Pet Scoop: Zoo Atlanta Panda Gives Birth to Twins, 7 Beagles Freed From Laboratory

July 16, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Giant panda Lun Lun gave birth to tiny twin cubs at Zoo Atlanta.
Zoo Atlanta
Giant panda Lun Lun gave birth to tiny twin cubs at Zoo Atlanta.

Giant Panda Twins Surprise Keepers

The tiny cubs were born to 15-year-old mom Lun Lun on Monday night at Zoo Atlanta, the first giant panda twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987. Lun Lun has had three other cubs, but has never had twins. An ultrasound on June 30 showed that Lun Lun was pregnant — but it only revealed one cub. So, the animal care team was surprised when the second baby arrived, two minutes after the first. “It’s TWINS!” the zoo announced on its Facebook page. Officials said they would likely rotate the cubs, keeping one in a nursery while the other gets care from Lun Lun, to ensure they both get enough attention without overwhelming their mom. When panda twins are born in the wild, it’s normal for only one of them to survive because the mother focuses on caring for the strongest baby. But the Zoo Atlanta team is trying to keep both of the endangered cubs healthy. “We’re thrilled to welcome Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s twins,” said Raymond B. King, the zoo’s president and CEO. “Twins are an entirely new scenario for Lun Lun, Zoo Atlanta and our animal care teams, who will no doubt be extremely busy over the next few months.” — Read it at Zoo Atlanta

Puffins Return to Maine Islands

Young puffins died at an alarming rate last summer, due to a shortage of herring. But as they returned to several Maine islands this year, the seabirds known for their colorful beaks have plenty of herring and hake available to feed their chicks. Still, researchers are concerned that puffin burrows the two largest U.S. puffin colonies are down by at least a third this season, said Steve Kress, director of the National Audubon Society's seabird restoration program. Puffins are less adaptable than other seabirds, making them a good indicator of the health of oceans, he said. — Read it at AP via the Huffington Post

Reward Offered for Clues to Poisoned Meatballs

A Dachshund named Oskar died on Friday in San Francisco, just over a week after eating a poisoned meatball left on a city street. Dozens of meatballs laced with rat poison were found in the Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights areas of the city. Police said they were deliberately placed in spots where dogs defecate. They’re following up on tips in the case, and now the Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. Oskar is one of two dogs believed to have consumed the tainted meat, and authorities are warning residents that they can’t be sure that all of the meatballs have been found. They said to call 911 if one is found because they can be lethal to humans, too. Any dog believed to have consumed one of the meatballs should be taken to the veterinarian immediately, police said. — Read it at CBS San Francisco

One of the freed Beagles explores the outdoors on Monday.
One of the freed Beagles explores the outdoors on Monday.

Beagles Experience Outdoors

After spending their first four years of life in a Washington, D.C., area laboratory, seven Beagles got to put their paws in the grass for the first time on Monday. The six boys and one girl were rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project, and were aptly named after the Founding Fathers. Despite their experience, the dogs were “instantly warm with both people and each other,” the organization said in a blog post. Little is known about what the pups were used for in the lab, but they appear healthy now. The dogs are going into foster care until they’re ready for adoption. The California-based rescue group has saved more than 100 Beagles in the last two years. — Watch it at Washington’s WJLA

Man Rescues Endangered Whale

A rare northern right whale who was tangled in fishing rope was spotted struggling in the water off the coast of Virginia Beach over the weekend. Capt. Pat Foster and Adrian Colaprete were helping a team of scientists conduct research when they noticed that the endangered whale was dragging fishing equipment behind it. Colaprete, an experienced diver, jumped into the water and was able to cut the rope, allowing the whale to safely swim away while the fishing equipment fell to the ocean floor. — Watch it at Paw Nation

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