Zoo stories abound in the news 

Zoo animals have played a big role in the news this week, from the peregrine falcon that took off from a Seattle zoo yesterday (and was found in good condition not far away) to the panda that was found dead in China after having been released into the wild. Here are some of the highlights from this week's animal news — and don't miss our "Zoo Stories" slideshow with lots of great animal photos.

Wayward whales: The top story, of course, was the journey of Delta and Dawn, a mother humback whale and her calf who took an inland detour up to Sacramento. The whales were injured and probably quite hungry by the time they finally navigated five bridges, a delta, and two bays on their way out the Golden Gate to the Pacific Ocean.

Be nice to those wallabies: A woman whose dogs agitated two wallabies at an Oshkosh zoo, including one that later died, has been cited again for letting her animals run loose. Police found the dogs running free the following day. The owner also had been cited for letting her dogs run loose about two weeks ago when they got into the Menominee Park Zoo and frightened the kangaroo-like wallabies.

Falcon flyaway: The Woodland Park Zoo says a peregrine falcon that took off yesterday during a flight demonstration was found in good condition today in the Northgate area of Seattle. A spokeswoman says keepers were able to track the nine-year-old female because it carried a radio transmitter.

Prenatal shark bite: A shark that bit a curator during a routine physical last week and later died was pregnant, a post-mortem found to the surprise of Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center officials. The pregnancy may have played a role but may not have been the only factor in the shark's fatal reaction to light sedation she received for the physical, aquarium veterinarian Dr. Bob George said Thursday.

Panda death: The first panda bred in captivity and released into the wild has died in China after less than a year, the apparent victim of a fall. Chinese officials said the body bore injuries inflicted by wild pandas, and the animal may have died trying to escape. The body of the 5-year-old panda, Xiang Xiang, was found Feb. 19 on snow-covered ground in the forests of Sichuan province in China's southwest, the Xinhua News Agency said. He survived less than a year despite nearly three years of training on surviving in the wild.

Rare rhino: A rare northern white rhinoceros died Wednesday at the San Diego Zoo, dwindling the critically endangered species' population to as few as 13 worldwide, zoo officials said. Nadi was one of three northern white rhinos at the zoo's Wild Animal Park. No cause of death was given, but the female rhino had shown signs of old age, the zoo said in a statement.

Lurking lizard: Police say they're sure they shot a four-foot-long, 80-pound monitor lizard that had been lurking in an Orlando suburb for months. Still, neighbors aren't ready to let their children or pets back outside until they see a carcass. The lizard didn't bite anyone, but police officers were authorized to kill it because of the potential danger it posed to small children and animals. An officer shot the reptile twice Sunday but wasn't close enough to catch it before the animal scampered into a retention pond, said Lt. Dennis Stewart of the Casselberry Police Department.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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