisels, a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society.— Read it at Live Science
Horse Falls Through Icy Pond
Noblesville, Ind., firefighters were able to pull a horse from a pond that she’d fallen into and get her safely back to her barn on Sunday. The horse, Nyah, was submerged in the water up to her neck when the rescue crews arrived. One of the horse’s owners called 911 for help, saying her husband was in the water trying to help the animal. Nyah was examined by a veterinarian and she’s recovering well. Her owners say she’s been up walking around and eating. — Read it at Indiana’s WISH-TV
The Obamas hosted a formal state dinner in honor of French President Francois Hollande at the White House on Tuesday night. But before the 350 guests arrived for the event, two well-dressed and well-mannered party crashers grabbed seats at a fancy dinner table. First lady Michelle Obama Tweeted a picture of Portuguese Water Dogs Bo and Sunny politely sitting at one of the tables, with the playful caption, "Bone appétit!" Surely they would have enjoyed the dry-aged rib eye beef that the White House chefs were preparing! — Read it and see photo at People Pets
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