L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Good News

Happy Feet, wayward emperor penguin found in New Zealand, is released

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — He needed a little push before speeding backward down a makeshift slide. Once in the water, he popped his head up for one last look. And then he was gone. The wayward emperor penguin known as "Happy Feet" was back home in Antarctic waters after an extended sojourn spent capturing hearts in New Zealand.

Happy Feet was released Sunday into the ocean south of New Zealand, more than two months after he came ashore on a beach nearly 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) from home and became an instant celebrity.

Speaking from a satellite phone aboard the research vessel Tangaroa, Wellington Zoo veterinarian Lisa Argilla said Happy Feet's release went remarkably smoothly given that the boat was being tossed about in 25-foot (8-meter) swells in the unforgiving Antarctic ocean.

Argilla said crew members from the boat carried the penguin inside his custom-built crate to the stern of the ship for his final send-off about 50 nautical miles (90 kilometers) north of remote Campbell Island. The crew had already cut the engines and put in place a canvas slide that they soaked with water from a hose.

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Stan Lee, simians' superhero?

Comic book legend Stan Lee

Since my column on comics wunder mensch Stan Lee appeared, I've heard from loads of his fans –- and now, I've heard just what he’s a fan of.

The Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky., is the beneficiary of Lee's pen and brain and heart. He and artist Dean Haspiel drew a zinger, a four-panel comic for the online charity graphic anthology called Panels for Primates, to benefit the center. Have a look.

The killing in the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Murders in Rue Morgue," often credited as the first detective story, was committed by an orangutan; maybe it's time for someone like Stan Lee to put the Spandex suit on a simian and make a superhero out of him for a change?

Justin Bieber's hair helps rescued farm animals -- wait, what?
Paul McCartney asks India's prime minister to declare a national Vegetarian Day

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Lee arrives at the premiere of "Thor" in Hollywood on May 2, 2011. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images

Dog plucked from debris in dramatic Japan rescue is reunited with her owner

TOKYO — A dog rescued from drifting ocean debris immediately jumped to her owner and wagged her tail at their reunion more than three weeks after Japan's tsunami.

Japan Dog Rescue Toshio Suzuki described Monday's reunion at the animal shelter he heads in the tsunami-wrecked Miyagi region of northern Japan. The owner of the 2-year-old mixed breed named Ban saw Friday's rescue on television.

The woman was not identified for privacy reasons. Suzuki said she has an adult daughter and that the family suffered tsunami damage but was not specific.

Public broadcaster NHK aired images of the reunion with the woman hugging Ban and the dog warmly wagging her tail.

A coast guard helicopter crew spotted Ban more than a mile (2 kilometers) off the tsunami-hit town of Kesennuma in Miyagi. It wasn't known how long the dog had been at sea.

Suzuki says the shelter keeps 19 dogs and several cats separated from their owners after the March 11 tsunami.

Japanese rescuers save finless porpoise stranded in rice paddy by tsunami
Animal lovers clamor to adopt Oklahoma puppy that survived euthanasia attempt

-- Associated Press

Video: Associated Press

Photo: Ban, carried by a member of the Japan Coast Guard, arrives at Japan's Shiogama port on April 2. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

SigAlert in black-and-white fur, with a happy ending

Driving through a hilly neighborhood the other day, I saw that four cars had stopped ahead of me, for no obvious reason.

It was a fairly quiet street, so why the backup?

Once the cars began to ease forward, I did too, and I saw what the drivers had all stopped for: a fat ol' skunk had been waddling with a slow, ungainly gait across the street. Once he or she had safely reached the other side, the cars, and the skunk, went on their way.

I'm sure some cynics would say the drivers just didn't want to hit the skunk and get their cars skunked with that smell. I like to credit Angeleno drivers, in whatever hurry they're in, with kinder intent than that.

Japanese rescuers save finless porpoise stranded in rice paddy by tsunami
Animal lovers clamor to adopt Oklahoma puppy that survived euthanasia attempt

-- Patt Morrison

Japanese rescuers save finless porpoise stranded in rice paddy by tsunami

PorpoiseAnimal rescuers working to save imperiled dogs and cats in the wake of Japan's earthquake and tsunami wound up helping a very different, but just as needy, sort of animal: a young finless porpoise.

The porpoise had become trapped in a flooded rice paddy in Japan's Miyagi prefecture after the March 11 tsunami and was struggling and growing weak in the shallow water.

"A man passing by said he had found the [porpoise] in the rice paddy and that we had to do something to save it," Ryo Taira, a pet-store owner who has been instrumental in rescuing animals affected by the earthquake, told Reuters.

Taira and other volunteers rushed to save the animal, fashioning a stretcher of sorts from objects -- including a futon mattress -- strewn in the area. But they were unable to catch the porpoise with a net.

Eventually, Taira managed to catch the porpoise in his arms -- a feat he speculated to Reuters was possible only because the creature was so exhausted from its ordeal.

According to Agence France-Presse, damage to nearby aquariums caused by the disaster left the rescuers with no choice but to release the porpoise into the ocean. They wrapped it in wet towels for the trip back to open water and set it free.

Taira told Reuters that the porpoise's condition seemed to improve when it was returned to the ocean. "I don't know if it will live, but it's certainly a lot better than dying in a rice paddy," Reuters quoted the rescuer as telling Japan's Asahi Shumbun news organization.

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America's oldest known wild bird, a Laysan albatross, is found alive after fears it perished in tsunami

Wisdom the albatross

HONOLULU — The oldest known wild bird in the U.S. has returned to a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands after surviving this month's tsunami.

Officials at the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes Midway Atoll, said Monday that they are thrilled that the Laysan albatross survived the March 11 tsunami. The albatross, named Wisdom, is more than 60 years old.

Complex project leader Barry Stieglitz says the survival of the albatross reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the seabird population.

The tsunami generated by the massive earthquake off Japan killed at least 2,000 adult and 110,000 albatross chicks.

Stieglitz says it is "humbling" that the 8-pound bird is still producing chicks.

Researchers say penguins are harmed by the tracking bands used to study them
Two unusual albino blue-winged kookaburra chicks found in Queensland, Australia

-- Associated Press

Photo: Wisdom the Laysan albatross with a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in February. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey / Associated Press

Your morning adorable: Baby Francois' langur monkey makes his debut at Australia's Taronga Zoo

Baby Francois' langur monkey at the Taronga Zoo

At the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, a great deal of excitement surrounds the latest addition to the resident family of Francois' langur monkeys. A male Francois' langur named Keo-co was born Jan. 30 and ventured into an outdoor enclosure for the first time on Wednesday.

Keo-co's older sister, Elke, was born in 2009 and was the first offspring for mother Saigon. Unfortunately, Saigon didn't immediately take to motherhood and zoo staff elected to raise Elke themselves in order to ensure that she was healthy and well cared for. (Elke is now fully grown and still lives at Taronga, but she occupies a different enclosure than Saigon.)

This time around, Saigon seems to have gotten the hang of parenting and the zoo reports that Keo-co is extremely bonded to her. He is being raised both by Saigon and another resident female Francois' langur monkey, Meili. "The two mothers take care of him -- Saigon is the primary caregiver but when she needs a break Meili takes over; they take it in turns," Taronga primate keeper Roxanne Pellat told Australia's AAP news service.

Francois' langur monkeys are native to parts of Vietnam and China. They're endangered in large part due to hunting as a result of their use in some traditional medicines; they're also the victims of habitat loss and other common causes of wildlife population decline. Though members of the species are born with vivid orange coloring, their fur darkens as they age; adult Francois' langurs are primarily black with white markings.

See more photos and a video of Keo-co after the jump!

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Captive orangutans in Indonesian sanctuary may be released thanks to development company

Captive orangutans in Indonesia

TANJUNG PUTING NATIONAL PARK, Indonesia — Their black eyes peer from the slats of wooden cages, hundreds of orangutans orphaned after their mothers were shot or hacked to death for straying out of Indonesia's rapidly disappearing forests in search of food.

No one wants to get them back into the wild as much as Birute Mary Galdikas, who has devoted a lifetime to studying the great red apes, now on the verge of extinction. And for the first time in years, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, thanks to a Hong Kong-based development company's plans to protect a 91,000-hectare (224,866-acre) peatland forest along Tanjung Puting National Park's eastern edge.

"The problem has been finding a safe place to release them," said the 64-year-old scientist. "Many are ready to go right now."

A half-century ago, more than three-quarters of Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation spanning an area the width of the United States, was blanketed in plush tropical rainforest. But in the rush to supply the world with pulp, paper and, more recently, palm oil -- used in lipstick, soap and "clean-burning" fuel -- half those trees have been cleared.

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Your morning adorable: Oklahoma dog Wall-e survives euthanization


Wall-e, an adorable Oklahoman puppy, is showing the world that cats aren't the only animals with more than one life.

The 3-month-old puppy was euthanized with five brothers and sisters and tossed into a waste bin behind a shelter, only to be discovered the next morning "as healthy as he could be" by an animal control officer.

Wall-e-puppy Wall-e and his brethren, all apparently very sick, had been left at the shelter in Sulphur, Okla. But because of overcrowding and their condition, the puppies were put down. When Wall-e was found "prancing" the next day he was eventually handed over to a veterinary technician who put the story of the black-and-white terrier mix on the adoption website PetFinder.com.

Where to begin with this miracle - pup. .... On Friday 2/18 him and about 5 of his siblings where left infront of Animal Control- due to over crowding and their scrawny appearance they were euthanized that night. ... Wall-e was euthanized twice- once in the arm and then in the heart.... he was believed dead and disposed of in the dumpster "with the rest"..... On Saturday morning (2/19) the animal control officer found him very much alive and hungry...... a young girl gave him the name of Wall-e based on the animated movie since Wall-e was also a survivor/ last of his kind and then came back :)

Prospective owners from all over the United States and Canada have looked in to adopt Wall-e.

"So many people are interested," Kloski told the Associated Press. "Now we're going through and trying to find the adoption applications for the best home."

Dead dog walking: Michigan Rottweiler survives botched euthanasia attempt
Puppy nearly sent through the mail has a new home

-- Tony Pierce

Photos: Wall-E has had hundreds of offers of adoption. Credit: Associated Press

Animal lovers clamor to adopt Oklahoma puppy that survived euthanasia attempt

OKLAHOMA CITY — Hundreds of people from the United States and Canada want to adopt an Oklahoma dog that survived an attempt to euthanize it.

The puppy was one of five stray dogs that Sulphur animal control officer Scott Prall put to sleep Friday -- or so he thought. Prall found one of the dogs alive Saturday in a trash bin set aside for dead animals and took it to veterinarian technician Amanda Kloski.

"He was prancing around. He heard me drive up, and he looked up and saw me," Prall said Wednesday.

He said he initially found the stray dog near the animal shelter Friday and tried to kill it by injecting the dog with two lethal doses of a sedative in a foreleg and the heart. Each dose should have been enough to kill the dog, and the second injection was meant to ensure it worked.

Kloski noted the dog's survival on a pet adoption website, drawing the attention of Marcia Machtiger of Pittsburgh, who donated $100 so Kloski could board the dog for a week.

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