Pet Scoop: Walrus Mitik Moves From N.Y. to Texas, Snowy Owls Spotted in the South

Jan. 23, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Mitik the Walrus at the New York Aquarium
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
Mitik recently left the New York Aquarium for SeaWorld San Antonio.

Beloved Walrus Leaves N.Y.

Mitik the baby walrus made headlines when he became a New Yorker in October 2012. The ailing orphan was just 15 weeks old when he arrived at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island after being rescued in Alaska. But just days later, his new home sustained major damage from Hurricane Sandy. The aquarium, part of the Wildlife Conservation Society, partially reopened seven months later, but it’s now breaking ground on a long-planned expansion. During that time, Mitik’s keepers thought he might be happier somewhere else. So, last week, the now 700-pound walrus flew via Fed Ex (with a handler) to SeaWorld San Antonio, where he’s expected to live for the next two years. He’s now healthy and beginning to socialize with other walruses for the first time. “He’s making a funny transition from understanding that he’s a human to understanding that he’s a walrus,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium. “During his first look at a walrus, he was like, ‘What’s that?’” The aquarium plans to bring Mitik back to New York when its construction is complete. — Read it at The New York Times

Despite Mystery, Jerky Treats Return to Shelves

A year after Nestle Purina and Del Monte pulled their jerky treats for dogs from store shelves because officials said they found low levels of antibiotics in them, they’re set to return to store in the next few weeks. While this recall wasn’t linked to deaths or illnesses, the FDA has been investigating a tie between jerky treats and nearly 600 pet deaths since 2007. The agency said fewer reports of deaths and illnesses linked to jerky have been reported since the recall, likely because there were fewer of the treats on the market. The FDA is still trying to solve the mystery of how jerky treats and pet illnesses are connected. — Read it at NBC News

Quarter of Sharks at Risk of Extinction

After its first global analysis of sharks, rays and chimaeras, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has found that one quarter of them are at risk of extinction. Their risk is substantially higher than that of most other animals. "In greatest peril are the largest species of rays and sharks, especially those living in shallow water that is accessible to fisheries," said the IUCN’s Nick Dulvy. They are particularly threatened by overfishing, researchers said. The analysis was published in the journal eLIFE. — Read it at Live Science

"Instead of snow falling on the beaches of Cape Hatteras to start #2014, a snowy owl perched on the beach," Tweeted Cape Hatteras, N.C., National Park Service on Jan. 2.
"Instead of snow falling on the beaches of Cape Hatteras to start #2014, a snowy owl perched on the beach," Tweeted Cape Hatteras, N.C., National Park Service on Jan. 2.

Snowy Owls Appear in South

What’s Hedwig doing in Florida? In what could be the largest migration of the famed snowy owl to the southeastern U.S. in 20 years, the Arctic birds have been spotted in the sunshine state, as well as Kansas, Washington, D.C., Bermuda and North Carolina. The rare appearances have had bird watchers and Harry Potter fans alike combing the East Coast for a sighting of the beautiful white owls. Experts aren’t sure why the owls are traveling so far south this year, but some theorize that it has to do with food. "When lemming populations are low, snowy owls don't breed. Consequently, those are years we don't see these owls in the southern U.S. and Canada," said Denver Holt of the Owl Research Institute in Montana. But he recommends people try to see them while they can — they’re expected to head back north in March. — Read it at National Geographic

Dog Rescued After Mountain Fall

A 1-year-old Belgian Malinois and Pit Bull mix named Charlotte was rescued Tuesday afternoon from the Chuckanut Mountains in Washington. The dog had fallen 150 feet on Monday night after getting off her leash, and survived the night on the side of a cliff because her owner and an animal control officer could hear her barks but couldn’t see her in the dark. About a dozen people, including members of the Whatcom County Search & Rescue Council, helped pull Charlotte to safety in a large duffel bag. She suffered serious injuries and is being treated at a local animal hospital. — Read it at Washington’s Bellingham Herald


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