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Creature Feature

A wattled crane is the National Zoo’s newest addition

On March 20, a wattled crane cracked its egg to become the third of its species to hatch in the National Zoo’s history. Unlike mammals, the crane was ready to make an appearance almost immediately, showing off its downy feathers to visitors in the Crane Run.

Ten percent of dogs in America are homeless

America loves dogs. In a country with more than 300 million people, there are 77-plus million owned dogs. Well over a third of all households in America have a pet dog, with many having two or more.     Sometimes that love goes to extremes, as in Anne Arundel County where Animal Control officers found 51 dogs in a Pasadena home.     The dogs, though numerous, were not abused.

Holy cow! Sunday schoolers raise $1,200 for two milk cows and one impersonator

Cows came to mind when Linda Kovacs and Carole Butler’s fifth grade Sunday School class at Friendship United Methodist Church decided to go beyond prayer to help people in need.

Will this relationship go to the dogs?

You’ve probably heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the assumption that anyone can be linked to the actor through six steps … like my sister worked for a man whose wife is the third cousin of Bacon’s hairdresser.     We can go one better with Six Degrees of GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind.     Who?

DC Cupcakes gives you a sweet reason to Go Bananas

Eleven-year-old Kwame and 9-year-old Kojo celebrated their birthdays with cupcakes. As part of Georgetown Cupcakes’ reality show on TLC, DC Cupcakes, the sister-owned business, delivered a giant gorilla sculpture, comprised of cupcakes, to the National Zoo where the two male western lowland gorillas were celebrating their big days.

Oyster babies abound

Chesapeake Bay oysters were amorous last summer, and the seed they sent forth willy-nilly into the water has set into abundant spat.     Natural Resources researches examining the intimate lives of 53 key oyster bars last fall found spat — or oyster babies — about five times higher than the 25-year median. Instead of 16, spat count per bushel was nearly 80, the overall highest since 1997.

The Chesapeake Bay Rockfish

The striped bass, known around the Tidewater as the rockfish, is one of the most popular of all Eastern, saltwater, game fish. Found along the Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia to Florida, rockfish have a lifespan of up to 30 years and have been know to exceed of 100 pounds. The current Maryland rod-and-reel record is 67 pounds and eight ounces.

If it’s a sunny day, a second winter is on the way

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil saw his/no shadow, answering the question of whether our weather will be wintry. Yes, for about six more weeks. But he begged the real question: Why let a groundhog decide? European folklore tells of sacred animals like bears, badgers and hedgehogs predicting the weather. Arriving in North America in the 19th century, Germans brought this tradition with them, giving the job to the animal that most resembled those back home: the groundhog.

Coyote Call

Fifty feet away, just where open land tumbled into kudzu, a large, shaggy, mottled, gray canine was devouring the carcass of some small animal. Certainly not a fox, which are the size of cats or lapdogs. Nor a wolf. Wolves are not resident in Maryland, according to Harry Spiker, Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ man on big furbearing mammals. Likely it was a coyote. In Fairhaven.

He’s Got His Mother’s Nose

He doesn’t have a name yet, but the National Zoo’s baby giant anteater already has a photo blog and a ghostwriter. Keeper Marie Magnuson has been posting status updates and photos of the long-nosed baby boy since his birth in December. Magnuson had close contact with the baby in the early days, because mother Maripi wasn’t producing enough milk to keep the little guy gaining weight. How do you surrogate nurse an anteater?