This Beagle Is A Walking Polar-Bear-Pregnancy Test
Meet Elvis, a two-year-old beagle with a pretty amazing trick: he's been trained by the Cincinnati Zoo--one of the best zoos in the country--to figure out if polar bears are pregnant, simply by sniffing their poops. It's very difficult to figure out if a bear is pregnant; urine tests don't work well, for example. But Elvis has a near-perfect record! Unfortunately, his sniffs indicate that this year's crop of captive polar bear cubs will be very small--only three, in fact. (Source: NBC San Diego)
If you're visiting a zoo, be sure to go to one that has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning that it has been examined and approved by a group of experts. You can find a list of AZA accredited zoos here. If you want to learn more about the issues associated with keeping animals in captivity, the Born Free Foundation (or Born Free USA) has a wealth of information, and lots of ways to get involved. You can also donate to the organization here.