L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: People Helping Animals

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

Patrick, 'miracle' pit bull who survived fall down garbage chute, is on the road to recovery

A 1-year-old pit bull nicknamed Patrick sits next to flowers sent by a supporter in Alaska as he recovers at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, N.J., after being found starved and dumped in a trash chute.

A New Jersey pit bull named Patrick, starved and subjected to horrific abuse before his rescue last month, is being called a "miracle dog" after he survived being placed in a trash bag and thrown down the garbage chute of a Newark apartment building.

A maintenance worker removing the garbage to put it in a trash compactor noticed a bag moving slightly, opened it and discovered the emaciated dog inside. Patrick -- so named when he survived through the night into St. Patrick's Day after being found in the garbage chute March 16 -- was rushed to the local Associated Humane Societies shelter, where "veterinary staff immediately put him on intravenous fluid," according to a post on the society's website. "His temperature was so low that it did not even register on the thermometer. He was covered with heating pads and blankets. Society vet tech Gina DeSalvo held the pit bull in her arms -- she soothed him, gave him warmth, comfort and bits of food. From that moment on, he looked up with gratitude in his eyes to all of the staff."

Patrick was soon moved to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, where he received a blood transfusion and other treatment. His condition is reportedly improving. Kisha Curtis, 27, the woman identified as his owner at the time of his abuse, has been charged with two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. She has pleaded not guilty to the cruelty charges and maintains she didn't throw Patrick down the garbage chute, but has reportedly admitted that she failed to provide proper care for the year-old dog, New Jersey Newsroom reported.

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Hanoi's famous Hoan Kiem turtle is captured to receive veterinary care

Vietnam's famous Hoan Kiem turtle is captured for treatment

HANOI, Vietnam — Veterinarians examined a rare giant turtle considered sacred by many Vietnamese at a makeshift hospital in Hanoi on Monday to check mysterious lesions afflicting one of the last four known members of its species.

The giant soft-shell turtle, which has a shell the size of a desk and is estimated to weigh about 440 pounds, was pulled from a lake in the heart of the capital Sunday.

Tests were being run to try to pinpoint what is ailing the creature, said Tim McCormack, program coordinator of the Asian Turtle Program. He said photos taken of it in a holding tank showed injuries on its legs and elsewhere, but it was not yet clear how serious they are.

The animal is believed to be about 80 to 100 years old, though many Vietnamese believe it is the same mythical creature said to have helped King Le Loi fend off the Chinese nearly six centuries ago.

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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

Five ways to show your love for animals this Valentine's Day

Puppies at the South LA shelter

These animal-centric options will let you show your affection for a significant other, family member or friend on Valentine's Day and help animals at the same time. We'd call that a win/win situation!

• Local group the Lu Parker Project is working to make sure every last dog at the L.A. Department of Animal Services' South L.A. shelter gets a chance to sleep on a comfortable pet bed rather than on cold, hard cement. The shelter has 140 concrete kennel runs, most of which house more than one dog at a time -- and there are nowhere near enough beds to go around. Many commercially available pet beds aren't well-suited to use in animal shelters because they aren't sufficiently durable or become soaked through when the kennel runs are hosed down during routine cleaning. So pet-bed company Kuranda is offering its raised, chew-proof and easy-to-clean beds at a discount through this program. What does it have to do with Valentine's Day? If you donate a bed (cost: $65) before Feb. 14, you'll receive a free bouquet of flowers and a Valentine's Day greeting card. Flowers and cards can be picked up Feb. 13 or Feb. 14 at one of two local locations: Sporteve in Culver City or Peet's Coffee & Tea on Main Street in Santa Monica.

• When you purchase flowers through Teleflora's ASPCA page, 20% of the cost will be donated to the animal protection organization. Prices start at $29.99 and go ... well, pretty darn high. Just make sure to check the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center page to determine which flowers are nontoxic to your pet, or be prepared to be vigilant about keeping the flowers away from your animals if you opt for something harmful if swallowed. (For instance, lilies can cause liver failure if ingested by cats, and some varieties are also toxic to dogs; daisies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination and other symptoms in dogs and cats; and irises can cause vomiting, lethargy, diahhrea and excessive salivation in both dogs and cats.)

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Tennessee's Elephant Sanctuary looks to make a fresh start after co-founder's firing

Elephant Sanctuary

HOHENWALD, Tenn. — Nestled on a secluded tract in the wooded hills of rural Tennessee is a sight that would likely startle an outsider, if outsiders were permitted to see it: the nation's largest sanctuary for old, sick and rescued elephants.

For 15 years, elephants who had spent lifetimes in zoos and circuses have found a place to retire, rest and roam, far from noisy audiences and free from cramped quarters.

Now, after an unexpected management change and a lawsuit filed by one of the original founders last year, their place of refuge is undergoing changes that may allow the world a better glimpse of their lives.

The Elephant Sanctuary, which has never been open to the public, now wants to be a worldwide educational center for elephant care, while remaining true to its mission to be a refuge for needy elephants.

"The sanctuary is and has always been about far more than just the people who work in it," said Rob Atkinson, the new CEO who arrived in Tennessee late last year. "It's about the elephants."

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Unsinkable Molly B, cow who escaped Montana slaughterhouse in 2006, moves to a new home

Molly B

BILLINGS, Mont. — Five years after a cow dubbed the "Unsinkable Molly B" leapt a slaughterhouse gate and swam across the Missouri River in an escape that drew international attention, the heifer has again eluded fate, surviving the collapse of the animal sanctuary where she was meant to retire.

Molly B was among an estimated 1,200 animals removed from the Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue in recent weeks as part of a massive effort to bail out its overwhelmed owners.

Animal welfare groups said they were forced to euthanize dozens of starving and ill cattle, horses and llamas found on the 400-acre sanctuary in rural Sanders County.

The bovine celebrity herself -- an overweight black Angus breed said to be sore in the hoof but otherwise relatively healthy -- was removed to a nearby ranch and is headed this week to a smaller farm sanctuary.

"Molly B made it OK. She's a tough old broad," said Jerry Finch with Habitat for Horses of Hitchcock, Texas, who participated in the rescue effort. "She had bad feet, but she was not anywhere near as bad as some of the others."

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Your morning adorable: Rescued otter pup drinks from a bottle

Ellie, a young river otter pup who was orphaned or abandoned by her mother, is thriving despite her ordeal, thanks to the efforts of volunteers with the group Dorset Wildlife Rescue in southern England.

According to the group, Ellie will soon begin an extensive rehabilitation program, expected to last about a year, through which she'll learn the skills necessary to survive in the wild. When she's "graduated" from the program, she'll be released.

Ellie joins another young otter orphan named Niamh and a host of other rescued animals in various stages of rehabilitation, ranging from bats to deer to birds of prey, at Dorset Wildlife Rescue. 

Your morning adorable: Hungry Asian small-clawed otters jump for joy, blow our minds
What's better than one keyboard-playing otter? Two keyboard-playing otters, of course

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Dorset Wildlife Rescue via YouTube

South Korean Buddhists pray for animals killed during foot-and-mouth disease epidemic

Buddhist monks attend a memorial service to mourn animals killed and buried due to foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu at a temple in Seoul

SEOUL — Hundreds of South Korean Buddhist monks and believers offered prayers Wednesday for more than 1.93 million cows, pigs and other animals that have been put to death in the country's worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

The Buddhists endured subfreezing temperatures to hold the rite at Jogye Temple, the headquarters of the Jogye Order, South Korea's largest Buddhist sect.

Some monks clad in gray-and-saffron robes offered white chrysanthemums -- a traditional Korean symbol of grief -- and bowed in front of photos of animals inside the temple in central Seoul.

They also bowed toward two big golden statues of Buddha and chanted sutras before circling around a pagoda and burning mortuary tablets and incense.

The animals -- mostly pigs -- have been killed in an attempt to halt the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, which was reported in November, according to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

The highly infectious disease is often fatal for cloven-hoofed animals including cows, sheep, pigs and goats, causing blisters on the mouth and feet.

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