Animals

Jay Price/WUNC

The discipline of military service, as it does for many young men, changed John Blackjack’s life.

"He was a wild child with us," said Roseanne Wray, whose family adopted and raised Staff Sgt. Blackjack.  "The Army did something wonderful for him. They turned him into a soldier."

Blackjack, who died  May 31 of a respiratory illness, was a miniature mule. Since 1983, he had served as the mascot for a major supply unit, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command.  An estimated 25,000 soldiers had contact with him while serving at Ft. Bragg since the Wrays donated him to the Army.

In 2011, employees of the group Mercy for Animals made secret recordings at a Buterball facility in Hoke County, resulting in the animal cruelty conviction of five employees for kicking and beating live birds.
Mercy For Animals

Animal rights activists and journalists would be prohibited from going undercover into private businesses and secretly taking pictures and recordings of illegal activity, under a bill approved by a North Carolina legislative panel on Tuesday.

Hazelnut, newest member of the herd of ponies on Ocracoke, NC. Born born on February 4, 2015 at approximately 10:00 a.m.
National Park Service

Say hello to Hazelnut! She was born mid-morning a couple of days ago into the celebrated Ocracoke pony herd.

Hazelnut's father is a direct descendant of the original Ocracoke ponies. The mother joined the herd in 2010.

The ponies are an important part of the region's history. Legend has it that the “Banker” horses survived being thrown overboard by European ships carrying livestock to the New World in the 16th or 17th century.

Because life isn't all political drama and misdeeds, we bring you a video of the young panda Bao Bao frolicking in the snow at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

David J. Tuss

From horns to claws, teeth and talons, the animal kingdom features many natural weapons.

A picture of cats
Jeffrey W www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/4544016041/ / Flickr

In a letter addressed to euthanasia technicians and registered animal shelters in the state, the N.C. Department of Agriculture says the use of gas chambers for euthanizing cats and dogs is no longer acceptable.

The letter comes from Dr. Patricia Norris, the new director of the Animal Welfare Section at the Department.

"We're basically clarifying the policy for everybody," said Norris.

Patches relaxes at the zoo.
NC Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo's popular polar bear, Patches, died on Sunday.

In recent weeks, Patches had become uninterested in food, and was lethargic, according to Ken Reininger, the zoo’s general curator. Tests revealed the female bear had an extensive lung mass which was likely cancer.

“In the wild the average life span of a polar bear is 15-to-18 years old,” said Dr. David Jones, director of the zoo. “Patches was 26-years-old. She exceeded wildlife expectations by living a long life.”

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has a new resident — an orphaned southern sea otter that was rescued from the California coast north of Monterey.

A red wolf
Joan Lopez via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wildlife officials are looking into what is believed to be the illegal shooting death of a red wolf in eastern North Carolina. 

State and federal officials announced the investigation in a news release Friday.  They say the radio-collared red wolf was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound last month in Tyrrell County.  It's the third red wolf to die this year from a gunshot. 

The first two deaths happened in January and March.  Seven other red wolves have died of other various reasons ranging from natural causes to being hit by cars.

Black Tip sharks feed on the coast near Cape Lookout.
Shark Attack News

A series of videos and photos show masses of sharks on the North Carolina shoreline. Two videos posted online this week show what appear to be blacktip and/or spinner sharks in a feeding frenzy near Cape Lookout.

The sharks are further ashore than usual, feeding in just a few inches of water.

Nancy Fish, with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, said it's a migratory season for fish, which can lead to shark activity closer to shore.

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