Pet Scoop: Wild Otter and Pup Visit Aquarium, Elusive Bay Cat Photographed in Borneo

Jan. 24, 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 mother otter and her young pup were spotted floating around Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tide Pool on Wednesday.
A mother otter and her young pup were spotted floating around Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tide Pool on Wednesday.

Wild Otters Enchant Visitors

It’s not unusual for a mom to take her little one to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the California coast. But human visitors were delighted on Wednesday, when a mother otter and her very young, very fluffy pup were spotted in the facility’s Great Tide Pool. The adorable pair drifted around the pool, which sits on the edge of the coastline, while visitors snapped pictures and videos. It’s been an exciting week at the aquarium, where otters are concerned. Just the day before the mom and pup’s surprise visit, a 12-week-old rescued male pup went on exhibit with his companion otter, Gidget. The little guy was found stranded and is being cared for by the aquarium until he’s ready to be transferred to a permanent home at another zoo or aquarium, later this year. — See more photos from Monterey Bay Aquarium

GPS Data Reveals Leader of the Dog Pack

Researchers at Oxford University were able to describe the major traits of a dog, sight unseen, by using data from GPS tracking devices placed on the dog’s harness while they were out for a group walk. “Over longer timescales it soon becomes clear that some dogs are followed by peers more often than others,” said study co-author Máté Nagy. The dogs who consistently took the lead on group walks were more responsive to training, easier to control and more aggressive than the dogs who are more likely to follow. According to questionnaires filled out by their owners, the same dogs who led often were also more dominant in other everyday situations. The study was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. — Read it at Discovery News

Turkey Skin Inspires Smartphone Biosensor

Using the swelling and contracting of blood vessels, turkeys have the ability to change the color of their heads from whites to blues to reds. Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are trying to mimic that ability and create a biosensor that can change color when it detects certain toxins. The biosensor has a companion app that analyzes the color changes to report on which chemicals are present. The researchers reported on their work in the journal Nature Communications. — Read it at CNET

Fox Carolina News and the Greenville County Pet Rescue were asking people to share this image of Soldier the dog and the photo found in his collar.
Fox Carolina News and the Greenville County Pet Rescue were asking people to share this image of Soldier the dog and the photo found in his collar.

Dog’s Collar Holds Mystery Photo

Officials at the Greenville, S.C., County Pet Rescue are asking for the public’s help in figuring out why a Pit Bull found on the streets last month was wearing a collar with an old photo of a soldier tucked inside. Other than the black and white picture of a soldier smiling into the camera, the dog had no other identifying information, and the shelter hasn’t had any clues as to who’s in the photo or why it was with the dog. “It’s so bizarre,” said Susan Bufano, the shelter’s community relations coordinator. ”Absolutely anything is possible … I can’t imagine this photo made it in there on accident.” The collar itself appears to be new, and was different than any the shelter workers have seen before. The 2-year-old dog, who’s been named Soldier, must find a home soon or, sadly, risks being put down. — Read it at Time

Rare Bay Cat Caught on Camera

A photographer working with the wildcat conservation group Panthera captured a stunningly detailed photo of the extremely elusive Borneo bay cat. It’s one of the first high-resolution images of the mysterious cat, who’s previously been spotted only in grainy camera trap images. Experts know very little about the island’s bay cat, which is smaller in size than the average house cat. Sightings of it are rare because it’s nocturnal, has a low population density and behaves quite secretively. The cat is listed as endangered, and its forest habitat is threatened by logging. — See photo at Live Science

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