Private Wojtek – The Soldier Bear Who Fought Nazis in WW2

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History, cinema, and books are replete with stories of animals displaying exemplary courage and loyalty. The tale of Private Wojtek, the soldier bear, is no different. In fact, it is nothing short of awe-inspiring, more so because it’s a true story.

The legend of Wojtek begins in 1942, when he was found in Iran by a local boy and traded for a few tins of food to soldiers of the Polish Army stationed nearby. The soldiers cared for the Syrian brown bear cub and fed him milk from empty vodka bottles, fruits, honey and marmalade. Over time though, he began imitating his caretakers, consuming beer and cigarettes. Of course, he ended up mostly chewing the cigarettes instead of smoking them. Soon, the endearing bear became an unofficial mascot of all the Polish units stationed in the area. He moved with the company to various countries.

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Amazing Indian Girl Is Friends with Six King Cobras

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India has long been known as the land of the snake charmers. But here’s something very unusual. An 8-year-old Indian girl who plays all day  not with other girls, but with her pet King Cobras.

Kajol Khan lives in the village of Ghatampur in Uttar Pradesh, with her parents, six sisters, two brothers and six pet Cobras, her best friends. She comes from a family of snake catchers and hopes to carry on in her father’s footsteps someday. Her father, 55-year-old Taj Mohammad has been working as a snake catcher in Ghatampur for the past 45 years. While he has already passed on his skills to his son, he’s unexpectedly found himself a mentor to his daughter Kajol. The little girl has been used to snakes crawling around her since she was a baby, and hence feels nothing out of the ordinary in their presence. In fact, she prefers hanging out with her slithering buddies rather than go to school. She has been bitten – on her stomach, cheeks and hands – but this is hardly of any concern to her. Kajol has always been able to make a full recovery, thanks to her father’s herbal medicine, which has been a family secret for generations. “I have a lot of fun with the cobras. It hurts when they bite me but sometimes it’s my own fault because I tease them. It’s quite funny.”

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Ball Cutter Fish Kills Fishermen by Biting off Their Testicles

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Man-eating predators have always been part of legend and folk-lore. But here we have news of a real-life monster, interested in only one part of the human anatomy – the testicles.

The monster in question is in fact a 40lb fish called Pacu, found in the waters of Papua New Guinea. The Pacu are notorious for having eaten up the testicles of swimmers and anglers caught unawares, leaving them to bleed to death. This has led to the creatures being nicknamed ‘Ball Cutter’ fish. Initially, the villagers could only describe the monster-fish as something mysterious, like a ‘human in the water’. They finally got to see the predator up-close when a Pacu fish was recently caught by Jeremy Wade, a 53-year old British Fisherman, as a part of his TV series called River Monsters. The muscular fish was hard to catch, but Wade managed to track it down, reel it into his boat and wrestle it into submition. When he opened its jaws up with his hands, the teeth of the Pacu were found to be quite similar to human ones.

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Art Critics Go Bananas over Paintings Made by Monkey

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Pockets Warhol is a monkey who lives in a sanctuary near Uxbridge, Toronto. The monkey was named after American pop artist Andy Warhol, whom he resembles, with his wild white hair. But that’s not what he’s famous for. Pockets has a little art scene of his own going on. His paintings sell for as much as $300, and he even has a Facebook page.

The teenage monkey has been living in the sanctuary since his owner gave him up due to ill health. He was put in a rehab program that introduced him to non-toxic children’s paint, in order to keep him occupied. Volunteer Charmaine Quinn never realized that his work would one day become famous. She says that Pockets has the attention span of a 3-year-old, so it’s not always easy to get him to concentrate on a painting. But when he gets going, each piece sells for a minimum of $25. He loves working with bright colors, and the unique aspect of his work is that he doesn’t make use of a painting brush. Instead, he uses his bushy tail, furry butt, hands, feet and even tongue as tools. The paintings themselves are quite abstract, with colors splattered all over the canvas.

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Dog Proves He Is Truly A Man’s Best Friend

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The relationship between a dog and its master has always been a special one, and is often depicted in books and films as well. Dogs tend to know things instinctively, and it’s no secret that a dog is possibly one of the best companions to human beings.

Time and again, we have heard stories of courage and love displayed by these furry four-legged creatures. One such story has emerged from a village in Eastern China. A story, where love and loyalty transcend even the barriers of death.

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World’s Only Dog Chapel Faces Shutdown Due to Unpaid Debts

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Created by artist Stephen Huneck as a place where people of all religions could celebrate the spiritual connection they have with their dogs, the famous Dog Chapel of Vermont is now in danger of being closed down due to unpaid property taxes.

Stephen Huneck loved dogs for as far as he could remember, but growing up in a family with seven children, he couldn’t afford to get one of his own. That all changed when he became an adult, and the special bond between him and his dogs was never stronger than when he came out of the hospital, following a two-month coma caused by a serious fall, 14 years ago. His four legged friends stood by his side as he learned to walk again. They would go into the forests to walk on trails and the dogs walked two feet in front of him and always looked after him and waited for him to catch up. The dog’s behaviour during this time really moved him and he felt like he was in the hands of God’s helpers…Stephen truly believed “dogs make us better people” and that “they can teach us more about love than most relationships we enter into”.

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World’s First 7-Star Pet Resort Opens in Dubai

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Urban Tails Dubai, the world’s first seven-star resort for pets, was inaugurated this summer and owners say it was such a big hit they’ve been full all season.

Just think of this place like an equivalent of Burj al Arab for cats and dogs. It was created by Irish ex-pat Aideen O’Mara who moved to the UAE in 2004, where she worked at an international school before opening her luxury pet resort. She speculated the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on Dubai’s public beaches or in parks and decided to create an environment where cats and dogs could “socialize in luxury surroundings”, while their European masters went home during the hottest time of the month. This way, the poor animals didn’t have to be confined inside for five months, due to unbearable heat. ”I have always had pets and I feel that animals are given a bit of a raw deal in the UAE in terms of pet services on offer and they do not have much freedom in comparison to dogs in Europe.” Aideen says.


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Pet Designer Makes the Most Adorable Animal Hats

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Like to torment your pet, do you? Than you’re going to get a kick out of Amelie Segarceanu’s extensive collection of cat and dog headgear.

Amelie, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a hat designer who apparently likes to play dress-up with animals. She creates funny headgear for cats and dogs and sells them to animal lovers on her Etsy shop, To Scarborough Fair, along with free tips on how to trick pets into wearing them. A relaxed mood and some tasty treats are always a good way to start dressing up your pet, and speaking in a warm, soothing voice doesn’t hurt either. Still, cats are known to be very sensitive and even though these silly hats are especially designed to make them more tolerable, some felines won’t be easily convinced. I’d say they don’t like being laughed at, but that’s just me.

Maybe Amelie should get together with Cat Prin, the famous cat tailor, and make some complete pet wardrobes.

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Snapperfest – Yet Another Another Animal Cruelty Fest

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Snapperfest is an obscure Indiana festival where participants have to yank a snapping turtle’s head out of its shell until they can wrap their hands around its neck.

It has been taking place in Ohio County, Indiana, for over a decade, despite PETA’s numerous attempts to shut it down, and sadly, it was organized this year as well, on August 20th. As always a big crowd gathered at Campshore Campgrounds to see the “brave” competitors tormenting a bunch of frightened snapping turtles. Now that right there sounds like a great way to spend your weekend.

Every Snapperfest contestant has to run up to a tank full of snapping turtles, grab one by its tail, slam it onto a piece of tarp and yank its head out of the shell. Apparently, each participant has his own techniques to get the wild-caught turtles to reveal their heads, but most popular are the repeated slamming against the ground, and pounding on the shell. While the crowd cheers them on, they grab the snapper turtle’s head and yank it out enough to wrap their hands around its neck. The one who manages to yank the turtle’s head fastest, wins.

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The Subway-Riding Dogs of Moscow

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Everyone knows dogs are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth, but the stray canines in Moscow have really impressed scientists with their metro-riding routines. Every day, the dogs living on the outskirts of Russia’s capital jump on the tube all the way to the city center, the best place to scavenge for foods.

During the soviet era, dogs weren’t allowed into subway stations, and since restaurants and fast-food stands were scarce all around Moscow, they had no reason to venture into the city. Most canines preferred to live in the industrial areas, where they searched for food in garbage dumps, or lived on whatever workers threw away. But after the fall of the USSR, the situation changed drastically: their homes on the outskirts of Moscow were taken over by commercial centers and apartment complexes, while restaurants and fast-food carts popped-up downtown. A while ago, I wrote about Cacao, the bus-riding dog of Milan. I thought he was unique, but it appears Moscow strays mastered public transportation years ago.

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Meet Beau, the Canine Calculator

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Beau the Labrador knows all the usual tricks like “sit”, “roll over”, but he prefers something a little more challenging like subtracting, dividing, multiplying. Yup, you guessed it, this pooch is a canine mathematician.

The 12-year-old black Labrador retriever is probably smarter than a lot of people when it comes to math, considering he can multiply, subtract and even bark the square root of some numbers. Vince Devlin, of the Missoulian, visited Beau at his summer retreat on Lake Flathead, Montana. He lives with his owner, Melissa Canady, in Augusta, Georgia, but during the hot summer months he spends his time with Melissa’s parents, Dave and Patti Madsen. Dave is actually the one who taught him everything he knows about math, after the man noticed he was brighter than the average puppy.

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Dyed Chicks – Because Normal Chicks Just Aren’t Cute Enough Anymore

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Popular in many countries around the world, including the US, dyed chickens are often viewed as victims of animal cruelty people usually get rid of as soon as they’re not “awfully cute” anymore.

I don’t know what’s happening with the world, but it seems that things that were cute by default a few years ago, just aren’t cute enough today. People are dying their puppies to look like wild animals, fish have to be either tattooed or locked in tiny keychains, and chicks apparently have to be brightly colored to sell. Dyed chicks are sold by street vendors in countries like China, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Yemen and even the US, where they attract the attention of passers by with their unnatural colors. But what most people don’t know is these “cute” baby birds aren’t dyed after hatching, they are injected with the dye as embryos, inside the egg.

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Zoo Owner to Spend Five Weeks Caged with Lions

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Alexander Pylyshenko, 40, owner of his own private zoo, in the Ukrainian city of Vasylivka, will be spending 35 days caged with two lions, in a stunt he hopes will raise awareness to the poor treatment of lions held in captivity.

The brave zoo owner says he will live like a lion from the moment he enters the cage. That means he will sleep on hay on the floor and eat from the meat that will be given to the lions through the cage bars. As for personal hygiene, Pylyshenko has built a toilet and shower inside the enclosure, but he’ll have to restrain from using shampoo, shower gel or deodorant, as big cats hate sharp odours. While lioness Katya and her mate Samson seem to get along just fine with their caretaker, things might not be as peaceful when they share a living space 24/7, especially since the female is expected to give birth during the five week period, and lionesses are known to be quite over-protective of their cubs.

But Alexander Pylyshenko, who has studied lions his entire life, is confident he will survive this dangerous test, and draw attention to the problems of big cats in captivity. He also plans to paint portraits of the lions while living with them, and sell them to raise money for charity. His 35-day experience living with two lions will be recorded via four webcams, which will broadcast it on the Internet, here.

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Indonesia’s Laughing Cock Craze Is No Laughing Matter

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Roosters being sold for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars might sound like a joke to you, but in many parts of Indonesia it’s very serious business.

They look like ordinary cocks, but it’s only when they start crowing that people realize just how special they really are. Instead of the normal “cock-a-doodle-do”, these birds make a sound similar to human laughter, which earned them the name “laughing cocks“. Trained and raised to make this special sounds, laughing cocks are source of pride for their owners, who feed them only the best foods, and pamper them with large, ornate cages. This breed of chicken originated in South Sulawesi, where it was known as ayam raja (king chicken), because only Burgis kings were allowed to breed them.

Nowadays, anyone who can afford is allowed to breed laughing cocks, and while they are very valuable, they’re also extremely sensitive. They have to be fed properly and their big cages have to be cleaned twice a day, because these birds tend to become ill very easily. But the high maintenance cost is easily covered by the profit of selling laughing cocks or winning regional laughing contests. A day old chick sells for Rp 100,000 ($12), while a 3-month old bird goes for Rp 300,000 ($36) to Rp 500,000 ($59). But it’s the mature laughing roosters that bring the most profit, as the price of a 9-month bird ranges between Rp 3 million ($354) and Rp 5 million ($590).

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California Cat Lady Adopts over 700 Feral and Abandoned Cats

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Lynea Lattanzio wanted a cat when she was little, but her mother didn’t approve. Now she runs California’s “Cat House on the Kings” shelter and takes care of almost 800 cats.

Lynea’s inspiring story began in 1981, when, after going through a difficult divorce, she decided to move to a quiet place on the river. She bought a 6-acre patch of land and settled in by 1983. Soon after she started asking herself: “What was I thinking, single woman with no children living in a big house on 6 acres?”, but little did she know her decision would change her life forever. Nine years later, Lynea’s father asked for her help to replace his 2 Manx cats who had died of old age. On a quest to fulfill her father’s wishes, Lynea stopped by a local animal shelter and walked out the door with a box of 15 abandoned kittens (none of which were Manx). By the end of that year she had rescued and placed 96 abandoned cats, and had found her calling.

In 1993, Lynea Lattanzio came out of retirement to become a surgical veterinary techinician, an experience that both expanded her medical knowledge and help pay the veterinary expenses of her increasing cat family that now numbered 150 members. She also had to sell her diamond wedding ring and her 1973 Mercedes 450 SL – her pride and joy. In 1997, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning variance on Lynea’s property, which put her Cat House on the KIngs into the spotlight and brought in financial support and volunteers. In 2002, she expanded her cat shelter and added long-term boarding facilities and an area for FIV positive cats.

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