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WebClawer: Army wants to move endangered tortoises, stray dog saves rescuer's son, elephant freed from manhole

August 10, 2009 |  8:11 pm


From real-life tortoises, dogs and elephants to a presumably fictional worm that spits acid, the Web is full of animal news today.  Some of the stories that grabbed us:

-- In order to prepare for a planned expansion of a training center in the Mojave desert, the U.S. Army has proposed a plan to relocate more than 1,000 endangered California desert tortoises.  The problem? A similar attempt last year, in which 600 of the tortoises were to be moved, ended with the project's being suspended after its first phase when about 90 of the animals were found dead, mainly because of predation by coyotes. The federal Bureau of Land Management must approve the Army's request before it can be put into action; the bureau is conducting an assessment of the situation. (Greenspace)

-- It's a real-life pet story reminiscent of "Old Yeller": When a Florida woman found a stray terrier mix, she left it in the care of a neighbor, Yolanda, and the two women set about trying to find its owner. In the days that passed, Yolanda's two sons, 10-year-old Azaiah and 21-year-old Christian, who has Down syndrome, grew attached to the little dog, whom they named RaeLee. Shortly thereafter, RaeLee interrupted Yolanda while she was watering plants on her porch, barking frantically. Yolanda reentered the house and the little dog led her to Christian, who was having a severe seizure that could have resulted in death. The next morning, Yolanda received a call from RaeLee's owner, who called him Odie and wanted him back. But after seeing the boys' distraught faces when he came to claim the dog, the man changed his mind and allowed them to keep him.  (Fox News)

-- New Zealand journalist David Farrier has embarked upon a bizarre mission: To find out if a fabled-but-never-documented creature called the Mongolian death worm actually exists. To that end, Farrier and cameraperson Christie Douglas plan to spend two weeks in the Gobi desert to attempt to find the death worm; they hope to make a documentary on the subject. According to legend, the creature measures close to 5 feet in length, resembles a cow's intestine and emits concentrated acid and/or lightning. Yes, seriously.  (Courier Mail)

-- A young elephant, sent to work on the streets in Thailand's Rayong province, fell into a manhole and, miraculously, lived to tell the tale. The traumatized elephant was trapped in the manhole for three hours before a bulldozer was brought in to widen the hole, allowing it to be lifted to safety.  (Metro U.K.)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A California desert tortoise.  Credit: John Vandewege / Los Angeles Times

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