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WELLINGTON - New Zealand on Wednesday dismissed a call from top marine scientists to better protect a rare dolphin, saying existing safeguards for the creature dubbed "the hobbit of the sea" were sufficient. Credit: Flickr/Earthrace Conservation The International Whaling Commission's (IWC) scientific committee, representing more than 200 marine experts, has warned that the Maui's dolphin will become extinct unless fishing is banned in its habitat. Researchers believe only around 50 Maui's dolphins are left in their sole range -- shallow waters off the North Island's west coast -- and they estimate three-to-four are accidentally killed as fishing by-catch every year. Conservation Minister...

Dogs Attack Young Girl in New Zealand

WELLINGTON - A seven-year-old Japanese girl was critically injured in New Zealand when a pack of four large dogs mauled her in a "horrific" attack on a rural property, officials said Tuesday. Credit: Associated Press The girl was playing in a yard at Murupara in the North Island on Monday afternoon when four "mastiff-type" dogs belonging to the property's owner attacked her, police said. She was airlifted to hospital suffering "extensive injuries to the majority of her face" and puncture wounds to her arms, legs and hips, the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter said. She underwent surgery on Tuesday and remained in a critical condition. Police said the dogs were put down and they were considering...

Rarest Whale Spied in New Zealand

WASHINGTON - The world's rarest whale, previously known only though bones - has been spotted in New Zealand where a mother and her male calf were examined, Current Biology reports. The spade-toothed whale, or Mesoplodon traversii, previously had not been seen in the flesh, was known only from bone samples and it was not clear if the species was extinct or not. "This is the first time this species -- a whale over five meters in length - has ever been seen as a complete specimen, and we were lucky enough to find two of them," said Rochelle Constantine of the University of Auckland. RELATED: 12 Celebs Who Have Rescued Pets "Up until now, all we have known about the spade-toothed beaked...

A seal pup in New Zealand became an accidental panty-snatcher, almost losing its life in the process. According to the (U.K.) Daily Mail, the young animal managed to get a g-string caught around its neck while swimming in the waters around a nature lookout dubbed Lover's Leap. An onlooker spotted the seal struggling to free itself from an object wrapped around its neck. Worried that the animal would die without help, the onlooker called the Department of Conservation. A team was sent out soon after the call to find and assist the seal pup. It took an hour-long hike and an additional hour of careful work, but the group ended up freeing the pup from its thong chokehold. See More...

We all like to think that our pets whom we love would come through for us somehow in emergency situations, but in New Zealand, a woman owes her entire life to a cat who does not even belong to her. Dawn Bennie credits a stray cat for saving her when her home went up in flames. According to Stuff.co.nz, the cat had been roaming around the Bennie residence for the last year and had become friendly with Dawn and her husband. Usually, the cat would greet the couple, but last Saturday morning, it began to act oddly. "Usually it would come up to my legs, but this time it was freaking out," said Dawn Bennie about the cat that fateful day. RELATED: The Most Shocking Pet Reunions When Bennie...

Wellington SPCA / Wairarapa Times-Age A cat from rural New Zealand got a free ride to Wellington this week when it slipped its way inside one of KiwiRail's passenger cars. The gray, short-haired male cat was discovered during a routine stop by a KiwiRail train conductor, according to the Wairarapa Times-Age. When the conductor attempted to coax the cat into a box, it reportedly left him in bandages. The unfortunate run-in delayed the train for 30 minutes while the injured manager received medical attention and KiwiRail found a replacement driver. According to KiwiRail's Communications Manager, Nigel Parry, the conductor was trying to safely remove the cat from the train in order to take...