10:00 PM, November 26, 2008

Swan_lake

Cue the Tchaikovsky: A baby swan, foreground, and adults troll for food along the waterfront this week in Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

These swans bring to mind "Petra," a black swan in Germany who garnered international attention in 2006 when she apparently developed a fondness for a boat shaped like an oversized white swan. She refused to leave its side.

Last winter, she left the boat behind upon meeting a live white swan, and started to build a nest with her new beau at a zoo. The boat sailed back to its solitary status. But trouble arose in Petra's paradise. The male swan eventually abandoned her, causing Petra to incessantly swim around in an agitated state. Zoo officials reunited her with her boat in late March.

Petra_gets_on_the_love_boat_3

Top photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP/Getty Images

Bottom photo: Martin Meissner/AP

Read more In Switzerland, a real swan lake »

1:29 PM, November 21, 2008

Santas_helpers

Agile, yes, but can they pull a sleigh?

A scuba Santa adds a pre-Christmas touch to a feeding session for moray eels and rays at Sunshine International Aquarium in Tokyo.

Photo: Junji Kurokawa / Associated Press

8:30 PM, November 17, 2008

No_red_nose

No, it's not another one of those pre-Thanksgiving Christmas displays. This reindeer lies in a field near Torvinen in Finland's Lapland.

For photographs of more domesticated species, check out Your Scene and its vast collection of cats (some in sinks) and dogs (some in costume).

Photo: Oliver Morin / AFP/Getty Images

3:16 PM, November 17, 2008

Dont_try_this_at_home

In Garoua, Cameroon, Liman Boucar Souaibou asks Africa the hippopotamus to get out of the water. For 16 years, Liman has worked to coax Africa, who weighs about 4 tons, into being friendly with children and tourists.

But Africa is a rare hippo, and L.A. Unleashed does not recommend this kind of contact. As the San Diego Zoo's website notes, "Despite the hippos' cute appearance, they are among the most dangerous and aggressive of all mammals."

Photo: Issouf Sanogo / AFP/Getty Images

10:16 AM, November 13, 2008

Nautilus

A nautilus is among the stars of Underwater World Singapore's "The Masters of Disguise," a new attraction that showcases intelligent marine life found in the deep seas. The oceanarium has gathered creatures that are able to change shape or color to mimic predators or match their surroundings.

For other compelling photos, animal or otherwise, check out the Photography page.

But if you want more on the nautilus, follow this link to the website of the National Aquarium. As the aquarium aptly observes on its website, "A nautilus, like an octopus, is a very curious creature."

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: Wong Maye-E / Associated Press

5:04 PM, November 5, 2008

Bark for Barack

A reader sent this photo of two dogs, and we're guessing they are feeling pretty good about themselves today. 

Pets certainly have gotten political this election season -- and it's evident from the photos you submitted and the outfits they wore (ranging from "Barack for President" to "McCanine" to "Pitbulls Against Palin").

If you have a civic-minded animal friend, we'd love to see it.  Submit your photo (.jpg format) to our reader photo site, Your Scene. 

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: "We Bark for Barack," submitted by b3rt

7:15 PM, November 3, 2008

A_leap

A dolphin leaps out of the Atlantic Ocean near Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. Dolphins and whales are a common sight along the cape's Atlantic coastline this time of year.

This shot comes to us courtesy of the Day in Photos. (No more animals today, but still great images.) Check out our Photography page for other photo galleries.

Photo: Nic Botha / EPA

3:23 PM, October 30, 2008

We haven't forgotten the pleas of L.A. Animal Services to not dress your pets in Halloween costumes!

We understand it's not a good practice, we really do.

But we cannot resist sharing a few images sent to us by L.A. Times readers at Your Scene. Feel free to make up your own commentary.

Hbeagle
Hbunny
Hdachs

See more photos (or share your own) in Your Scene's Halloween Pets album.

Photos (top to bottom): "Abbey" submitted by Abbey, "Lola and Ron" submitted by Hi, and "Lola the Pumpkin" submitted by lola.

2:12 PM, October 26, 2008

To_be_a_fly_on_the_wall

The photo caption possibilities here seem endless. But in truth, what we have here are Orpington chickens picking corn under the surveillance of African elephants at the zoo in Duisburg in western Germany. The hens and a rooster of the breed, normally used for the production of meat and eggs, recently moved into their new home behind the elephant's enclosure.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Volker Hartmann / AFP/Getty Images

2:22 PM, October 25, 2008

Peccary_with_pupkinjamie_pham

In less then one week last month, four Chacoan peccaries were born at the Los Angeles Zoo. Friday morning, the troop made its debut to zoo visitors.

The Chacoan peccary, a species similar to a pig, is endangered. The zoo's new litter was born on two days: the first on Thursday, September 11 and a litter of three followed suit five days later on Tuesday, September 16.

Native to Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay, the Chacoan peccary was thought to be extinct until 1972, when Dr. Ralph M. Wetzel of the University of Connecticut, found the species still existed in Paraguay, zoo officials said.

The greatest threats to the Chacoan peccary are brush clearing for cattle and hunting. There are 47 animals in a captive managed program, with only 11 zoos in the U.S. currently exhibiting Chacoan peccaries, according to Los Angeles Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs.

Click below to see the rest of the L.A. Zoo's expanded Chacoan family.

Read more Party of five at the Los Angeles Zoo' Chacoan peccary table »

3:06 PM, October 23, 2008

Tigers_are_so_photogenic_when_not_a

Three 11-week-old Siberian tiger cubs--Sayan, Altai, and Altay--are seen with their mother, Nika, at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Bekesbourne, England. The cubs are named after mountain ranges in Siberia.

Photo: Gareth Fuller/Associated Press

12:01 PM, October 23, 2008

Teaching_a_dog_new_tricks_3   

4-H member Kirsten Lansgaard teaches a workshop on dog showmanship as part of the University of California's 4-H Pet Symposium, which took place earlier this month in East Los Angeles.

Children from throughout Los Angeles County participated in workshops and activities geared toward promoting responsible pet care as part of the University of California Cooperative Extension. The programs are available for youth ages 5 to 19.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: University of California Cooperative Extension

1:18 PM, October 15, 2008

You_would__smile_too

Baby orangutans Mariam, Ayu and Jarot -- yes, there are three -- cling to their keeper Ayub Damianto at an orangutan rehabilitation center in Sibolangit, in Indonesia's North Sumatra province. Orangutans in the wild are on the brink of extinction due to poaching, the pet trade and habitat loss.

Photo: Binsar Bakkara/Associated Press

12:36 PM, October 14, 2008

Panda_double_trouble

One-month-old twin panda cubs are held by zoo keepers during their first appearance before the public at Adventure World in Shirahama in central Japan over the weekend. The cubs -- one female and one male -- were born Sept. 13. It's unclear why the female, on the left, appears to be having a bad hair day.

Photo: Kyodo News / Associated Press

10:43 AM, October 12, 2008

These_twins_look_cuter_with_fur_tha

Seven-week-old cheetah male cubs Mtoto (on the left) and Ushindi were born in early August at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Taronga Zoo

1:56 PM, October 9, 2008

Not_the_morning_but_cockadoodledo

Escaping the stifling heat in his nearby apartment, Luis Gonzalez, 30, rests in the shade of Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights on his day off, along with his pet rooster, Pica.

Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times

3:52 PM, October 1, 2008
What_a_lovely_cake

There are probably plenty of captions that could be written about this photo today, which we invite L.A. Unleashed readers to post, but, first of all, who knew Komodo dragons were fans of SpongeBob SquarePants?

Krakatoa, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park's Komodo dragon, celebrated his eighth birthday with 8-year-olds from R.B. Hunt Elementary School today. The children sang "Happy Birthday" to the lizard as he was presented with a meat cake topped with mice.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Daron Dean / The St. Augustine Record

1:35 PM, September 26, 2008

Koala_and_her_baby

A baby koala clings to its mother's back in the koala enclosure at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Photo credit: Dave Hunt / European Pressphoto Agency

7:44 PM, September 24, 2008

It's National Dog Week ...and some Angelenos, apparently, know how to celebrate:

National_dog_week_i

Here, a canine named Levi arrives at the Grove to help kick off the national “Eat with Your Paws for a Good Cause” charity program to benefit Much Love Animal Rescue.
National_dog_week_ii
DeAnna Pappas, who was a star on "The Bachelorette," above left, and Jesse Csincsak, above right, appear with rescue dog Freedom and sample finger foods at the National Dog Week event.
National_dog_week_iii
More dogs (and their people) turned out for the charity event at the Grove.
Photos: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

3:32 PM, September 23, 2008

42523962

Miss Porky Pig will probably lose points for being a little off vertical as she enters the water Tuesday at the Royal Melbourne Show in Australia. Diving and racing pigs are among the most popular attractions at the annual fair. Recalling the recent Beijing Olympics, what we'd really like to see is synchronized pig diving.

Photo: William West /AFP Getty Images

3:31 PM, September 20, 2008

Dog Bites Couch

No doubt many of you know the "aren't-you-proud-of-me-Mom?" grin on this guy's face all too well.  It's rather the same look that my childhood pet, Crackers the cat, wore when he deposited a giant and very dead pheasant on the doorstep, causing years of lasting trauma (to me, not Crackers, who for his part did not seem traumatized at all). 

R.I.P. pheasant -- and R.I.P. chaise lounge.

This photo comes to our reader photo section, Your Scene, courtesy of submitter Raygunz.  See more examples of man's best frenemy (and some pretty bad cats as well) in the Your Scene album Pets Behaving Badly (or even submit your own).

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: "Eat the couch!" by Raygunz / Your Scene

4:27 PM, September 19, 2008

Sloths_like_to_be_given_a_hand

Sloth baby "Oskar" poses on the hand of its keeper at the zoo of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The 45-day-old baby's diet consists of a mash of vegetables mixed with fennel tea and bottle-feeding because its mother cannot deliver enough milk.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Boris Roessler/EPA

12:57 PM, September 18, 2008

Thursday: Day in photos - India

Two dwarf tortoises are held by members of an environmental group in Guwahati, India. The environmentalists said they had rescued the tortoises and would release them into a pond.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Biju Boro / AFP / Getty Images

3:52 PM, September 10, 2008

Iguana and cat in love!

Just when you think there's no hope left for us all just getting along, up pops a photo (or two) like these.

"Two rescues from the streets of Brooklyn become best friends," explains their owner, Rina Deych (who submitted these photos to our reader photo section, Your Scene). That's Sobe with the scales, Johann with the fur.

Cat goes in for the hug

See more great photos of interspecies friendship in Your Scene's Four-Legged Friends album.  (Or even submit your own.)  Many thanks, Rina, for showing that the cold-blooded and warm-blooded can mix.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photos: "Sobe and Johann" and "Johann hugs Sobe" submitted to Your Scene by Rina Deych

1:10 PM, September 9, 2008

Green_polar_bear_2

When officials at the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in central Japan decided to go green and conserve water by changing the polar bears' pond water less often, they probably didn't have this in mind. The bears turned green in July after the pool developed an overgrowth of algae, which is very difficult to rinse out of the bears' fur. They are expected to return to their ordinary yellow-tinged white after the algae growth subsides in November.

Photo credit: Associated Press

7:44 PM, September 8, 2008

Fish_owl

A juvenile Malay fish owl, a protected species, is displayed Monday at a nursery in Singapore. According to the World Owl Trust -- "leading the world in owl conservation" -- the Malay fish owl is found in parts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Malay Peninsula and a variety of islands, including Borneo and Java.

The trust's website says the bird has two types of calls -- a loud rattling "kutook, kutook" and a ringing "pof pof pof." This is not to be confused, of course, with the Ethiopian eagle owl which makes a "deep, explosive 'double noted hoot,' first note much louder than the second."

Photo: How Hwee Young / EPA

10:14 AM, September 8, 2008

surfing dog slides

While there's no "Baywatch: Canine Edition" in the works yet, there is a photo gallery of this weekend's Dog Surf-A-Thon at North Beach in Del Mar.  Money raised by the event, now its in third year, will be used to help raise awareness of orphaned pets.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Karen Tapia-Andersen/Los Angeles Times

1:59 PM, September 5, 2008

Tiger_love

Jaya, a Sumatran tiger cub, licks its handler while on show in Brisbane, Australia, today. Two endangered 12-month-old Sumatran tigers from Dreamworld mesmerized crowds ahead of National Threatened Species Day on Sunday.

It's been quite a season for tiger newborns at zoos. In August, an Amur tiger cub , below, at the Pittsburg Zoo struck an appropriately laid-back pose for summer.

The_tiger_version_of_homer_simpson

Photos: Top, Sumatran tiger. Credi: Dave Hunt / EPA; Bottom, Amur tiger. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

12:17 PM, August 28, 2008

Giraffe_makes_its_debut

Zookeeper Frauke Rauls feeds a 3-week-old female Rothschild giraffe Wednesday during the giraffe's first public appearance at the zoo in Hanover, Germany.

It's been quite a year for baby giraffes -- or at least quite a year for photographers taking pictures of these leggy newborns. In February a photographer captured the debut of another giraffe born in Hanover. Baby giraffes also took bows, if that's the right phrase, at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert and, just this week, at the San Diego Zoo. Click away for a gallery of giraffes.

Photo: Holger Hollemann / EPA

6:06 PM, August 26, 2008

Langur_love

A one-week-old Javan langur is looked at by its father, Orange, at the Budapest Zoo Park and Botanic Garden in the Hungarian capital on Tuesday. The cub's mother came from the Netherlands.
Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

4:26 PM, August 24, 2008

No_wonder_chihuahuas_are_so_popular

In The Times recently, L.A. Unleashed's Steve Padilla and staff photographer Mel Melcon captured what gives Hermosa Beach its name as part of the summer Street Scenes series -- including this shot of Joe Martinez and his 2-year-old Chihuahua/Doberman mix, Killer, hanging out on the Strand.

Online readers can also ride the beach's audio-visual waves.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

11:29 AM, August 22, 2008

A_basket_full_of_cuteness

Seal pup Eddy peeks out of a basket, at the Norddeich port in northern Germany on Wednesday, before being transported to the sands of the island of Juist.

Eddy was raised in a station for abandoned seals in Norddeich and will be released into the North Sea.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Focke Strangmann/Associated Press

1:50 PM, August 20, 2008

Can_we_get_a_head_shot

Blue whales, which can grow to more than 90 feet, have temporarily moved into the San Pedro Channel, creating great whale-watching opportunities off Long Beach. The Times' Outposts Blog by Pete Thomas has the details.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times

1:19 PM, August 20, 2008

Dressed_in_white

Rick Cleveland pulls a male albino American alligator from its transport box at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. He drove it and another alligator from a Florida zoo to their new home at the museum's Steinhart Aquarium, which reopens Sept. 27.

Albinism occurs in a variety of animal species and is caused by gene mutations that affect the production of pigmentation.

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

2:17 PM, August 19, 2008

Your Scene

Tedd Wenrick of Santa Monica took this unexpected close-up in early July while driving through Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The photo is featured this week in Travel. 

Here's the story behind Wenrick's shot: Wenrick's friend, Jeanne Shoemaker, was driving when the donkey walked right up to the car and stuck in its head. Though known for having one of the largest buffalo herds in the U.S., Custer State Park is also home to a variety of other wildlife, especially wild donkeys. Wenrick used a Canon EOS 30D.

For more Travel photos of the week, visit Your Scene.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Your Scene / Los Angeles Times

3:22 PM, August 16, 2008

Talk_about_a_cool_dog

This dog, spotted Wednesday afternoon in a parking lot in Westlake Village, appears well equipped for summer fun.

Photo: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times

8:24 AM, August 16, 2008

Squirrels_might_not_like_that_feeli

No, this wildlife expert isn't trying to drown the squirrel. In fact, quite the opposite. This ground squirrel was flooded out of its hole this week at the airport of Per, an area west of Budapest, Hungary, in an effort to save it.

Environmental protection experts resettled some 50 ground squirrels to a nearby national park because the number of squirrels increased too much in the airfield, officials said.

It's an international problem apparently, as evidenced by Santa Monica's repeated efforts -- birth control included -- to rid the city of the rampant ground squirrel population in Palisades Park.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Karoly Guoeri / EPA

2:39 PM, August 15, 2008

A_ten_hut

Believe it or not, the Norwegian King's Guard has a penguin for a mascot and honorary colonel-in-chief. Fittingly, it's a king penguin. He resides at the Edinburgh Zoo and is named Nils Olav.

The bird was knighted Friday and is the third incarnation in a dynasty of penguin mascots with the same name (kind of like Norway's Shamu). He goes by "Sir" Nils Olav now.

Photo credit: David Cheskin-pa / Associated Press

3:41 PM, August 12, 2008

Turtle_in_englan

A endangered Chinese box turtle that recently hatched at Bristol Zoo gets its close-up today with the help of a zoo curator in Bristol, England.

The turtle currently weighs just 15 grams (slightly more than half an ounce), whereas an adult box turtle weighs about 800 grams (around 1.7 pounds). The turtles can reach lengths of about 6 inches and live up to 50 years.

Chinese box turtles are hunted for their meat for use in medicine or as pets and have been listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species .

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Matt Cardy / Getty Images

11:57 AM, August 11, 2008

Humming_along

Hummingbirds visit a feeder on Saturday at the Kern River Preserve in Weldon, Calif. The 10th annual Kern River Valley Hummingbird Celebration draws hummingbirds in great numbers. The Kern River Valley is the "Hummingbird Viewing Capital of California," according to the event's website. (If you visit the site, watch what happens when you move your cursor around.)

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

9:59 AM, August 8, 2008

The_tiger_version_of_homer_simpson

A three-month-old Amur tiger cub lounges in a chair at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The cub, photographed Tuesday, was born on Mother's Day. Amur tigers, more commonly known as Siberian tigers, are a critically endangered species because of habitat destruction and illegal fur trade, zoo officials said.

This little cub is being hand-raised because his mother, Toma, did not bond with him. It's hard to imagine looking at him now, but he probably will grow to be about 11 feet long and weigh more than 450 pounds. 

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

11:15 AM, August 7, 2008

Dogs_in_heat

With the temperature hovering around 100 degrees, two dogs discover a water sprinkler Tuesday in a neighborhood park in El Dorado, Arkansas.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Larry Singer/The El Dorado News-Times

3:22 PM, July 30, 2008

Vulture

A king vulture looks crossed-eyed at the camera at the Berlin Zoo. King vultures, brightly colored scavengers known (not surprisingly) for their piercing eyes, are mainly found in Central and South America. That impressive yellow mass of flesh crowning this one's beak is called a caruncle.

Photo: Franka Bruns/Associated Press

10:46 AM, July 25, 2008

A_dog_feeds_two_siberian_tiger_cubs

A dog feeds two Siberian tiger cubs and her own puppy at a zoo in Hefei, China. The mother of the cubs was not able to feed them after giving birth, China Daily reported.

Photo: Reuters/China Daily

11:47 AM, July 22, 2008

Elephants_in_anaheim

Elephants march through Anaheim on their way to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus yesterday. (Of course, not everyone loves the circus. Not surprisingly, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggests we boycott, as previously reported on L.A. Unleashed.)

Photo: Karen Tapia-Andersen/Los Angeles Times

8:05 PM, July 21, 2008

This supremely confident cat is not alone in its love for sinks. A look at Your Scene, where readers submit photos and videos to The Times, reveals a whole bunch of cats relaxing in and around bathroom basins. This photo was submitted to Your Scene by "Dos Dias" this month. If you want more, there's a surprisingly addictive website, catsinsinks.com, with hundreds and hundreds of cats. And, of course, sinks.

2:22 PM, July 17, 2008

Long_beach_whale

A migrating blue whale surfaces off the coast of Long Beach near an oil rig. The animals, the largest on the planet at up to 100 feet long, have been passing unusually close to shore to feed on tons of krill. From the front page of today's Times.

Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

12:07 PM, July 17, 2008

Roccothejaguar

The Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond just released this photo of Rocco, a male Jaguar cub born June 8 and named after golfer Rocco Mediate. Rocco, the jaguar, will make his public debut at the Fabulous Feline Follies event on Aug. 16, the center's officials said.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Nancy Vandermey/Feline Conservation Center

7:36 AM, July 17, 2008

A_polar_bear_shares_a_good_morning_

World famous polar bear Knut sticks out his tongue as he sits in his enclosure at the zoo in Berlin earlier this month. The bear, born in the zoo on Dec. 5, 2006, caused a global sensation when he survived rejection by his mother. He has attracted more than 2 million visitors and has been made a mascot for environmental care. Knut has also been a source of controversy, as an Associated Press story on the next page shows.

Photo: Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images

Read more Good morning »

11:31 AM, July 16, 2008

Eyes_can_see_you

A seal, 3 days old, takes in its surroundings at the zoo in the western German town of Duisburg today. The baby, already weighing about 13 pounds, is named Emmy.

Speaking of cute baby animals at German zoos, check out the white lion cubs that made their debut this week in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Sascha Schuermann / AFP / Getty Images

3:41 PM, July 14, 2008

Lion cub

Rare white lion cubs meet the press at Safaripark in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock in western Germany. Seven white cubs were born at the park to two mothers on June 30. While three of the cubs are being raised by their mother, Kibo, the others were refused by their mother, Mawensi. One of them died overnight Monday; the remaining three will be raised by the park's animal keepers.

Photo: Martin Meissner/Associated Press

10:45 AM, July 10, 2008

Duckie_from_the_block

New Yorkers are true walkers and these mallard ducks are no exception. Mother and chick join other strollers on a paved pathway at the Bronx Zoo.

Photo: Kathy Willens/Associated Press

9:49 AM, July 3, 2008

This squirrel snapshot, submitted in May by Opto on Your Scene, is labeled "A Holiday -- Just hanging out on Mem Day weekend." We wonder if this squirrel has similar plans for what promises to be a warm Fourth of July. It clearly has an eye for nice patio furniture.

Check out Your Scene to see more squirrels, rabbits, cats, dogs and all sorts of critters. Or send us your own photos.

11:42 AM, July 1, 2008

Dog_running

A dog runs in Spokane, Wash.

Photo: Brian Plonka/AP

12:42 PM, June 30, 2008

Mama_swan_taxi_service

Photo courtesy of Liminal Effects.

2:32 PM, June 26, 2008

I_wonder_if_this_bear_would_like_wo

A Himalayan black bear named Dyno cools off from the heat today in the Sofia (Bulgaria) city zoo.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Valentina Petrova/Associated Press

7:49 AM, June 26, 2008

Another_nip_and_tuck_in_hollywood

You won't be able to check into this "Hotel for Dogs" until next year, but Hollywood veteran photographer David Strick gives us an exclusive sneak preview in the latest installment of his "Hollywood Backlot" series.

Based on Lois Duncan's novel, "Hotel for Dogs stars Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon and Don Cheadle, and is directed by Thor Freudenthal.

The comedy's plot: When their new guardians forbid 16-year-old Andi (played by Roberts) and her younger brother Bruce (played by Austin) to have a pet, Andi has to help find a new home for their dog, Friday. So the kids stumble upon an abandoned hotel and transform it into a haven for Friday and his friends, although some neighbors aren't happy with the situation.

The movie is scheduled to open in January.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: David Strick


11:43 AM, June 25, 2008

Pigs_in_germany

One enterprising butcher in southern Germany has found a unique way to draw attention not only to Euro 2008 but to his shop by installing a display of soccer-playing pigs outside the store.

The life-sized swine are made of plastic, so movement on and off the ball is understandably slow, but the pigs have produced a smile or two from passersby, even from those who do not follow the world's game.

Germany plays Turkey today in the tournament semifinals in Basel, Switzerland. On Thursday, Spain plays Russia in the other semifinal in Vienna.

--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Felix Kaestle/Associated Press

3:08 PM, June 24, 2008

Dog_and_owner_bare_brunt_of_flood

Surrounded by flood waters near her home in South Shore, Mo., Alexae Dunn pets her dog Lady. Levees held as the Mississippi River crested in some areas and gradually continued to rise in others. The Army Corps of Engineers said water levels were largely stable.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

11:48 AM, June 24, 2008

Ozzy_ziggy

Does this image capture (a) some lazy spooning, (b) a feline massage session, or (c) a sinister strangulation attempt? Try your hand at a caption for the photo. Thanks to Dan for posting this photo of Ozzy and Ziggy at Your Scene.

2:29 PM, June 20, 2008

Vaccinated_leopard

Indeever, a snow leopard cub at the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland, gets his first vaccinations today. Indeever was born April 27.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Martin Reutsch/Associated Press

4:42 PM, June 18, 2008

Canela_likes_ice_cream

"We were walking by a parking lot across the street from East L.A. Civic Center when we saw a dog named Canela cooling off with a taste of her owner's ice cream," writes Lorena Villegas, who sends us this photo she took Monday. Have any stunning or unique pet photos? You can send them to unleashed@latimes.com, or better yet, share them at Your Scene. Canela, incidentally, means cinnamon in Spanish, though it looks like this Canela was enjoying plain vanilla.

5:16 PM, June 12, 2008

Killer_whale_breaching

A report of a group of orcas, or killer whales, just four miles offshore from Dana Point prompted Dave and Gisele Anderson of Capt. Dave's Dolphin Safari to jump in their tour boat Wednesday afternoon and snap this picture of one of the five orcas they spotted breaching. The husband-and-wife tour operators say that it is rare for the creatures to come close to shore in this region and that it was the first time they've spotted one in more than three years.

"It was incredible. They were so animated and gregarious, going from boat to boat," Gisele Anderson said. Most people don't know that so-called killer whales are members of the dolphin family, despite what their name suggests, she explains. "They are called killer whales because they are whale killers, not because they're whales."

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Courtesy of Dave Anderson

2:45 PM, June 11, 2008

Beef_protests_in_korea_candlelight_

About 80,000 people demonstrated in Seoul against U.S. beef imports, with candlelight vigils lasting into the early hours today. President Lee Myung-bak was expected to accept Cabinet resignations over the issue.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Dong-A Ilbo/Associated Press

5:15 PM, June 6, 2008

Just in time for the weekend, photos of some baby animals (and, in some cases, their parents) have been assembled into a gallery. Here's a preview:

Black_bear_cubs_at_a_zoological_par

These black bear cubs are playing in a zoological park in India....

Trumpeter_swan_and_child_at_the_lin

...while a male trumpeter swan tends to his newly hatched offspring at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Bear photo: EPA

Swan photo: Greg Neise/AFP/Getty Images

1:49 PM, June 5, 2008

Gorilla_with_carrots

Kelly, a silverback gorilla, goes for the carrots today as he and the rest of the gorillas at the Los Angeles Zoo are served a vegetarian (or perhaps herbivore) feast made by top chefs from 10 popular L.A. restaurants. The meal was to promote the zoo's annual Beastly Ball fund-raiser on June 14. Guests who pay the $1,000 ticket price can stroll the grounds after hours to view the animals.

Check out a photo gallery of the gorillas by Times photographer Bob Chamberlin.

Photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

3:02 PM, June 2, 2008

Pandas_china

Eight pandas chow down on bamboo at the Beijing Zoo after a long journey from their damaged reserve near the epicenter of last month's earthquake in central China. The pandas will spend the next six months at the zoo for a visit that was planned before the quake.

Photo: Associated Press

10:39 AM, May 29, 2008

We've tried to avoid Gawker. Really. But now we must urge readers of L.A. Unleashed to read a little essay titled "Please Stop Talking About Puppies" by Hamilton Nolan:

It's one thing to spend your time commenting on a site that has witty, engaging repartee, like this one. But some other places are inexplicable. Like one that came to my attention today: DailyPuppy.com. It exists to post puppy pictures. Okay, fine, I have nothing negative to say about that, dog Nazis. But do said puppy pictures require 90 comments just today, which all sound like this actual example: "Oh baby you are such a cutie-pie. A zillion biscuits and cuddles Ooltie_the_puppy_3 poppet and have a wonderful life. xxxxxxxxxxx." GOD. It really challenges your ability to even continue liking puppies.

Here's what we have to say to that, Mr. Nolan: Meet Ooltie, left, whose owner sent his photo to Your Scene at Latimes.com.

-- Alice Short

1:24 PM, May 28, 2008
What_a_cute_baby
A zoo keeper holds a 24-day-old leopard cub at the Nandankanan zoological park on the outskirts of Bhubneshwar, India. The abandoned cub was found by two villagers in the Baghnadi reserve forest of Phulbani when it was about 20 days old.
--Francisco Vara-Orta
Photo: EPA

9:47 AM, May 23, 2008

Bet_they_had_a_great_mothers_day

A newborn dolphin swims with his mother, Finagain, on Thursday at the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk in the Netherlands. The baby dolphin can be seen by the public, who will later name him in a contest, officials said.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Ida Smit/AFP/Getty Images

4:01 PM, May 22, 2008

Goslings_take_cover_under_their_mo

Goslings take shelter under their mother's wing at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Alberta.

According to Cornell University, the Canada goose is the most familiar and widespread goose in North America. It can be found in all kinds of water all across the continent, from the tundra to the Gulf Coast.

At least 11 subspecies of Canada goose have been recognized, Cornell experts say, although only a couple are distinctive. In general, the geese get smaller as you move northward, and darker as you go westward.

Photo: Jason Franscon / The Canadian Press, Edmonton Sun

3:56 PM, May 19, 2008

Gerbil_pups

Photo by Sandy, submitted at Your Scene. The American Gerbil Society website has all sorts of gerbil trivia and tips on gerbil care.

6:55 PM, May 14, 2008

Storks_k0eb6onc_2

Two stork chicks, only a few days old, await feeding at Westkuestenpark Zoo in St. Peter-Ording, Germany, on a recent May day. The two were thrown out of the nest by their mother and are now being brought up by zookeepers.

To find out what the stork delivers to the animal kingdom, the San Diego Zoo can give you the 411 on storks and their own babies.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Carsten Rehder/EPA

6:37 PM, May 13, 2008

Panther_3 A black jaguar cub, yet to be named, plays with zoo employee Martin Gallardo at the Huachipa Zoo in Lima, Peru. The cub, born two months ago, is the third black jaguar born in captivity in Peru.

Photo: Martin Mejia / Associated Press

5:21 PM, May 12, 2008

Ostrich_2

We have a feeling this ostrich, photographed Saturday at a small zoo in Mexico City, would not be a fan of the L.A. paparazzi scene.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP/Getty Images

6:30 PM, May 6, 2008

Jumping_for_joy_3

Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) reacts upon seeing her jumping frog, Sir Hoppington, for the first time.

State lawmakers participated in the annual legislative frog-jumping competition today on the east lawn of the Capitol. The competition among legislators is designed to promote the upcoming frog-jumping competition in Calaveras County this year.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

4:05 PM, May 5, 2008

Cinco_de_mayo_2

A dog dressed in traditional Mexican clothing shows some spirit during a Cinco de Mayo celebration today in Mexico City.

Photo: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

1:20 PM, May 2, 2008

Greyhound

A greyhound in southern Germany demonstrates how to enjoy a nice meadow.

Photo: Armin Weigel/EPA

6:08 PM, April 29, 2008

Turtle_cat

Photo submitted by Marek at Your Scene, where readers can share photos and videos of their animals.

4:06 PM, April 28, 2008

Adopt

Sean Lenahan, 27, left, and Alexsandra Lukyanets, 22, introduce their Papillion, Sophie, to a kitten they hoped to adopt Sunday at the annual Best Friends Animal Society's Spring Super Adoption Festival at North Hollywood Park. More than 300 animals were matched up with new owners, according to a spokeswoman for Best Friends. Thousands of people showed up to check out the homeless dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and rabbits from more than 60 rescue groups and shelters.

Photo: Annie Wells /Los Angeles Times

8:00 AM, April 27, 2008

Penguins

Penguins take a dip near Cape Town, South Africa. Submitted by Miriam Mannak at Your Scene.

5:59 PM, April 24, 2008

Mopdog

That's no mop. It's a Hungarian puli sheepdog named Fee with her owner, Eva Meyer, during a preview for a pedigree dog show today in Dortmund, Germany.

Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

10:36 AM, April 22, 2008

Hello_is_it_me_you_are_looking_fo_2

Silver, a male Masai giraffe at the San Diego Zoo, is taken Monday to a new habitat at the zoo's Elephant Mesa. Silver and five other giraffes were out of public view for several months as their new area was prepared. Their old exhibit will be destroyed to make way for a new 7-acre multi-species habitat, Elephant Odyssey, that will include elephants, jaguars, lions, tree sloths, tapirs, pronghorns, California condors and more.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

12:15 PM, April 21, 2008

Happy_tails

By Michael, and submitted to Your Scene, where readers can share photos and video of their pets.

5:02 PM, April 18, 2008

Leaping_lemur

Oh, to be young and agile. A young ring-tailed lemur jumps in its enclosure at Rapperswil Zoo, in Rapperswil, Switzerland, on Friday.

Photo: Eddy Risch/AP

2:03 PM, April 17, 2008

A_cool_drink_on_a_hot_day

A hummingbird sips nectar at the Fullerton Arboretum at Cal State Fullerton, where more than 75 exhibitors will offer plants, lectures and tips at the Green Scene Plant and Garden Show this weekend.

Photo: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

10:12 AM, April 17, 2008

Who_has_the_better_tan

Julian Smith, 27, of El Monte relaxes in the sun with his 6-year-old pit bull, Pup, at Santa Monica State Beach, where the high was 61 on Wednesday. A warming trend is expected today.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

12:31 PM, April 16, 2008

Is_this_chimp_relaxing_after_an_exh

A chimpanzee rests in the shade at the Ramat Gan Safari Park outside Tel Aviv, Israel, this week.

Photo: Ariel Schalit / Associated Press

10:46 AM, April 15, 2008

Hopefully_the_food_is_not_hard_to_s

A pair of cliff swallows bring food to hatchlings that are hidden in the mud nest beneath a bridge on North River Road in Oceanside.

Best known for their storied return to Mission San Juan Capistrano each spring, the birds migrate north from South America.

This colony is above a drainage canal, providing the mud for nest building and plenty of insects for food.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times

2:36 PM, April 14, 2008

Boat_dog

A dog took to the bow while boaters toured the harbor in Newport Beach Sunday as thousands sought relief from the heat at Southern California beaches. Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

1:54 PM, April 11, 2008

Balu_shakes_it_off_2

A Labrador retriever named Balu shakes the water from his coat after taking a dip in a pond in Berlin on earlier this week.

Photo: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images)

4:43 PM, April 10, 2008

Giraffe_with_mother_2

A baby giraffe with its mother at a zoo in Hanover, northern Germany, this week. It was born Feb. 16 and is already more than feet tall.

Photo: Kai-Uwe Knoth/AP

2:52 PM, April 9, 2008

Panthers_can_be_cute_babies

A baby panther makes his debut at the Miskolc Zoo and Cultural Park, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday. The yet-to-be named male black cub, pictured here with his keeper, was born on March 14. His mother has a solid black coat, but his father's is spotted.

Photo: Janos Vajda/EPA

2:00 PM, April 8, 2008

Polar_bear_cub_flocke

Four-month-old polar bear cub Flocke (German for snowflake) tests the waters. She was introduced to the public today at a zoo in Nuremberg, southern Germany.

Photo: Oliver Lang/AFP/Getty Images