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Meet Katya, the Brown Bear Serving a Life Sentence in a Kazakh Prison

Katya, a 36-year-old brown bear, is the only prisoner at the UK-161/2 penal colony in Kostanay, Kazakhstan, to be serving a life sentence. Ironically, even killers imprisoned here have sentences of no longer than 25 years.

So what could a bear do to end up in prison? Well, Ekaterina, or Katya as most of the 730 inmates at UK-161/2 call her, was put behind bars in 2004, after injuring two humans. Like a lot of her fellow inmates, the brown bear had a troubled life. Katya was abandoned by circus performers visiting Kostanay when she was still just a cub, and then locked in a cage near a popular camping site, as a tourist attraction. It was at the Belaya Yurta campsite that she committed the “crimes” that landed her in the strict regime prison, 15 years ago.

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Cute Pomeranian Becomes Internet Sensation After Being Groomed to Look Like an Egg

PomPom, an adorable Pomeranian from Singapore, recently achieved celebrity status on social media thanks to the efforts of a freelance groomer who managed to turn him into a fluffy egg.

Back in January Andrea Aubrey Sim (@groomer_andrea), a freelance groomer from Singapore, posted photos and videos of one of her most ingenious projects yet, a cute Pomeranian styled to look like a giant egg. She posted the results of her labor on Instagram, but they only went viral late last month, spawning the now trending “Egg Dog” meme. In a video shot from just the right angle, Pom Pom can be seen sitting still, with his ears flat behind his head. while the groomer puts the finishing touches on her work of art – a living dog shaped like an egg.

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The Elusive “Scorpion Beetle” – The Only Known Insect Capable of Inoculating Toxins Through Its Antennae

Beetles are generally regarded as harmless to humans. Out of the over 350,000 documented species of beetle, only three are actually known to bite people, and only if they feel threatened. However, there is another species that few sources mention. Onychocerus albitarsis, aka Scorpion Beetle, is the only known insect capable of stinging humans with its antennae and delivering a painful toxin.

First described in 1859 by famous English entomologist Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe, the scorpion beetle is considered by many experts a fascinating case of convergent evolution. While all other known insects deliver venom or toxins by biting with fangs or stinging with a structure used exclusively for this purpose, e.g. a bee’s stinger, the scorpion beetle does it through its two long antennae, which research has shown have evolved to closely resemble a scorpion’s segmented tail.

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Dutch Inventor Creates “Cow Toilet” That Curbs Ammonia Pollution

Dutch inventor and businessman Henk Hanskamp has developed an ingenious toilet that collects some of the 15 to 20 liters of urine that the average cow produces in a day.

Cows aren’t regarded as the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom, but Hanskamp claims they can be taught to use the toilet. It may sound like an April Fool’s Day joke, but Dutch agricultural machinery manufacturer Hanskamp has been working on the “Cow Toilet” for the last couple of years and according to early tests it could prove a viable solution to the world’s increasingly worrisome ammonia pollution problem. While most cows require stimulation in order to use the cow toilet, some of them have gotten so used to it that they just urinate in it naturally.

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Japanese Food Stall Staffed by an Adorable Shiba-Inu Dog

Food stalls in Japan have apparently gone to the dogs. The aptly-named “Dog’s Sweet Potato Shop”, a small kiosk selling roasted sweet potatoes, in Sapporo, Japan is manned (dogged?) by a three-year-old Shiba-Inu dog.

Japanese Twitter user @hina_shii_ver2 first learned about the unique “Dog’s Sweet Potato Shop” in her home city of Sapporo earlier this month, when her husband texted her a weird message – “There’s a dog selling sweet potatoes”. She thought he was joking, of course, but then he sent her some photos and, sure enough, they showed an adorable dog sitting behind the counter of a small kiosk, seemingly waiting for hungry customers. @hina_shii_ver2 posted several photos and videos of this unusual food-stall on Twitter and they quickly went viral. Of course they did, how often do you see a dog running a business, and a food stall, no less?

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The Story of Tibbles, a Pet Cat That Allegedly Rendered a Bird Species Extinct in Less Than a Year

The Lyall’s wren was a species of small, flightless birds that once thrived on Stephens Island, in New Zealand. It’s one of the many species that have been rendered extinct by the reckless introduction of predators in their natural habitat, but what makes this bird’s story unique is that it was allegedly both discovered and wiped out by a house cat named Tibbles.

The lighthouse on Stephens Island was built in 1892, but the existence of a yet-undiscovered species of bird on this small patch of land was only reported a couple of years later, when assistant lighthouse keeper David Lyall moved in, along with a small staff and his pregnant cat, Tibbles. Lyall was a passionate naturalist and amateur ornithologist, and was looking forward to pursuing his hobbies on this previously uninhabited island, but little did he know that he would go down in history as the man who discovered the Lyall’s wren and indirectly caused its extinction, both in less than a year.

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Wind Turbines and Solar Panels Suspected of Killing Hundreds of Cows in France

In recent years, cattle farmers in France’s Brittany region have lost hundreds of cows to deaths that veterinarians simply cannot explain. After running various tests on their land, some now claim that the solar panels and wind turbines in the area are releasing too much electricity into the ground, which is slowly killing their animals.

Although mysterious cattle deaths have been reported in various parts of Brittany, the situation is particularly dire in Cote-d’Amour, where several farmers have sustained hundreds of losses in mysterious conditions. According to local farmer Patrick Le Nechet, his cattle just started losing weight a few years back and many of them ultimately died. The strange thing was that the animals didn’t seem to be suffering from any diseases and the veterinarians couldn’t explain the cause of death. After conducting his own investigation, Le Nechet concluded that the mysterious deaths started occurring around the time that a photovoltaic installation appeared in the area.

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A Different Kind of Chicken Farm – Italian Farmer Raises Thousands of Chickens in the Woods

Most chicken farms nowadays consists of hangar-like facilities where chickens are cooped up by the thousands with hardly enough space to move around and, in some cases, no sunlight. It’s sad, but it’s also the only way food corporations can keep up with the increasing demand for cheap meat and eggs. However, one farmer in northern Italy runs a very different type of poultry farm – he is raising over 2,000 chickens in a patch of pristine Alpine forest.

48-year-old Massimo Rapella claims he became a chicken farmer by accident. He and his wife used to run an education NGO in the town of Sandrio, in northern Italy’s Valtellina valley, but when the 2008 financial crisis hit and the Italian government cut funding for social enterprises, they decided to move to the nearby mountains. They got a few chickens to provide eggs for their own consumption and soon noticed something interesting. The domesticated birds loved venturing into the nearby chestnut forest, but instead of building a fence to prevent them from doing so, the Rapellas actually encouraged this behavior. Today, they own around 2,100 chickens who spend their days rummaging and laying eggs in a 2-hectare patch of Alpine chestnut forest.

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German Town Seizes Family’s Dog Over Unpaid Taxes, Sells It on eBay

Authorities in the German town of Ahlen have come under fire for seizing a family’s dog over unpaid taxes and then selling it on eBay to recover the money owed.

This bizarre story started back in November, 2018, when a court bailiff and two city officials showed up at an Ahlen family’s home to seize valuables as compensation for financial debts owed to the municipality. The family, who preferred to remain anonymous, told local newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt that the officials first tried to seize her disabled husband’s wheelchair, but couldn’t because it wasn’t their property. Instead, they settled on the family’s pet dog, a pedigree pug named Edda.

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Meet Ghost, the Singing Samoyed Taking Instagram by Storm

There are lots of popular animals on Instagram, but while most of them rely solely on their looks to gain followers, a few actually use their talents to do it. Take Ghost the Samoyed, a fluffy canine who just loves to sing.

It isn’t like Ghost isn’t cute enough to get attention on Instagram just by posing for photos, she just has other special talents. You see, Ghost has a lovely singing voice and she likes to show it off whenever she hears a sound that inspires her. Whether it’s Beyonce singing on TV, her master’s voice on Facetime, or a simple squeaky toy, Ghost just lets loose. Her singing is more like howling, but in many of the performances that her owners upload on Instagram it’s obvious that her howls are not random at all. Especially when listening to a song, Ghost tries to follow along as best she can.

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Opium-Addicted Parrots Wreak Havoc in Indian Poppy Fields

Poppy farmers in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are forced to guard their fields day and night in a desperate attempt to fend off large groups of opium-addicted parrots who get high off the narcotic effects of poppy seeds.

Scattered rains have already affected poppy production in Neemuch district, but farmers here say that the increasing number of opium-addicted parrots that pillage their crops on a daily basis are making things even worse. Using loudspeakers and firecrackers to keep the birds at bay has failed and the farmers’ appeals to local authorities have fallen of deaf ears, so people have no choice but to guard the poppy fields day and night. But even so, the birds still come to get their fix dozens of time a day.

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Meet Aston, the Showjumping Bull Who Thinks He’s a Horse

As a male calf born on a small cattle farm in France, Aston was originally destined to be slaughtered for meat, but after forming a bond with a horse trainer he became a showjumping bull instead.

Five years ago, Sabine Rouas, a horse trainer from Strasbourg, France, had just lost a horse that she had spent 20 years of her life with and felt that she couldn’t get attached to a horse anymore. Instead, she became interested in a family of cows living on a nearby organic milk farm. One of the cows she spent time with was pregnant at the time, and Sabine believes that the calf may have gotten used to her voice while still in its mother’s womb, because soon after it was born, it started following her around whenever she came by. Unfortunately, the farmer wasn’t interested in keeping a bull on a milk farm, so he planned to have the calf, named M309 at the time, slaughtered at only three months. But Sabine wasn’t going to let that happen.

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Bodybuilder Who Used to Make Fun of People with Small Dogs Now Lives with 37 Chihuahuas

Bobby Humphreys, a competitive bodybuilder from Boonsboro, Maryland, has always loved dogs, but until two years ago, he never really cared for small breeds. He always felt that his pets should fit his own image, and even made fun of his male friends who owned small dogs. But one day everything changed and today Bobby shares his home with no less than 37 adorable chihuahuas.

Humphreys used to be a “Big Dog Guy” and he and his wife of 17 years had owned three Rottweilers. He loved their tough, imposing look and never even considered the idea of ever owning a small dog. In fact, he went as far as to poke fun at his male friends if they ever allowed themselves to be seen walking their girlfriends’ small canines. It was an ego thing, but one that Bobby quickly put behind him when he fell in love with Lady, a tiny Chihuahua that he now credits for getting him through the darkest period of his life. She opened his eyes to the love and support that small dogs are capable of offering unconditionally, and the big, strong bodybuilder is now what many would call a Small Dog Guy who looks after dozens of chihuahuas.

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Rare Condition Causes Cat’s Fur to Go From Black to Almost Completely White in Just One Year

Vitiligo, a condition that causes the loss of skin color in blotches, affects around 1% of humans and is even rarer in animals. Elli, one of the few known cats suffering from Vitiligo, was born with a mostly black coat, but just one year after being diagnosed with this mysterious condition, her fur is almost completely white.

Nicole, the cat’s owner, found Elli and her sister on a farm in Germany, when they were only four-month kittens. They were both in poor shape and in desperate need of medical attention, so Nicole adopted them and nursed them back to health. Both cats were black with white spots on their chests, which made them look like they were wearing fur tuxedos, but one day, Elli’s tux started losing its color. It was just a tiny white spot at first, but as months went by, her black coat turned into a black and white mosaic.

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This Dog Has an Extra Mouth Where Her Right Ear Should Be

Toad, a five-year-old grey pitbull mix, suffers from a very rare deformity – she has a second mouth, complete with teeth and salivating glands, growing on the side of her head where her right year should be.

Toad arrived at the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare shelter two years ago, as a stray. The staff there realized almost immediately that there was something different about her, but it wasn’t until they sedated her and performed a thorough checkup of her right ear that they realized that wasn’t actually a normal ear, but a second mouth, with fully developed teeth and saliva coming out of it. It doesn’t function as a normal ear, because it doesn’t have a jaw to allow it to open and close, but Toad can’t hear with it either.

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