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Wildlife officials rescue otter pups found at Florida construction site

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Three North American river otter pups have been in the care of the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary for the past two weeks.

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The 5-week-old pups have remained highly dependent on their caretakers since they were found at a residential construction site in Titusville, Florida.

When the den was found, an adult otter ran off and didn’t return, WFTV reported.

"(They’re) doing well, but their condition could change at any moment," said Tracy Frampton, the hospital’s executive director. "No matter how hard we try, Mom does a better job than we do."

>> Photos: Rescued otter pups

If the otters survive the critical early period, they’ll be moved to an outdoor enclosure with a pool and fed live food sometime around July or August.  

Frampton said the hospital is in need of donations. The cost of raising each otter is about $2,300.

"If you find otter pups in the wild, leave them alone," Frampton said. "As tempting as it is to intervene, their mom is probably nearby and returning shortly."

Rare whale spotted off South Carolina coast

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One of the rarest whales in the world was spotted off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month.

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The North Atlantic right whale, nicknamed Chiminea, was seen swimming near Folly Beach, just miles from Charleston.

It was the first confirmed sighting of the species in the state in almost three years, according to The Charleston Post and Courier. 

North Atlantic right whales, which generally average 40-60 feet in length and can weigh more than 100,000 pounds, are among the most endangered whales in the world. In December 2015, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium released a report confirming that 526 right whales still exist. That number had increased by four from the previous year.

North Atlantic right whales, named because their valuable blubber made them the "right" whale to hunt, have been protected from whalers since the 1930s. Even still, they face many manmade threats like entanglements in fishing ropes and netting, ship strikes and water and noise pollution. 

The right whales, which can also be found off the coasts of Georgia and Florida, seem to be increasing slowly in number. The number of living whales in 2014 was two times the number reported in 1996. On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said biologists spotted three new right whale calves off the coast of Georgia in just two days.

All right whales are identified and cataloged using numbers, according to the organization

Cincinnati Zoo names baby penguin after David Bowie

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On Jan. 8, the day musical icon David Bowie turned 69 years old, the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed a new baby penguin.

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The baby bird, small enough to fit in one hand, remained nameless as the zoo took suggestions from fans and social media users. 

Ultimately, zoo workers agreed to name the penguin Bowie.

“It’s such a fitting name,” Cincinnati Zoo communications coordinator Angela Hatke told CBS.

Shortly after hatching, Bowie proved his name was well-fitting. Workers said he started squeaking and chirping, sometimes along with some of the British singer-songwriter's greatest hits.

"Before anything happened, (zookeepers) were playing David Bowie music — they’re huge fans — in the nursery where the penguin was set up,” Hatke said.

The death of David Bowie added meaning to the penguin chick's name.

“Now there’s a cute little penguin that has his namesake, bringing some good news to it,” Hatke said.

"What a wonderful way to pay tribute to David Bowie," one woman posted on Facebook.

“Maybe David Bowie’s soul rests in the baby penguin,” one man wrote.

Bowie the 3-day-old little penguin is doing fine in the Zoo's nursery.  He was born on Friday, David Bowie's birthday,...Posted by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Monday, January 11, 2016

Meet Bowie, the first Cincinnati Zoo baby of 2016! This little blue penguin chick hatched on January 8th and received the name "Bowie" for the music icon that it shares a birthday with. The penguin chick's name has since taken on added meaning. Keepers even played David Bowie music for the chick - who's gender won't be confirmed for several weeks. #Bowie #davidbowie #littlebluepenguin #penguin #penguinchick #closeenoughtocare A photo posted by Cincinnati Zoo (@cincinnatizoo) on Jan 11, 2016 at 10:51am PST

Cats are awesome and here's why

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National Cat Day has come and gone, but your cat is no less awesome.

Or, if you're not a cat person, it's not too late to become one. After all, Popular Science has spoken to cat researcher John Bradshaw about why hating cats is actually not worth the negative effort.

For one, unlike a child or a dog, cats are content with being on their own, separated from their owners (or guardians). "Your cat's a mingler, an explorer," the website says.

Yet that doesn't make a cat any less affectionate. When a cat rubs itself against a human or another feline, it is not to mark its territory with its scent as is popularly believed.

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Bradshaw says this action is a social action and should be interpreted warmly.

As for cats hating human touch? That survey was conducted in Brazil where house cats are less common than small dogs, according to PopSci.

And while it may have ferocious-looking fangs and sharp claws, your house cat is probably a clumsy hunter at best, Bradshaw says.

Cat owners may be programmed to love their feline friends more because of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, according to PopSci. As it turns out, though, the parasite is more effective at controlling thoughts of women than men.

Read more here.

Watch: Bed-making pitbull has a new family

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Rush, the adorable pitbull that makes his own bed, has been adopted.

On Tuesday, a video released by the SICSA Pet Adoption Center in Dayton, Ohio showed Rush making his own bed. The one-year-old homeless pitbull, had been at the shelter for over 30 days. While in the shelter, he made a name for himself as the dog that made his own bed every day.

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Now, less than a week later, Rush is the new addition to a loving family.

The Ohio couple that adopted Rush says they saw the pitbull at different times without knowing they were interested in the same dog.

“He saw him on the news. I didn’t. And then I saw him on a rescue site,” the woman said.

After they realized they both wanted to adopt the same dog, the woman began the official adoption process.  

On the way to meet Rush, the couple saw a sign–literally and figuratively– that told them Rush might be the dog for them.

“There was a Bengal’s billboard, and it said in big, bold letters, ‘Rush,’” the woman said.

“It actually says, ‘Rush to be there,’ but the ‘to be’ is small,” said the man.

On Thursday, Rush did a test sleepover with the couple.

“Rush took his blankie and went on a sleepover until Friday with a potential adopter,” the center posted on Facebook.

After a successful sleepover, he is now officially a part of the family.

The husband and wife lost their dog earlier this year and are excited to be Rush’s new parents.

Elephant selfie goes viral

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The ever-wise elephant is technologically savvy, too, apparently.

Christian LeBlanc, 22, discovered this while studying abroad in Thailand two months ago. He and his girlfriend were on Koh Phangan Island when they "came across a couple of elephants." They fed the lot of animals with a 50-cent basket of bananas, he said, but the elephants wanted more food.

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After getting "touchy" trying to find more food, the elephant eventually got a hold of LeBlanc's GoPro, which was still shooting.

Although LeBlanc said he can't officially take credit for the photo (that belongs to the elephant), he did say, "The result was world's first ever 'Elphie.'"

Just had an article written about my #elphie (elephant selfie, clever I know) in the Daily Mail and the Mirror UK  UPDATE: It's now everywhere! You can't hide ! A photo posted by Christian LeBlanc (@christian_leblanc) on May 19, 2015 at 7:16am PDT

Blind dog in spotlight at Iditarod

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In order for Big Lake musher Kelly Maixner to rebound from last year's late race withdrawal with a top 10 finish this time around, he will need the help of a Laura, a sled dog diagnosed with pannus, which is "a progressive inflammatory disease of the cornea," according to Eye Care for Animals.

A 5-year-old and 50 pound husky with eye trouble, Laura doesn't like to lead her pack as she relied more on the other lead dog when placed in front. But that hasn't stopped her her spirit from propelling the team.

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Speaking to KTUU Thursday, Maixner described how the dog's visual impairment affects her ability to find him when he calls her name.

During snack time "I'll put a snack in front of her face and she won't see it, but then I just throw it on the ground, and then she hears that, and then she puts her head down on the ground and starts sniffing for it," he told a local reporter. 

Despite her illness, Laura is reliable runner, Maixner said to the station. She is also a favorite among her handlers. 

This is Maixner's fifth time participating in the race.

Laura is named for his grandmother.   

Stream National Aviary penguin nest cam

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In anticipation of the hatching of penguin chicks, the National Aviary installed a high-resolution infrared penguin nest cam this week.

The camera gives the public an intimate view inside the nesting cave of a pair of African penguins within its Penguin Point exhibit. The pair is Sidney and Bette, parents to two other sets of penguins hatched at the National Aviary in 2012 and 2013. 

WATCH LIVE: National Aviary’s penguin nest cam

National Aviary officials said the nest has two eggs, which were laid on Nov. 9 and 11. The eggs are expected to hatch next week, between Monday and Thursday. 

“We are thrilled to share this exciting time with the public,” said National Aviary Managing Director Cheryl Tracy in a written statement. “Penguins are such beloved animals, and the outstanding camera clarity provides a thrilling look into the penguins’ world. This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness for this critically endangered species and how we care for them at the National Aviary.”

The National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit is home to 17 African penguins.

African penguins are a critically endangered species, with less than 20,000 remaining in the wild. 

As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, the National Aviary’s penguins are part of an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African penguins for future generations.

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The camera and installation services were generously donated by M&P Security Solutions, LLC, a veteran-owned business serving the Greater Pittsburgh area. 

“We were immediately intrigued by the unique nature of this project as well as the intense challenge it presented,” said Patrick Presto and Jason Martin, co-owners of M&P Security Solutions. “After understanding the budgetary constraints for the project, we decided this would be a great opportunity to give back to our community; we donated the camera and all labor to the National Aviary.”

If all goes as anticipated, National Aviary officials said the penguin chicks would remain in the nest for the first three to four weeks. They would then be moved inside to be hand-reared by National Aviary staff. 

This special upbringing will ensure they are ready to fulfill their future roles as ambassadors for their species in the National Aviary’s educational and interactive programs. 

The public is invited to watch the cam at www.PenguinNestCam.org, and visitors to the National Aviary can see the cave and catch a glimpse of parents Sidney and Bette.

WATCH: Eagle flies over Paris with camera on its back

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"Freedom, the Flight of an Eagle" is a crowdfunded project from France that aims to one day bring back the white-tailed eagle out of captivity and into the country's open air. 

The above video is one of many in what's called "docu-fiction" series. Co-creators Jacques-Olivier Travers, a bird enthusiast, and Muriel Barra, the producer and co-writer, film their subject, Rio the white-tailed eagle, in a natural habitat fending for survival but set to theme of "a philosophical tale, an ode to freedom." 

More on the project can be found here. (FYI: The page is written in French and requires a translator to be viewed in English.)

More videos can be seen on the YouTube channel.

Panda-monium at the SF Zoo

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