Watch these cute Barn Owls learn how to fly for the first time

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“Luna and Lily have grown from helpless little chicks to near adult barn owls and now they're beginning to learn how to fly.”

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See the cute and strange underbelly of animals

Familiarize yourself with the underside of myriad animals, from turtles and birds to bats and cats. (Wakaleo Animal Channel via Laughing Squid)

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Will we ever live in a world without pets?

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Today we travel to a future without pets. What would it take for us to give up our fuzzy, slithery, fishy friends? Should our pets get more rights? And if we didn’t have dogs or cats, would we domesticate something else to take their place?

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In this episode we also run through a couple of possible ways we might wind up in a pet-free world. Which, to me, sound really sad. Thankfully (spoiler alert) it’s probably never going to happen.

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky

▹▹ Full show notes

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National Poo Museum will be crappy in a good way

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Next month, the Isle of Wight Zoo in England is opening a National Poo Museum! The new exhibition will include preserved feces from a wide array of animals, from the Lesser Madagascan Tenrec to lions, and of course a 38 million-year-old coprolite, fossilized crap such as the specimen seen above.

"It's stinky, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous stuff — but it’s all around us and inside us too — and perhaps surprisingly our planet would be a much poorer place without it," a museum spokesperson told the County Press. Read the rest

Should Cesar Millan be fed to pigs?

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So-called "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan thought he had a great idea to fix a dog who had killed two pet pigs. He'd let it off the leash near a new pig, then inflict whatever pseudoscientific, domineering bullshit he does to dogs to make dogs temporarily obedient. Unfortunately, the dog immediately ran over to the pig and bit part of it its ear off before anyone could stop it.

Far from being chastened, the producers apparently used the footage to market his show, reports The Dodo:

The clip has raised a storm of controversy on social media, along with a petition to get Millan off the air permanently.

Jim Crosby, an outspoken animal behaviorist who has trained hundreds of dogs, thinks Millan may have even committed a crime under section 597 of California's criminal code.

"Even if we let the first engagement slide as an accident," he writes on Facebook, "this documents several felony counts occurring in California at the 'Dog Psychology Center' as directed and permitted by the trainer. It may also qualify as 'baiting' under the various state and federal dog and animal fighting statutes."

The original promo clip seems to have been removed; all that I could find are outraged commentaries with sinister music and such. Here's another one, also commentated but with the original audio:

Psychology Today's Mark Derr says Cesar's methods are antiquated and his fans threaten critics.

… the best learning outcome would be for National Geographic to take a stand for dogs, pigs, and other animals and remove Cesar Millan from the air until he reforms his act.

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Unicorn chased down and returned to owner

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Police responding to reports of a unicorn on the loose chased down the mythological beast to find a suitably-augmented pony that had escaped from a children's birthday party.

"She was kind of running amok in some orchards with some white blooms," said Sandra Boos, whose family owns the horse named Juliette. "So, she kind of blended in with the scenery.

"She turned out to be stealthier than we would have imagined."

Juliette, who belongs to 5-year-old Tatum Boos, was finally found in an orchard, wrangled back into custody and returned to her Madera County stable in a fairy-tale ending.

"I was afraid," Tatum said. "She got in a timeout because she was being a bad pony."

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99-year-old woman wakes to an exotic "honey bear" sleeping on her chest

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This is a kinkajou, or "honey bear," a mammal who usually calls the Central and South American rainforests its home. That's far from Miami, Florida, where one scared the hell out of a 99-year-old woman who woke up to find it sleeping on her chest. The animal ran off into the attic where her son-in-law was able to lure it into a cage. He brought it to the South Dade Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center where veterinarian Don J. Harris identified it.

“I don’t know, I guess her first impression was it might be a cat, but when they both got a look at each other, they both freaked out," Harris said.

According to the Miami Herald, the kinkajou's owner has been found. Read the rest

Panda frolicking in snow at DC's National Zoo is all of us in #Blizzard2016

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Panda. Snow. Floof-play. Didn't take long on #Blizzard2016 weekend for this video to go viral.

Tian Tian, an adult giant panda bear who lives at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC enjoys rolling around in the snow after a winter storm dumped nearly two feet of the white stuff in the region.

Video: YouTube | Twitter.

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Dogs that have their tongue sticking out just a little

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A tumblog of greatness: “dogs that have their tongue sticking out just a little.”

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Man loves bear, and bear loves man right back. For now.

Медведь играет с человеком ("Bear Plays with a Man"). Indeed. (YouTube)

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Deer enjoys frolicking in a puddle in the forest

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“Super cute. Deer frolicking in a puddle.”

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Gorgeous images from National Geographic Photo Contest

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This is James Smart's breathtaking photo of an anti-cyclonic tornado touching down near Simla, Colorado. The image is the grand prize winner of the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest. Below, two of the other incredible honorees: Tugo Cheng's photo of the Tian Shan mountain ranges in Central Asia; Andrew Suryono portrait of an orangutan in the rain in Bali, Indonesia.

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Listen: whistleblower story that Marineland threatens to sue journalists for disclosing

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Phil Demers worked as an animal trainer at Niagara Falls, Ontario's Marineland for 12 years before resigning because he believed that the animals in his care were being mistreated and he did not believe that his employers would listen to him or his colleagues' warnings about this. Read the rest

Huskies howl at video of howling Siberian Husky

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Crank it up and freak out your dogs, people! Read the rest

This bonobo's big grin is infectious

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From the Cincinnati Zoo's wonderful Instagram feed:

Bonobo smiles can mean different things like fear or playfulness. They also have large grins when they are wrestling with other bonobos and laughing. Bonobos are a critically endangered species in the wild. They inhabit only one region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), there are only an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 left in the wild. The species face constant threat from loss of habitat due to deforestation and mineral mining including diamonds and coltan – an ore used in cellphones and computers.

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Watch this adorable orangutan's response to a simple yet effective magic trick

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Oh, my heart! An amazing human/primate interaction, caught on video.

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Man arrested with 51 turtles in his pants

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Kai Xu was arrested attempting to cross into Canada from Detroit, Michigan with 51 live turtles down his pants, mostly strapped to his legs. He was apparently smuggling the turtles he had bought to resell outside the US at much higher prices. From the Associated Press:

The investigation had started after a courier company in Detroit tipped the wildlife service to a package that had been shipped from Alabama addressed to Xu.

According to the court documents, agents watched as Xu allegedly opened various boxes in the rear of his SUV, took out several round clear plastic containers, and placed their contents into plastic baggies. He also had packaging tape and scissors.

“Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both his legs,” the document states.

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