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WebClawer: PETA wants to neuter Knut; owners fight to save dachshund that bit vet tech; Christian blogger defends post that advocated killing Tilikum the orca

March 5, 2010 |  5:26 pm


-- Celebrity polar bear Knut is in the spotlight once again: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' German wing is calling for the young bear to be castrated over concerns that a potential mating with his current roommate would amount to inbreeding. In September, Knut was introduced to a female polar bear, Gianna, from Munich's Hellebrunn Zoo. The two are expected to live in the same enclosure until a renovation on Gianna's enclosure in Munich is complete later this year. According to PETA Germany's Frank Albrecht, a mating between Knut and Gianna could have dire consequences, since the bears have a grandparent in common. Problem: Neither Knut nor Gianna has yet reached sexual maturity, making the point a moot one, at least for another year or two. Last year, a custody dispute between two German zoos that both claimed Knut was rightfully theirs was resolved when the Berlin Zoo agreed to pay 430,000 euros to keep him. (Spiegel)

-- A miniature dachshund named Spork has become an unlikely cause célèbre after he was issued a vicious dog citation last year for biting a veterinary technician in Lafayette, Colo. Spork's owners, Kelly and Tim Walker, are fighting the citation -- which could mean a lifetime in a kennel, or worse, euthanasia -- tooth and nail (no pun intended). The Walkers say Spork, who is 10 years old and neutered, panicked at the vet's office where he was to have five teeth and a cyst removed, and bit the technician not out of viciousness but out of fear. "A fearful dog or a hurt dog is your No. 1 candidate to bite," Tim Walker said. "Most bites are out of fear and anxiety, and people who work with animals understand that. You need to be able to take a hurt, sick dog into a vet and feel confident they know how to handle that." The Walkers have spent thousands of dollars defending their beloved dog; they've also taken to Facebook and Twitter to tell their side of the story. A "Save Spork" Facebook group currently has more than 20,000 members. (Westword)

-- Conservative Christian blogger Bryan Fischer's reaction to the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in an incident involving an orca outraged many animal lovers and, Fischer now says, was taken out of context. The day after the Orlando incident, he wrote that "animal rights insanity and ... the ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture" were responsible for Brancheau's death because SeaWorld officials had failed to obey a passage from the book of Exodus. "If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit," the passage reads. But if the offending ox lives to kill again, it continues, its owner should be held responsible and "the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death." Since Tilikum, the orca that killed Brancheau, had been involved in previous human deaths, Fischer's logic goes, he should have been killed prior to last week's incident. Had he been killed earlier, Brancheau would still be alive. Fischer takes issue, however, with the idea that he advocated the stoning of the orca; he says he simply thinks Tilikum should be humanely euthanized. Best line: "Plus even if you wanted to stone a giant dolphin to death, I'm not sure exactly how you'd go about doing it." (American Family Assn.)

-- A species of octopus called the Atlantic longarm octopus has been found to mimic another species, the peacock flounder, apparently as a defensive maneuver meant to disguise it from predators. The octopuses typically swim with their tentacles trailing behind them, but several members of the species have been observed folding their tentacles and moving them in a way that resembles the motion of the flounders' fins. "It's a very athletic move," said researcher Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. More intriguing still: A lab-raised Atlantic longarm octopus, which had never been in the open sea, was also found to display the mimicry behavior, suggesting that "there might be an innate component to this swimming behavior ... that maybe this is hardwired," according to Hanlon. (National Geographic)

-- A Shropshire, England, chicken is taking over where a mother dog left off, roosting on a litter of puppies "like they were her own chicks," according to her owner, Edward Tate. The year-old hen, named Mabel, has been living inside the Tate family home due to an injury. It was in their home that she met Nettle the dog and her litter of puppies. "Mabel observed Nettle's [behavior] and, as soon as there was a chance, she hopped into the dog basket to roost on the pups," Tate said. "She keeps them and herself warm, while Nettle is outside on the yard." (Telegraph)

-- Actress Denise Richards and model Joanna Krupa recently pitched in to help the Best Friends Animal Society transport 30 small dogs from L.A. County's Baldwin Park animal shelter to a Salt Lake City shelter with a waiting list for Chihuahuas and other small breeds. The animal-loving stars helped to prepare the dogs for the 14-hour drive from Southern California to Utah -- and when the work was over, Richards found herself unable to leave two dogs that didn't make the trip behind at the shelter. She announced on Twitter that she's fostering the brother-and-sister pair and hopes they'll find a permanent home where they can remain together. Best Friends regularly transports small dogs from L.A.-area shelters, where they are often euthanized for lack of space, to Utah, where they're placed in new adoptive homes. (PeoplePets)

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: Knut the polar bear rolls in the snow in his enclosure at the Berlin Zoo. Photo credit: John MacDougall / AFP/Getty Images

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