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WebClawer: Much ado about a guinea pig in Russia, new pygmy seahorses identified

February 10, 2009 |  2:57 pm

A guinea pig got a little girl into hot water in Russia From a big overreaction over a little guinea pig to tiny seahorses (so small their offspring are the size of a 12-point apostrophe!), there's a lot going on in the animal kingdom today.  Besides Westminster, we mean.

-- When 13-year-old Nastya Ivliyeva wrote Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's website to ask for a new guinea pig, she got a lot more than she bargained for: Local officials, upon learning of the request, went to her school and had her called to the headmaster's  office. Once there, she was reprimanded for wasting the president's time on such a trivial request; she burst into tears. Then the officials condemned her parents for raising a child brazen enough to make the request, and that's not all: Nastya was also forced to write a letter retracting it.  But after complaints from her parents and a writeup in a Russian newspaper, the officials changed their tune and brought the girl two guinea pigs and a new cage.  Youth committee leader Sergei Chyuev called the episode a "complete failure by the authorities to understand real people and their problems."  (Metro U.K.)

-- Two 7-week-old puppies rescued recently from a group of English teenagers and pre-teens who were attempting to roast them over a bonfire are recovering at a U.K. shelter.  "The fur on one of them was singed and the other has a small hernia. Fortunately, they are going to be fine ... To think that children could be so cruel is really disgusting. The puppies are absolutely gorgeous. Everyone here has fallen in love with them," said Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) shelter manager Jean Spencer. The puppies, named Guy and Cinders, will go to new adoptive homes; no arrests have been made.  (Daily Mail)

-- Five new species of pygmy seahorse have been identified in coral reefs in the Red Sea and Indonesia.  All five are less than an inch tall; they're among the smallest known vertebrates in the world.  Among them are the Walea pygmy seahorse, Debelius' pygmy seahorse, Severns' pygmy seahorse, Satomi's pygmy seahorse, and Pontoh's pygmy seahorse.  "There is a lot of local pride surrounding these and other pygmy seahorses in Indonesia, where they were discovered," said Sara Lourie of Montreal's McGill University, who co-authored a December 2008 study on the seahorses.  (National Geographic)

-- No, German townspeople: You weren't dreaming.  Four zebras that escaped from a circus galloped through the southern city of Augsburg before being apprehended by police.  Police spokesman Robert Goeppel said no zebras (or, for that matter, humans) were harmed in the chase and added that the strange chase marked the first time "anything like this has happened here."  (Associated Press)

-- A Buffalo, N.Y., couple have been charged with animal cruelty following the discovery of more than 100 chickens, rabbits, rodents, iguanas and tarantulas in their two-bedroom apartment.  A local SPCA chapter removed the animals and will put some up for adoption, while other animal rescue groups will take some of the animals.  (Newsday)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Los Angeles Times

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