L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Video goodness: Confused dog moos like a cow

When the news stories of the day are less than uplifting, we often find that it brightens our mood substantially to take a short funny-animal-video break.

We think we've found the perfect spirit-lifting video, in which a little dog seems to think he's a cow when surrounded by a mooing herd.

This pup's immersion in bovine culture seems to have an immediate effect on his vocalizations, rather like a trip to Canada can make an American start ending declaritive sentences like questions.

We dare you to watch this and not crack a smile. Go ahead and try!

Your morning adorable: Pembroke Welsh corgis play tetherball
Video goodness: Hey, that's no midfielder! Terrier crashes soccer game, tries to catch the ball

— Lindsay Barnett

Video: cycone via YouTube

Obama administration officials and wildlife advocates reach uneasy agreement over gray wolves' status

A gray wolf in Montana

BILLINGS, Mont. — Facing mounting pressure from lawmakers over gray wolves, wildlife advocates reached an agreement with the Obama administration Friday to lift protections for the species in Montana and Idaho and allow hunting.

The settlement agreement, opposed by some environmentalists, is intended to resolve years of litigation that has kept wolves in the Northern Rockies shielded by the Endangered Species Act even as the population expanded dramatically.

It also is meant to preempt action by Congress, where western Republicans are leading efforts to strip wolves of their protections nationwide.

"For too long, wolf management in this country has been caught up in controversy and litigation instead of rooted in science, where it belongs. This proposed settlement provides a path forward," said Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes.

Court documents detailing the proposed agreement between the U.S. Department of Interior and ten conservation groups were filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Montana.

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Necropsy performed to try to determine cause of death for Knut, Berlin Zoo's famous polar bear

A makeshift shrine for Knut the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo

BERLIN — Veterinary experts performed a necropsy Monday on Berlin zoo's celebrity polar bear Knut to try to determine why he died suddenly over the weekend.

The 4-year-old polar bear died Saturday afternoon in front of visitors, turning around several times and then dropping to the ground, and falling into the water in his enclosure.

Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild and longer in captivity, and the zoo is hoping the investigation may help clarify what happened.

Results were expected later Monday or on Tuesday, the zoo said.

In the meantime, people continued to flock to the zoo to sign their names in a condolence book in tribute to Knut.

"Every visit to the Zoo brought happiness, because he was such a warmhearted animal and he brought us all so much fun," visitor Eveline Plat told AP Television News.

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Ask a Vet: What should I do for a puppy who won't eat breakfast?

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some tips for dealing with a puppy who refuses to eat breakfast.

DogEat Jillian's question: My friend adopted Poppy, a 6- month-old puppy, from the county shelter. However, Poppy, who is fed three small meals a day, has been refusing to eat breakfast. She will eat lunch and dinner, but she picks at her food and does not always finish. My friend gives her Wellness dog food and mixes in some wet food as well. Is this a sign of illness? Do you have any recommendations to encourage young Poppy to eat?

Heather Oxford, DVM: This is actually one of the most common questions I am asked as a veterinarian. Some dogs are just finicky, or don't seem to be very food-motivated. In these cases, the most common meal for them to skip is breakfast, and they usually require a little bit of activity or stimulation to become hungry. Also, if your friend is going by the feeding instructions on the pet food bag, there is a strong possibility it is simply too much food. In general, food labels instruct owners to feed 2-3 times what their metabolic requirements call for, which is a major cause of animal obesity in this country.

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Canadian harp seals coming to American waters in larger numbers

Harp Seal

PORTLAND, Maine — Harp seals from Canada are showing up in U.S. waters in greater numbers and farther south than usual, and biologists want to know why.

Small numbers of juvenile harp seals are typically found each winter stranded along the coast of the northeastern United States. But this year, well more than 100 adult harp seals -- not juveniles -- have been spotted, said Mendy Garron, regional marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Gloucester, Mass. The sightings are reported by 14 seal stranding and rehabilitation organizations in New England and the Middle Atlantic.

"In some areas they're reporting three times the normal number of sightings," Garron said. "This year, we've had four sightings of adult harp seals in North Carolina, which we've never had before. We typically don't see them that far south."

Seals are common in New England waters, where the most abundant type is the harbor seal, with a population estimated at about 100,000 the last time they were surveyed a decade ago. Gray seals are the second most common seal.

But those numbers are piddling compared to the number of harp seals found in the northwest Atlantic. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 9 million of them can be found off Canada and Greenland.

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Your morning adorable: Koala joey makes her debut at the San Francisco Zoo

Baby koala at the San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo is still celebrating the birth of its newest koala joey -- despite the fact that she was born back in 2010.

Zoo staff first discovered the baby when they checked the pouch of her mother, Zakary, in December. Since koalas are born a little, shall we say, underdone, they remain in their mothers' pouches for months after birth; the joey didn't emerge fully from Zakary's pouch until February. She debuted to media photographers earlier this month.

The joey is the first koala to be born at the zoo since 2000. She hasn't yet been named.

The San Francisco Zoo is a participant in a conservation breeding program designed to help koalas bounce back from a steep population drop that's due in part to an outbreak of stress-induced chlamydiosis among wild members of the species. Both Zakary and the joey's father, Travis Jr., came to the San Francisco Zoo from the San Diego Zoo as part of a temporary loan agreement.

See more photos and video of the joey after the jump!

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Knut, Berlin Zoo's famous polar bear, dies at age 4

Baby Knut

Knut, the polar bear who charmed millions as an adorable cub when a Berlin zookeeper hand-raised him after he was rejected by his mother, died Saturday. He was 4 years old.

Knut was reportedly alone in an outdoor enclosure -- he shared the space with three other bears, including his mother Tosca, all of whom were inside at the time -- when he "strolled around the enclosure, went into the water, had a short spasm and died," Heiner Kloes, a bear keeper at the Berlin Zoo, told the Associated Press.

Zoogoers watched in horror until zoo staff fenced off the enclosure from view. "Everybody was asking, 'What's going on, why is Knut not moving?' " visitor Camilla Verde recalled to the AP. "All the zookeepers who put up the fences were so very sad. One of them said, 'He was our baby.' "

Baby Knut His exact cause of death is unknown, and a necropsy -- an animal autopsy -- is expected to be performed Monday. His death is especially troubling because of his young age. At 4, he was still essentially a teenager in human terms and hadn't even reached his adult weight or sexual maturity yet. 

For a seemingly healthy polar bear to die at age 4 is "a little bit surprising," Peter Ewins, an arctic species specialist for the World Wildlife Fund, told ABC News. "In captivity, polar bears can live longer than in the wild; to 25 or 30. Even more than 30 years old because they're not exposed to the elements and hard realities of life in the wild."

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Southern California animal lovers' calendar: Weekend of March 19-20 and beyond

St. Patrick's Dogs

If you want to extend your St. Patrick's Day celebrating while helping pets, combine your love of animals with a trip to the flea market or party for pelicans, you'll find plenty to do in Southern California this weekend. Think we're forgetting something or want to alert us to an upcoming event? Let us know by leaving a comment on this post or sending us a tweet @LATunleashed.

This Weekend:

Saturday-Sunday, March 19-20, it's time once again for Spring Pet Days, an annual event for animal lovers at the Orange County Market Place, the weekend swap meet at the O.C. Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. Meet adoptable pets from local rescue groups; shop at pet-centric vendor booths; attend presentations about pet wellness, disaster preparedness for animals, pet training, dog-breed discrimination, the benefits of pet adoption and other topics; and enjoy the flea market if you're so inclined. Pet Days activities are included in the price of swap meet admission ($2 for adults and kids over 12), or get in free with a donation of dog or cat food (no expired or open food), pet toys, blankets, crates, carriers, food and water bowls, leashes, beds, healthy treats and towels or a gift card to a pet store. Donated items will be distributed to rescue groups attending the event. Pets should stay at home. More information at OCMarketplace.com.

Saturday, March 19, celebrate St. Patrick's Day a little bit late and you just might find the adoptable pet of your dreams. The L.A. Department of Animal Services and Ruff Patches have teamed up to present "St. Pawtrick's Day," a green (as in environmentally friendly, but we bet there will be plenty of people and pets decked out in green getups as well) adoption event for needy pets currently awaiting homes at the department's six shelters and local rescue groups. St. Pawtrick's Day kicks off at 10 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. at the East Valley, West Valley, North Central, South L.A., West L.A. and Harbor animal shelters. The event features discounted adoption fees, a "Kiss the Blarney Dog" kissing booth, matchmakers to pair you with the perfect pet, eco-friendly pet products, refreshments, professional training advice and giveaways. More information at RuffPatches.org.

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Your morning adorable: What's cuter than a north China leopard cub in a basket? Not much

North China leopard cub

The battle for the title of cutest animal baby at the Berlin Zoo is a hotly contested one — think wolf pups, a guanaco calf, caracal kittens, African lion cubs and moose calves, all stunningly adorable in their own way — but we think this north China leopard cub gives them all a run for their money.

The cub, a female named Nekama, was born at the zoo in early January but made her official debut before media photographers on Tuesday.

The north China leopard is one of nine recognized leopard subspecies, rather closely resembling its relative the Amur leopard. As an adult, Nekama is likely to weigh around 70 pounds.

See more photos of Nekama after the jump!

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Use of controversial 'Rodenator' device to kill prairie dogs in Colorado upsets some residents

BOULDER, Colo. — Landowners have been using an explosive, state-approved device to blow up prairie dog holes -- and some neighbors don't like it.

The Daily Camera reported Thursday that the Colorado Wildlife Commission approved the "Rodenator" in 2006. It explodes burrows by igniting a propane mixture pumped into the holes.

PrairieDog Nearby residents in Boulder have complained the method is inhumane and extremely loud. Some have reported seeing prairie dogs on fire.

Boulder County sheriff's officials have estimated the explosions exceed the county's sound limit of 55 decibels.

Employees at a ranch where the device is being used say it isn't meant to kill the animals.

It's illegal to use Rodenator in Boulder, but not in the county, where the ranch is located.

Debate rages about use of squirrel-detonating Rodenator in Spokane, Wash.
Valley Forge park officials are urged to use coyotes, not hunters, to control deer population

-- Associated Press

Video: A resident explains her concerns about the use of the Rodenator. Credit: Daily Camera
Photo: A prairie dog in Los Angeles in 2009. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times