China’s Bizarre Pet Craze – Puppies Painted with Toxic Varnish to Make Them Look Like Unique Breeds

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In 2010, the Year of the Tiger,  a series of pictures showing orange puppies with black stripes caused controversy in China after they were posted online. Hoping to make a profit off them, some vendors had started selling striped dogs under the false pretense that they were a new breed.  At the time, everybody questioned the authenticity of those photos, not knowing if they were photoshopped, if the puppies where genetically altered or simply painted, but now everyone knows the truth. These are “one week puppies” a name that hints at their short life expectancy due to the toxicity of the varnish they are painted with. Believe it or not, they are still very popular in China.

It seems making your canine companion look like other animals using toxic varnish has become very popular in China. Pandas and tigers are especially sought after and dogs resembling these animals have been showing up in every city. “I have seen this kind of dog more than once in China, once in ZhuHai last fall and then in the city of Guangzhou. Both times the dogs were for sale from a street vendor, they were not all the same color, but they were all striped. The only thing I can think is that the stripes are spray painted on,” a woman wrote on a forum. The coloring process used in the case of the “Bengal dogs” (tiger-skinned dogs) must have required some powerful chemicals as the people curious enough to buy a striped individual reported that the dog was very ill. “I recently bought one of these dogs in Beijing China,” another person wrote . “I got it home and it was very dehydrated. I took it to the vet today and they confirmed that its hair had been dyed. It is a black dog, that gets to be about medium size. They dye the orange part, that’s why the orange is never around the eyes, or nose, and the stripes are so uniform. The vet stated that the dye would wear off in about 2 months, and that the dog would be healthy unless we continued to dye the dog,” he detailed.

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Snoopybabe, the Cute Flat-Faced Cat Taking the Chinese Internet by Storm

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Do you think mastering social media is hard? Apparently, it’s so easy even a cat can do it. Snoopybabe is China’s new internet sensation with 275,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter and 190,000 fans on Instagram.  Hailing from the Sichuan Province, Snoopybabe, an American short-hair and Persian crossbreed, has taken the Chinese interwebs by storm with his cute short snout, innocent brown eyes and charming outfits.

His owner, Miss Ning started posting pictures of Snoopybabe a while back to show him off to her friends. She did not expect the huge attention the two-year old cat attracted. As she posted more videos and pictures of him in different poses and dressed in colorful clothing accessorized with elegant neck pieces, his popularity grew exponentially. He soon reached the same popularity level as already well-established felines such as Tardar Sauce aka Grumpy Cat or Maru. These adorable kitties have become irresistible even to big cat food companies such as Friskies which named Grumpy as their spokescat this month.

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Chinese Zoo Visitors Play Tug of War with Tigers Using Live Chickens

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Who would win in a fight between a man and a tiger? What about a man, a tiger and a chicken? The elusive question has now been answered thanks to some curious visitors of the Changsha Ecological Zoo who played tug of war with caged tigers using live chickens.

According to the zoo staff, when lying around with nothing to do and having food served to them, zoo animals often become lazy, overweight and even lose interest in any kind of physical or intellectual stimulation. They came up with a very interesting but controversial way of keeping the animals in shape through tug of war games. The game is as simple as it gets: the visitors pull at one end of a rope and at the other, the tiger bites and pulls at a hessian bag with a live chicken inside. The chicken is an added bonus meant to engage the tiger’s interest and keep him on his toes. Apart from training the animals, the game was designed as a mean of entertainment for the upcoming National Day Holiday. For 45 yuan ($7), anyone can play and it seems there are many courageous folks willing to measure their strength against the powerful beasts. So far, the tigers are in the lead, winning most of the tug of war games, with one 4 year old Siberian tiger demonstrating his muscle superiority by tackling 7 men at the same time.

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Feline Fashion Calendar Features Stylish Cats Wearing Runway-Ready Designer Clothes

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Do you wish that your cat was just as fashionable as you? Now you can both wear couture designs courtesy of United Bamboo’s kitty clothing line. United Bamboo, a well-known fashion brand has been making calendars for three years now featuring cats dressed up in miniature versions of their most valued designs.

Wearing exact copies of runway clothing, the felines featured in the first issue belonged to friends and family. But soon the brand felt the need to start an Instagram campaign in order to find the most fashion forward cat lovers whose companions not only looked stylish in designer clothes but also looked good on camera. A number of kitties have been selected so far but the competition is tough and not all of them are going to make it in the 2014 issue. Some cats are already popular models such as Jasper, a part Maine coon, part domestic longhair cat who wears a red duffle parka on top of a striped shirt and is featured on the first month of the calendar. Another favorite, Huxtable, a hairless gentle-tomcat who loves “to hang out on people’s shoulders and will walk on a leash!” is wearing a simple yet stylish blouse and a black wool jumper. There is also sociaholic Prince Snowflake dressed in the brand’s colored binding coat, and toothpaste-phobic Gertrude wearing a sparkly dress. All the stars of the calendar are photographed by cat enthusiast Noah Sheldon, while the calendar itself is designed by Studio Lin.

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Brazilian Man to Marry Pet Goat in Devil’s Curch

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Aparecido Castaldo, a retired stone cutter from Jundiai, Brazil has decided to marry his beloved Carmella, a goat. Because no Christian minister would agree to perform the marriage ceremony, the two will be wed by a known satanic leader, in the Church of the Devil.

People have married their pets in the past, although in most cases the marriage ceremony was just a symbolic one performed by family or friends. However, 74-year old Aparecido Castaldo, a widower and father-of-seven, apparently wanted to be united with his goat Carmela in a church, by an evangelical minister. Unfortunately, none of the churches he contacted with his unusual request wanted to perform the ceremony, so Aparecido eventually contacted Toninho do Diabo (Tom the Devil), an old friend who just happens to be one of the most famous satanists in Brazil. The wedding is scheduled to take place at midnight, on October 13, at the Devil’s Church, in Sao Paolo. “Only our church accepted this love between man and animal because we have no prejudice,” Toninho said.

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Bugs the Size of Your Hand – The Titan Beetle

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As its name suggests, the Titanus giganteus, or Titan Beetle, is a giant of the insect world. Adults can grow up to 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) long and have incredibly strong jaws that can snap wooden pencils in half, so just imagine what they could do to your fingers. Luckily, these scary-looking bugs are quite harmless to humans.

The Titan beetle is one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth. It lives unobtrusively deep in some of the South America’s  hottest tropical rain forests and only ventures out when seeking out mates. The larvae of this amazing insect have never been found, but judging by the large boreholes found in dead trees in their natural habitat, scientists believe Titan beetle grubs feed on decaying wood below ground for several years before reaching maturity. The size of these holes suggests the grubs are around two inches in diameter and up to a foot long. Just like the Atlas Moth, the Titan beetle doesn’t feed during its adult life cycle, using the reserves gathered in its pupa stage to fly around long enough to find a mate. Because they mostly sit around waiting for males to seek them out and fertilize their eggs, females have rarely been spotted.

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Fashionable Chicken Pets Wear Diapers and Colorful Outfits

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Statistics show a growing number of American families are replacing cats and dogs with chicken as household pets, so I guess it’s no wonder we’re starting to see things like chicken outfits, diapers and saddles being sold online.

Julie Baker is the owner of Pampered Chickens, an online business that sells a variety of accessories for pet chickens. She got the idea for bird diapers when her feathered friends started spending less time in the backyard and more time inside the house. They were making a mess, so she tried sewing chicken-sized cloth diapers, added some buttons and strapped them on the birds. It worked like a charm, and before long the idea turned into a business. These days Julie sells between 50 and 100 chicken diapers, as well fashionable outfits and protective saddles to urban hen owners across the United States. “Saddles are almost more useful than the diaper, quite frankly,” Baker told The Salt. “A rooster isn’t particularly kind to a hen when they mate. He grabs her by the back and pulls her feathers out. The hen ends up with a completely bare back. It gets raw and bleeds a little bit.” Her family has been a part of the poultry show community for a long time, and when friends saw her pets’ colorful garments, they started asking where she got them. before she new it, orders started rolling in.

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Fluffy Cows – Models of the Bovine World

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Have you ever seen a cow that you simply couldn’t help want to cuddle? I hadn’t, until I saw these photos of extremely fluffy show calves that look like they’re modelling for some kind of bovine fashion magazine.

I first spotted these real-life plush cows on Reddit a few days ago, and I simply fell in love with them. Not in a deranged way, but I just found them irresistible and wished I had one of my own so I could sink my face in its fluffiness. Okay, enough about my weird self. These cows don’t belong to any particular breed. They are show calves, a cross between two different high-quality breeds, bred for bovine show-business. That means that apart from their genetic characteristics, owners go out of their way to make sure the cows look their best. Special feeding, basic manners training and grooming are all part of the show calf world, and believe me when I tell you a lot of effort goes into styling cattle. Just think of them as girls, but with their very own conditioners, hair sprays and lotions. Show calf trimming is also considered an art form among cattle enthusiasts, as it gives the animals that Photoshop-like boxy shape. But as you can see in the photos below, the results are nothing short of spectacular.

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Frog Whisperer Helps Keep Hawaii’s Coqui Population Under Control

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The tiny coqui frog may seem harmless, but as night falls over the islands of Hawaii, thousands of these coin-sized critters start terrorizing the local population with their unrelenting mating calls that can reach up to 90 decibels. Luckily, frog whisperer Keevin Meenami speaks their language and can draw the females out when they become to much to bear.

“ko-KEE-ko-KEE-ko-KEE” – that’s the sound that has disrupted countless hours of sleep and scared away both potential home buyers and tourists from several parts of the Hawaiian archipelago, including the Big Island. Originally from Puerto Rico, the tiny coqui frogs have been arriving to Hawaii as cargo-ship stowaways ever since the late 1980s. With no natural predators to trouble them, they have been multiplying rapidly, eluding eradication crews by camouflaging themselves with a brown or yellow coloring that blends into Hawaiian vegetation.  In 2004, authorities declared war on the coqui and came up with several plans to wipe them out them from the Big island, which had become their headquarters of sorts, and from where they constantly escaped to neighboring islands. They tried just about everything, but in 2010 they announced nothing could be done to get rid of or even contain the coqui population. These days county, state and private groups are doing everything in their power to prevent the invasive frogs from taking over Oahu, Hawaii’s most populated island. Every time there’s a report of coqui chirping anywhere on the island, intervention teams are deployed to localize and neutralize the threat. Most times the frogs are whacked on the spot, but one man has come up with a non-violent way of dealing with the frogs – he just talks to them.

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The Ocellated Ice Fish – World’s Only Vertebrate with Transparent Blood

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Every animal with bones hemoglobin in its blood, which carries oxygen through its body and gives blood its red color. Every animal except one – the ocellated ice fish which has water-clear blood.

The ocean’s depth have revealed a series of odd life forms in recent years, from giant squid to translucent sea anemones, but scientists say the ocellated ice fish discovered in 2011 is among the most fascinating creatures the world over.  This unique fish lives in the ice-cold waters of Antarctica at depths of up to 3,300 feet (1 kilometer), and the only specimens in captivity can be found at Japan’s Tokyo Sea Life Park. Apart from the fact that it has transparent blood and no scales, the ocellated ice fish is not much different than most of the fish species living in Earth’s waters.  But its two special traits have researchers baffled. Because hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen through the body of vertebrates, it’s not yet clear how this species can survive without the metalloprotein which binds with oxygen. Several theories have been formulated on the subject, with some scientists speculating that the unusually large heart of the ocellated ice fish might help move oxygen using plasma instead of hemoglobin, and others saying that it may be able to absorb oxygen through its scale-free skin from the oxygen-rich waters of Antarctica. But the truth is very little is known about this fascinating creature and there are yet no facts to back up the claims.

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The Shark Whisperer – Young Conservationist Dances with Great White Sharks

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Most people wouldn’t dream of going anywhere near a Great White Shark, and yet shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey has no problem swimming with the deadly predators and even hitching a ride with them, in her efforts to prove they’re not the monsters films like Jaws made them out to be.

27-year-old Ocean Ramsey got the nickname “shark whisperer” after photos and video of her petting 17-foot sharks went viral. The world is just discovering this brave young girl and her honorable cause, but Ocean has been traveling the globe swimming with many species of sharks to convince people they are not just mindless killing machines, for years. So far, she has come face to face with 32 species of sharks, including some of the most dangerous like Great Whites, tiger sharks and bull sharks. “I feel so fortunate that some of the greatest moments of my life have been diving with Great White sharks,” the blonde beauty said. “It’s sad to think that the human race could be responsible for the extinction of such vital and beautiful animals.” She hopes her incredible experiences will grab the attention of the public and raise awareness to the plight of these fascinating creatures. A new study revealed that around 100 million sharks are killed every year, a rate 30 to 60 percent than sustainable. It’s estimated only a few thousands of Great White Sharks are left in the world’s oceans.

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Bizarre Dog-Spinning Ritual Believed to Ward off Rabies

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When we were kids, we played this game where we would twist a pencil innumerable times into a loop of thread and then let it go, watching with fascination as it spun around at top speed. It was a fun game, but I never imagined that somewhere in the world, the same thing was being done to living creatures.

Brodilovo is a small, remote village in the South-Eastern part of Bulgaria. Here, villagers are so afraid of rabies that they have a centuries-old tradition to ward off the disease. The bizarre ritual involves the spinning of dogs, just like the pencil game, on a rope, hanging over a small stream. It is practiced once a year and is believed to help keep rabies at bay. The process that the dog is put through is quite enough to give animal rights activists nightmares. Dogs are twisted in a rope that is stretched out tautly over, and are then let go. The dogs spin out of control and then tumble into the water below. Since they reach very high speeds, they are often unable to swim when they hit the water. A net is held at the bottom for the animal to fall into, and then helped out of the water.

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The Incredible Story of Tippi Degre, a Real Life Mowgli

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Mowgli has always been one of the most-loved characters from children’s literature. I loved the Jungle Book cartoon movie when I was a kid and I must say it is a favorite even today. So when I heard about this real-life Mowgli character, I was fascinated.

Folklore and fairy-tales always mention that wild animals do not hurt the young ones of any species. But that theory hasn’t exactly been tested out in the real world, and there have been cases where babies were reportedly killed by man-eating lions or tigers. But that’s what makes Tippi Degre’s story that more special. Now 23 years old, Tippi is the only child of French wildlife photographer parents, Alain Degre and Sylvie Robert. Her parents’profession and their work in Africa made the young girl’s childhood unique, giving her the opportunity to interact with wild animals in incredible ways. She was named after actress Tippi Hedren, who is said to have kept fully-grown lions as pets in her home, and little Tippi was no different from her namesake, demonstrating early on the ability to form unusual bonds with the creatures of the wild.

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Insect Body Snatchers – How the Jewel Wasp Turns Cockroaches into Zombies

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If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I don’t need to tell you what the Imperius curse is. For the rest of you, it’s a spel used to control people’s minds. Now, if you thought something like this was possible only in J.K. Rowling’s world, well here’s some news for you. Nature’s obviously one step ahead. The Jewel Wasp or ‘Emerald Cockroach Wasp’ is actually able to control the mind of its prey, the cockroach, by injecting venom directly into its brain.

The secret to the Jewel Wasp’s ‘captivating’ abilities lies in a neurotransmitter called octopamine in the cockroach’s brain that contols its movements. The wasp’s venom blocks the octopamine, literally converting the cockroach into a zombie. This ‘zombie’ cockroach is completely unable to fight back as it is pulled by the wasp into its underground lair. If you’re wondering why the wasp would go through all this trouble to just eat a cockroach, here’s the really weird part – the cockroach is meant to unwillingly play the part of surrogate mother. The wasp lays an egg into the cockroach’s abdomen, and the larva later hatches and eats the live cockroach from inside out. It takes 3 or 4 days for the larva to hatch, after which it slowly feeds on the roach’s internal organs, keeping it alive the whole time. This process takes about 7-8 days, during which the meat needs to be fresh for the larva. And because a dead cockroach rots within a day, the wasp prefers the ‘stun’ method. Once the roach is eaten up completely and it dies, the larva forms a cocoon inside it. A fully-grown wasp emerges from the cockroach carcass a month later.

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Portland Dog Kissing Contest Will Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth

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They say a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s but is that any reason to actually kiss your canine, even if it’s on Valentine’s Day? The answer is “YES”, at least according to participants at a dog kissing contest in Portland, Maine.

The 9th Annual Valentine’s Day Dog Kissing Contest took place yesterday, at the Planet Dog Company Store in Portland, and yes, there was a lot of face licking going on. The rules of the adorable/disgusting competition are pretty simple. Owners let their canine pets lick their faces – yes, that includes their lips – and the longest cross-species kiss is declared the winner. The big prize for first place? A $75 gift certificate to the Planet Dog store. So it’s safe to say people who enter the dog kissing contest don’t do it for the money, considering everyone actually has to pay a $5 entrance fee. It’s probably just a great opportunity to show off their dog’s affection or maybe it’s to be part of a charity event (all the proceeds go to the Planet Dog Foundation). If you’re easily grossed out about mouth-to-snout smooching, I recommend you don’t watch the video at the bottom.

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