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Ukrainian Attack Dolphins, Irish Snakes And A Two Headed Lamb: This Week's Crazy Animal News

By Sean Kane , Mar 18, 2013 09:36 AM EDT
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'We're becoming like Americans': Man rants about underwhelming effects of Hurricane Ophelia in Ireland

It's been an interesting week for animal news, and we've created a wrap-up of the most important things that happened in the animal world.

Here are the top five animal stories of the week.

Ireland's Snake Problem


Snakes are back in Ireland. The reptiles became popular pets during the Celtic Tiger economic boom from 1995 to 2008, and were kept as status symbols among the Irish nouveau riche. But when the country's economy fell with much of the rest of the world in 2008, the Irish began releasing their snakes into the wild. And as authorities have discovered, these snakes were not small status symbols: a 15-foot python was found in a vacant Dublin store.

According to legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland in the fifth century. But scientists believe that snakes haven't been native to Ireland since at least before the most recent ice age, and the island's chilly, wet weather isn't very suitable for cold-blooded reptiles.

Instrument Passports

A new ruling from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) held in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday, will require owners of instruments made from endangered species to obtain a passport for their instruments. The new ruling should aid traveling musicians who often visit foreign countries for performances, and should make it easier for orchestras who use antique, high quality pianos with ivory keys, or violin bows made from tortoise shells. Formerly, traveling across borders with these types of instruments required permits for every leg of the journey.

Two-Headed Lamb

A two-headed lamb was born on Monday near Tarkwa, Ghana. It's still unconfirmed whether the lamb is still alive, and the details (and causes) of its bizarre mutation. It's also unclear if the lamb has two throats.

Clone of a Clone of a Clone of a…

Japanese scientists of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe Japan have bred the first 25 generation clone, and all 580 of the mice in the genetic line are healthy. Previously, when clones were cloned, their offspring were born with abnormalities or didn't survive birth. Before the RIKEN discovery, scientists couldn't get past three generations.

Ukraine's Dolphin Commandos

Reports from the Ukrainian media reported Tuesday that only two of five Ukrainian Navy dolphins returned from a training exercise in the Black Sea. The dolphins were part of a base in Sevastopol in Crimea. The dolphins are trained to sweep for mines, plant underwater explosives and even attack combat divers. Dolphins are also used by the United States for reconnaissance and mine sweeping.

The three dolphins are part of a program started by the Soviet Union in 1973. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the dolphins were transferred to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Navy dismissed the claims and stated that no dolphins had gone missing. However, the navy had also never formerly acknowledged having any attack dolphins.

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