Animals

Alfred de Montesquiou / AP

Police say they captured a big African cat, resembling a cheetah, running loose through the streets of a small Pennsylvania town.

Reports about the spotted feline started coming in on Nov. 3. When Reading officers tracked it down, they initially thought they'd found a cheetah.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County says they got a call from the police department about the feline on Saturday.

For Ornery Shelter Cats, 2nd Chance Is A Job Chasing Mice

Oct 18, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Gary wasn't used to being around people. He didn't like being touched, or even looked at. If anyone came too close, he'd lash out.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Cathy Schlott’s fingers are covered in blood, but she doesn’t seem concerned or put off by it. She’s feeding Anne, a 4-pound adult barred owl, which are common in Pennsylvania.

“She gets lots of treats for this,” said Schlott, curator of animal behavioral management at the aviary, while holding Anne, who’s perched on her arm.

She’s feeding her “meeces pieces,” or chunks of raw meat.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium say a baby elephant's appetite is improving following insertion of a feeding tube to help it gain much-needed weight.

Zoo spokesperson Tracy Gray said the still-unnamed female calf is taking in more food through the tube "and she's also taking more bottles."

On Saturday, the zoo posted on a blog devoted to the elephant that the baby had taken a short walk "and we're beginning to see her feisty personality return."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Zoo officials said Friday that the elephant calf is doing well after surgery and was moving around. She is currently using a feeding tube to get one pint of formula and officials said her GI tract was functioning normally. She is also taking a bottle of milk from Nan, a lactating elephant also at the zoo.

Earlier Version:  

Pittsburgh Zoo officials announced Wednesday that the facility’s baby elephant's health is flagging, and that the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical.

Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

A Pennsylvania wildlife center says a 30-year-old bald eagle that was being treated for lead poisoning has died less than two weeks after two other eagles died of the same cause.

The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown announced the bird's death on Facebook on Sunday.

The bird was captured Aug. 13 after it allowed people to get unusually close. Blood tests confirmed lead poisoning.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania wildlife officials say a bald eagle that is suffering from lead poisoning is in guarded condition.

The bird was letting people get close to it on a wildlife trail near Apollo over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports it was taken to a wildlife center in Saegertown, where blood tests confirmed it had lead poisoning.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Well-trained guide dogs are important for visually impaired people who rely on them. But many puppies bred to be guide dogs flunk out of training programs.

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the way a puppy's mother raises it may be the key to the dog's success, or failure. A research team at the University of Pennsylvania found that puppies destined for guide dog training are more likely to fail if they're coddled by their mothers.

Turning Trash Into Art To Save Urban Wildlife

Jul 27, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Rebecca  Reid knew it was a long shot, but she emailed Portuguese street artist Bordalo II anyway. She’d seen his large murals depicting wildlife on Facebook.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Walk into Pittsburgh's East End location of the Humane Animal Rescue and you'll feel dozens of eyes on you. The shelter is currently overflowing with an influx of stray cats. 

"It's definitely kitty season," Ashley Burk, the shelter's manager of public relations, said. "It just really has to do with the fact that if there are strays on the street, they're not spayed or neutered. It's really easy for cats to get pregnant, have those kittens and then just continue to multiply."

They are an open door facility that does not turn away any animals.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new 177-pound baby African elephant takes a stroll through the grounds.

“She knocks over the trash cans, she knocks over any signs she can find,” said Willie Theison, elephant program manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “She just thinks she’s the baddest little girl.”

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

At the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, inside a tall concrete room, kept warm and humid, is a series of cages filled with the most illegally trafficked animal in the world: the pangolin.

Jelly Dude / Flickr

Veterinarians in the Pittsburgh area said they've seen an increase in dogs testing positive for Lyme disease this year.

Pennsylvania already has the highest rate of human infection in the nation, and experts warned in February that the summer’s tick season could be a bad one, thanks to warmer winter weather. 

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Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took a break from budget negotiations Wednesday to sign a high-profile package of bills into law.

They significantly overhauled the commonwealth’s animal rights legislation, and included a measure that has brought a lot of attention to the issue in the past year: Libre’s Law.

The bill signing saw more fanfare—and barking—than most.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County has thousands of employees, but one of them has a rather unusual title. 

Charles Krupa / AP

Pittsburgh-area law enforcement agencies are equipping K-9 handlers with naloxone as reports of dangerous opioid overdoses continue to sweep the Midwest.

Allegheny County Police Officer Steve Dawkins said dangerous situations are in his 4-year-old partner's job description. 

Guess What Else The Border Wall Keeps Out ...

May 31, 2017
Bureau of Land Management/US Fish and Wildlife Service / AP

President Trump’s proposed 2,000-mile long, 30-foot high border wall would impact more than just a pretty landscape. It could bring an end to the species that live in the lush coastal grasslands, searing hot deserts, and staggering mountain peaks in the path of the wall.

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

Pygmy hippopotamuses, giant anteaters and a zipline are all part of the newest attraction at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Jungle Odyssey.

The exhibit is the second of the zoo’s four-phase “Top of the World” project, with The Islands opening in 2016. Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the zoo, said the latest area will educate visitors about some of the world’s most vulnerable animals.

One Way To Respond To A Warming Planet? Get Smaller

Apr 13, 2017
Kai Schreiber / Flickr

Though the earth is experiencing its first bout of human-induced climate change, the planet has faced massive global warming events in the past. For instance, 56 million years ago, the earth was 46 degrees hotter on average than it is right now. And in response, mammals literally shrank. Imagine an early horse ancestor the size of a cat.

Darlene Harris / Facebook

A Pittsburgh city councilwoman who's running for mayor is defending Facebook pictures of herself riding a circus elephant and a camel, saying she just wanted to "see how they're taken care of."

Democrat Darlene Harris posted a picture of herself atop the Shrine Circus elephant and another riding the camel. The circus was at PPG Paints Arena over the weekend.

Harris, who's running against Mayor Bill Peduto in the primary, rejected critics' claims that circus animals are abused, saying, "Those animals are taken care of better than some people take care of people."

Humane Pennsylvania

The Humane Society says a cat was tied up, doused in gasoline and placed into a plastic trash bag that was nearly crushed in a Pennsylvania garbage truck.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Game of Thrones fans have three new reasons to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new Jungle Odyssey exhibit.

Joining the exhibit are three 4-and-a-half-year-old capybaras – who can weigh 150 pounds and are known as the world’s largest rodent – all named after an interesting slew of Thrones characters, including Lysa, Varys and Melisandre.

Lead mammal keeper Kathy Suthard said she chose the names based on the dynamics she observed between the three animals.

Interest In Small Game Hunting Dwindling Locally

Feb 21, 2017
Torrey Wiley / Flickr

Small game hunting can be a big challenge.

Some small game species have become scarce and so have hunters who like chasing after them.

Results from the California Hill Gun Club's 23 annual "Small Game Hunting Classic" held in mid-January offered a pretty clear reflection of the state of small game hunting in Pennsylvania.

About 150 hunters used to take part in the event in which cash prizes are awarded to teams that returned with the most rabbits and grouse, but this year's classic drew only 73 hunters.

PixController via YouTube

Pittsburgh's pair of bald eagles apparently have a new egg a week after their nest was lost when the tree was toppled by high winds.

After losing the nest Feb. 12, the pair started to build a new nest near the old one in a tree on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania said Monday that without a clear view of the new nest from a webcam, observers have deduced the presence of an egg by the birds' behavior.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Last July, the Pittsburgh Zoo sent five sand tiger sharks to a Florida marine park to mate. When they left, a northern elephant seal named Coolio was brought to Pittsburgh to take their place.

This happens with zoos all the time—they trade and loan animals depending on their population’s needs. The person who oversees and coordinates the movements of animals is Ken Kaemmerer, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s curator of mammals.  

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

To make the move to its new space, the Animal Rescue League paraded dogs, wagons full of cats and even a snake two blocks down Hamilton Avenue in Homewood Monday.  

Chief Executive Officer Dan Rossi said the old, smaller facility was always over capacity.

Ringling Bros. Circus To Close After 146 Years

Jan 14, 2017
AP

After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on "The Greatest Show on Earth." The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May.

The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Otis, a 10-foot-long, 450-pound North American alligator rested his head against the cool exterior of his well-heated indoor pen.

It’s where he vacations each winter when it’s too cold to stay outdoors at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Otis summers in a pond inside Kids Kingdom and moving him to the reptile building just behind the elephant exhibit takes up to 12 people and some serious muscle, once they get him inside his crate.

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