Pet Scoop: World’s Oldest Gorilla Turns 56, California Sea Otters Can Roam Freely

Dec. 21, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Colo the gorilla turns 56 on December 22.

Despite Doomsday, Gorilla Marks Major Milestone

Assuming the world doesn’t end today (as predicted by a Mayan prophecy), Ohio’s Columbus Zoo plans to party: it’s celebrating Colo the gorilla’s 56th birthday. The first gorilla to be born at a zoo, Colo is the oldest known gorilla in the world. That record was last held by Jenny at the Dallas Zoo, who died at age 55 in 2008. While zoo visitors serenade her with happy birthday wishes this weekend, Colo will indulge in a specially made cake, and her favorite food — tomatoes. This accomplished Western gorilla is the mother of three, grandmother of 16, great grandmother of eight and great-great grandmother of two.

Sea Otters to Roam Free on California Coast

In a holiday present for sea otters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to allow them to roam freely in their natural southern California coastal range, ending a 25-year-old program of relocating them so that the shellfish they eat could be reserved for fishermen. Calling the decision a “watershed moment,” Lilian Carswell, who coordinates the service’s otter recovery program, said, “We’re embracing the return of this keystone predator to the near-shore ecosystem.” — Read it at The New York Times

Whales Sing For Their Supper

Humpback whales are known for singing during breeding season, but a new study that tracked 10 of them in the Antarctic finds they also sing while foraging for food. In two cases, non-invasive multi-sensor tags recorded intense and continuous singing while the creatures were diving and lunging for food. It reveals a behavioral flexibility that allows the whales to feed continuously while exhibiting mating behaviors, researchers said. The study by researchers from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the University of California-Santa Barbara and Duke University was published in the online journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Science Daily

Wesley sits in his storefront window.

Kitty Is King at Iowa Hardware Store

In his 20 years, Wesley the cat has gone from an unwanted stray to a fixture at the Waukee Hardware Store outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Adopted by the store’s owners, Geoff and Anne Warmouth, in 1998, Wesley spends most of his days perched in the store’s window — or in a chair that’s marked with his name. The Warmouths expect to throw another big party for Wesley when he turns 21 in April, and there’s likely to be a big turnout. He’s had more than 100 guests come in to celebrate him at his past parties. Until then, he’s content to watch the world go by from his window seat. — Watch it at USA Today

The 10 Weirdest Animal Discoveries of the Year

From the birth of eight rare tentacled snakes at the National Zoo to the discovery of a beautiful, meat-eating sponge on the ocean floor, Live Science rounds up 10 of 2012’s most bizarre animal headlines. — Read it at Live Science

Taylor Swift’s Cat Loves Her New Song

We’ll leave you with this video of the country star’s adorable Scottish Fold cat, Meredith, reacting to hearing “mom” singing on the radio. “What’s on the radio right now? Is it my song?” Taylor Swift asks her pal. Meredith responds with a resounding “Meow!” — Watch it at People Pets and see our gallery of celebrity pets that made news in 2012

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