March 4, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Beignet the dog adopted Gumbo the kitten after they were abandoned by their owners.

Dog Found Nursing Tiny Kitten

After a California family moved away, their neighbors discovered they’d left their longhaired Chihuahua and a kitten behind. Neighbors could hear the pair in the backyard of their home, where they found the 1-year-old dog nursing the 5-month-old kitten she’d decided to adopt as her own. They were brought to a local shelter, and arrived at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., last week. Today, they’ll be introduced to the public in the rescue’s 2nd Annual Doggie Gras Parade and Fat Cat Tuesday Celebration. The two have been aptly named for their Mardi Gras debut — the pup is now called Beignet and her kitten son is known as Gumbo. “They love each other. That’s all there is to it. It’s not complicated,” said the center’s inventory manager, Labeth Thompson. “They needed each other and they were there for each other.” The parade serves as the kickoff to find a new home where the bonded duo can live together. — Read it from the Helen Woodward Animal Center

Yosemite’s Strict Food Storage Rules Pay Off

In 1998, Yosemite National Park had a record 1,584 incidents with black bears, so park officials enacted new food storage requirements to keep the animals from stealing food and garbage from human visitors. Bears who come to rely on human food often become aggressive, the park says. A new study that tracked the diets of nearly 200 bears using hair samples shows that the effort is working. The rules are credited with cutting the amount of human food consumed by the bears by 63 percent. Starting in 1999, the park installed metal lockers for campers, required plastic storage containers for hikers and got funding for inspections by rangers. Everything has to go into storage and be kept out of sight in cars, from food to toothpaste and baby wipes. The results suggest "that the bear's diets are likely going back to their natural diet,” said Jack Hopkins, lead study author and a wildlife ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. — Read it at Live Science

Sparrows Prefer Weaker Neighbors

A new study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, finds that if an intruding male chipping sparrow enters another male’s territory, the neighboring male is only likely to come to the aid of his neighbor if he is weaker. Researchers say one way the birds can determine who’s weaker is by the speed of their trills. Faster trills usually signal a more aggressive bird while a slower trill is an indicator of a meeker sparrow. For a male sparrow, a stronger neighbor poses a threat to his reproductive success. “They want to keep their lousy neighbors,” said Sarah Goodwin, a doctoral student who led the study. The findings were published in the journal Biology Letters. — Read it at The New York Times

A Good Samaritan rescued a badly injured dog from the HOV lane of a Texas highway.

Injured Dog Rescued From Freeway

A Good Samaritan in Houston, Texas, risked his life to save an injured Labrador Retriever mix from the HOV lane on the Eastex Freeway after he heard about her on a radio traffic report Friday morning. Video from KHOU shows Rickey Young pulling over in his pickup truck and climbing over a barrier to try to approach the skittish dog. He quickly returned to his truck to get a sandwich he was planning to eat for lunch, and used it to lure the dog to safety. "I could see that she was thankful and that she was happy to be in a safer environment," Young said. Young brought the dog to the Houston SPCA, where she was treated for broken bones and internal bleeding. — Watch it at the Huffington Post

Otters Return to Full Strength in Prince William Sound

Several thousand sea otters died in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez disaster off the southern coast of Alaska 25 years ago. The oil tanker ran aground in March 1989, leaking nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound. Now, a report from the U.S. Geological Survey finds that the otters have recovered to their pre-spill numbers in the most affected parts of the sound. The study found that the otters had a slow pace of recovery because they continued to be exposed to the oil when they were digging into sediment on the sea floor. The otters are among more than 20 near-shore animal species who were impacted by the spill. — Read it from Reuters via the Washington Post