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2023 Year in Review: Amazing Animal Stories

To recap 2023, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some amazing stories from the world of animals.

World’s Oldest Mouse? A Pocket Mouse Named Pat

Pat, the 9-year-old Pacific pocket mouse, at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance conservation breeding center.
A tiny mouse at the San Diego Zoo has set a new world record for the oldest known living mouse. The mouse, named Pat, turned nine years and 209 days old last Wednesday.

Elephant Seals: A Short Sleep in the Deep

Elephant seals sleep about 10 hours a day on the beach, but during months-long foraging trips at sea they average just 2 hours of sleep per day. These 2-month-old northern elephant seals are sleeping on the beach at Año Nuevo State Park. (Photo by Jessica Kendall-Bar, NMFS 23188)
If you’ve ever seen elephant seals lying on a beach, you might think all they do is sleep. But now scientists have discovered that when elephant seals are in the ocean, they hardly sleep at all. On average, the seals sleep just two hours a day.

Scooter Wins World’s Ugliest Dog Contest

Linda Elmquist holds Scooter next to the first prize trophy for the World's Ugliest Dog.
Scooter is a seven-year-old Chinese Crested dog. His body is hairless, but he has a thin mane of spiky white hair on his head. His rear legs face backward, and his tongue hangs out of his mouth constantly. Scooter’s special looks won him the 2023 World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

Birds Use ‘Anti-Bird Spikes’ to Make Nests

The Antwerp magpie nest constructed with anti-bird spikes, seen on the fork of a branch in a sugar maple tree on October 25, 2021.
Scientists in Europe have discovered that magpies and crows are using an unusual material to build their nests – spikes designed to keep birds away from buildings. The birds appear to be removing the spikes from buildings and adding them to their own nests.

Record Number of Baby Seahorses Released

Young seahorses being released from a large, clear plastic bag underwater near a seahorse 'hotel' covered with plant life.
In a world-record effort to help save a rare sea creature, Australian scientists have released hundreds of baby seahorses into the wild. The tiny seahorses are endangered, and the scientists hope the new seahorses will help their numbers grow.

Worms Frozen for 46,000 Years Are Alive

P. kolymaensis, female. Scanning electron picture.
Scientists have brought back to life two tiny worms that had been frozen for 46,000 years. The worms were found in the frozen soil of Siberia. The worms are a new species, and are the oldest living animals ever brought back to life after being frozen.

Rare Spotless Giraffe Born at Zoo

Rare Reticulated giraffe calf with no spots, shown at Brights Zoo with her mother.
Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee is celebrating the birth of a very unusual baby giraffe. What makes this giraffe special is that it doesn’t have any spots. The zoo is asking for help from the public to name the unique animal.

Pandas Leave US National Zoo After Decades

Jan. 13, 2022 | Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Xiao Qi Ji eat sugar cane in their outdoor habitat.
Yesterday, the National Zoo in Washington, DC said goodbye to its giant pandas, as they left for China. It’s the first time the zoo hasn’t had pandas in 23 years, and it may mark the end of a 50-year program. The pandas will be greatly missed by the zoo and its visitors.

Scientists Work to Save Mexico’s Axolotl

The front half of a pinkish axolotl with feathery gills.
Scientists are worried about the future of the axolotl, an unusual Mexican salamander, and they’re asking for help. A new program lets people “adopt” an axolotl to raise money to support efforts to save the endangered animal.

Sleeping for Seconds, Thousands of Times a Day

Chinstrap Penguin with two juveniles
Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica have adapted to harsh conditions by sleeping in a very unusual way. They sleep in short bursts – about four seconds at a time. By doing this thousands of times daily, they get about 11 hours of sleep a day.



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