Marna Gillian and Sean Purdy had a cat named Moon Unit, until she disappeared from her home in London as they hosted a New year’s Eve party in 2007. They searched for her, and posted notices, but after a few months decided that Moon Unit was not coming home. Fast forward to 2016, and Gillian received an email from a French animal rescue group that they had identified Moon Unit from her microchip!
"She was found in Essonne, a suburb south of Paris," Gillian explained. "We have no idea how she got there. Our best guesses are that she stowed away, or found a new family, was brought over by them, and then ran away? The stowaway theory seems the most likely i think.
"She didn't get there legally, we do know, because her microchip would have been checked in that case."
Gillian and Purdy are no longer a couple, but they took a train together to collect Moon Unit in Paris. They say she is adjusting well, and will soon be introduced to one of her adult kittens. -via Uproxx
Jimmy the horse wanted a nap. His human's head was handy, so he leaned over to use her for support. The human, Lisa Brown, explains:
I was out in the fields early one morning, and Jimmy lay down to snooze, which he does often. I took my cup of coffee and went to sit with him. I was scratching and stroking him, and he began to lean on me and then pushed me gently back until I was basically his human pillow! Jimmy has a very peaceful nature, but he's also a comic genius!
Believe it or not, this is a live parrot, and not a squeeze toy! Kanji has not only learned how to make the exact sound of a squeaky toy, he also knows the appropriate time to use that talent. -via Tastefully Offensive
These lucky humans can travel halfway around the world and their little kittie pal will stay right by their side, exploring the world with their owners by day then setting up camp right next to them at night.
The Snowy Owl family on the North Slope of Alaska needs to move toward a new home. Daddy Owl has already scouted out a new place to live. Since the baby owls can't fly yet, they have to walk. And when they get to a river, they have no choice but to swim across it.
As this scene from Nature illustrates, they're quite good at it! Even without swimming lessons, the baby owls figure out how to row across the water with their wings.
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!
Cat-centric research compiled by Dirk Manley, Improbable Research staff
Cats Recognize (But Don’t Always Respond to) Owners’ Voices “Vocal Recognition of Owners by Domestic Cats (Felis catus),” Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka, Animal Cognition, vol. 16, no. 4, July 2013, pp. 685-690. The authors, at the University of Tokyo, report:
We studied 20 domestic cats to investigate whether they could recognize their owners by using voices that called out the subjects’ names, with a habituation–dishabituation method. While the owner was out of the cat’s sight, we played three different strangers’ voices serially, followed by the owner’s voice. We recorded the cat’s reactions to the voices and categorized them into six behavioral categories. In addition, ten naive raters rated the cats’ response magnitudes. The cats responded to human voices not by communicative behavior (vocalization and tail movement), but by orienting behavior (ear movement and head movement). This tendency did not change even when they were called by their owners. Of the 20 cats, 15 demonstrated a lower response magnitude to the third voice than to the first voice. These habituated cats showed a significant rebound in response to the subsequent presentation of their owners’ voices. This result indicates that cats are able to use vocal cues alone to distinguish between humans.
Yellow Purple the penguin (Purps for short) lives at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. She injured her foot and needed help with her mobility, so the aquarium staff enlisted the help of the ACT Group/3D Systems and a local middle school. They all worked together to design and 3D print a boot to help Purps get around while she heals.
This is Guy, a dog who lives in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania. On Thursday, he was hiking in the woods with 79-year old human, who fell and hit his head. The human lay there for 12 hours while Guy frantically tried to get the help of other nearby two-legs. WJLA reports:
The dog reportedly ran up the bank where the rescuers were, and would stop every 20-30 feet, barking until he led them to where the elder man was lying. […]
"It was like watching an episode of 'Lassie,'" says emergency responder, Matthew Mariscano.
These true accounts of President Lincoln’s animal encounters show that the Great Emancipator’s compassion wasn’t limited to humankind.
LITTLE ABE AND THE WILD TURKEY
Lincoln learned at seven years old that he was different when it came to animals. Most boys his age didn’t think twice about hunting wild game during the frontier days of the early 19th century. But one day, young Abraham Lincoln shot a turkey on his family’s farm. According to biographer Thomas Keneally, “The experience of destroying animal life, of seeing the gush of blood, repelled him, and he would never become the dead-eye frontier marksman of American myth.”
WHAT THE SHELL?
When Lincoln was a teenager in the 1820s, a common pastime among his classmates was to catch terrapins (freshwater turtles) and then turn them over on their backs to watch them try to right themselves— usually unsuccessfully. Lincoln would have no part of such games. And when those games took a more sinister turn, the teen refused to stand idly by. This story comes from the 1909 book The Heart of Lincoln, by Wayne Whipple:
You may have noticed that the music here is not original to the videos, because we’ve seen some of these birds dancing before. You find a list of the original videos and music tracks at the YouTube pages. -via Laughing Squid
Some dogs understand what’s supposed to happen on a playground slide, while others have yet to grasp the concept. It doesn’t seem to matter much, really; they all are having the time their lives! -via Tastefully Offensive
We've all seen dogs who are really good skaters, but as it turns out cats are totally rad thrashers too, and they were either too lazy or too cool to show off their skills for the sake of human amusement.
But in this video Boomer the Bengal finally relents and shows off his sk8 or die side while his famous skater sister Didga, as well as a few dumbfounded dogs, cheer him on.
This Craigslist ad originated in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where this kind of thing probably happens more it than does where you live. If you had a picture like that, you’d be tempted to do the same thing. I wonder how many responses they got. -via reddit
Earlier this month, we got to see three new Scottish wildcat kittens at a British zoo. Now there’s one at the Chester Zoo in Chester, UK, as well. The single kitten was born in May to mother Einich, but had only recently emerged from its den for the first time. This event was caught on camera as the kitten heard its mother warn people away.
She’s letting you know she’s definitely a wildcat -but the two-month-old kitten is adorable. The cats, Einich and her mate Cromarty and the kitten, are not on public display, but zoo visitors can watch them on a webcam feed. Read more about the Scottish wildcats at the zoo’s website. -via mental_floss
Passersby noticed a cat stuck in a grate over a storm drain in Winchendon, Massachusetts, last Thursday. The Winchendon Fire Department responded and found the cat with its body hanging inside the grate, and its head stuck. They believe the cat was inside the storm and drain and was trying to get out. However, it’s also possible that cat’s body slipped through from above. The fire department reported:
When we arrived the cat was barely breathing and moving as she was hanging from the grate. Lieutenant Peters, Firefighter/Medic Harding, and myself removed the grate and uprighted the grate so the cat could breath. When the owner arrived we had him get some dish soap from his house and we applied it around the cats neck, we slowly worked his head back into the grate and within a couple minutes we freed the cat.
This is Sumatra, a giant albino Burmese python. She works with Redding Reptile Parties, an event service in Redding, California that brings reptiles to parties. In this video, Sumatra enjoys a hot summer day in the pool with two young friends.
Don't worry about the girls! They're safe. Corey Williams, Sumatra's owner, describes how gentle she is:
She has been to over 500 birthday parties and many schools, she has been around kids since she was a baby, she has never killed anything she even likes our dogs and cat. funny story I have found the most humane way to kill a rabbit or chicken is to give them a strong hit to the back of the neck with a hard object this normally kills them instantly for I don't like to see any animal suffer. Anyway I came in later to see if Sumatra had eaten and the chicken was walking around her cage, she would not touch it unless it was dead so I killed it for sure this time and she ate it right away.
James Dickson was driving a country road, windows down, music up, and the song “I’m Broken” by Pantera was playing. He pulled up next to a pastured horse wearing a raincoat who appreciated Dickson’s taste in music. The horse started head banging, then tapping his hoof, and if the car had stuck around a bit longer, we’d probably see him try crowdsurfing. Note that Dickson named the video after the 1992 Pantera album Vulgar Display of Power. -via Tastefully Offensive
Newly-hatched ducklings are known for “imprinting,” or latching on to the first thing they see as their mother. That way they know who to follow and who will protect them. Imprinting is considered to be instinct, and ducklings have been known to imprint on animals and even objects that are not their mother. A recent experiment hijacked the imprinting period to determine how intelligent ducklings are, as in whether they can distinguish the abstract concepts of “same” and “different.”
To explore how ducks think, researchers exposed newborn ducklings to a variety of objects, showing them pairs that were either the same or different, in characteristics like shape or color. Later, when shown completely different objects, three-fourths of the ducks got up and followed the pair that had the same relation they'd originally seen—whether it was one of color or shape, sameness or difference—parading after them the same way they'd line up and follow Mrs. Mallard.
For example, newborn mallards who were first exposed to two spheres (same), later chose to follow a pair or triangles (same) rather than a cube and a cuboid (different). “We hatch them, we give them about 12 hours to dry off, and once they able to walk they are able to do this and learn it with great accuracy,” says Antone Martinho a cognitive scientist at the University of Oxford and co-author of the new study.
This kind of relational matching behavior has been observed in certain primates, like monkeys and apes (and of course humans), and a few other birds, like parrots and crows. But again, these animals are all generally considered to be far more intelligent than ducks.
This experiment brings up a few thoughts. 1. Who is going to care for those experimental ducklings and show them how to duck? B. If newborn ducklings can distinguish same from different, maybe that concept isn’t really “abstract thought.” 3. Could this have been an ancient observation that led to the story of The Ugly Duckling? After all, the ducklings were aware of how different the cygnet was. Read more about the duckling experiment at Smithsonian.
Celine Chasteen and a friend were paddleboarding in Jupiter, Florida last week. To her surprise, a charming and bold manatee popped up out of the water, placed his flippers on her board, and made eyes at her.
Chasteen was delighted. And although the manatee didn't get her number, his chances are excellent. The Dodo quotes her:
I thought he was really cute. He was really nice and stuff. I hope he drops by again.