Large School of Fish Frozen in Place near the Coast of Norway

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This winter’s been a rough one so far. There are so many pictures online of frozen cities and towns. The season has been bad for Canada and the US, due to the much discussed polar vortex. The UK is said to be facing the worst winter in decades.

The extreme temperatures have been keeping people indoors, but not all creatures have a place to take shelter from the cold. Like this large school of fish that froze solid on the coast of Lovund – a small island off of Norway. It isn’t clear what the fish were doing so close to the coast but the incredible photos of them frozen as they swam in their usual patterns have been doing the rounds online for the past couple of days.

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Huachito, “Bolivia’s Most Loyal Dog”, Still Waits for His Master Five Years after His Death

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Huachito is an extremely faithful Bolivian dog, named after his famous Japanese counterpart, Hachiko. Just like Hachiko, who stunned the world with his loyalty to his dead owner, Huachito is mourning the death of his beloved human friend.

Huachito, ‘Huachi’, or simply ‘Hachi’ to some, is of an unknown breed. This remarkable dog has surprised the residents of Pope Paul Avenue, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he comes daily and waits for his master to return. Unfortunately, the dog’s owner passed away five years ago in a tragic accident.

According to Roman Lujan Bilbao, a local butcher, “It should be about five years since the owner died in a motorcycle accident. The dog has come and stood here ever since.” The locals have taken to feeding and caring for the dog while it waits patiently.

Huachito-dog

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Giant Gippsland – The World’s Largest and Most Extraordinary Earthworms

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What’s 31 inches long, one inch thick, has no legs, and slithers through the ground? No, it’s not a snake, it’s an earthworm! The Giant Gippsland, found in Gippsland in south-eastern Australia, is the world’s largest species of earthworms. Fully stretched, it can measure up to two meters in length.

These slithering giants are surprisingly gentle creatures. They are quite hard to spot, spending most of their lives deep underground. Higher water content in the soil helps them breathe better. Their burrows can be as deep as 3 to 5 feet below the surface. Sometimes, heavy rainfall forces them to emerge out of the dirt. You might find also find their burrows in places where there’s been a landslip.

They are quite fragile – reckless handling can crush and kill them. Only a particular type of moist soil is suitable for their survival. If you happen to walk over their water-filled burrows, they will respond to the vibration of your footsteps. They start to crawl about and make squelchy noises that are quite easy to hear. So even though the Gippsland Giants are pretty rare, you’ll know when they are around.

Giant-Gippsland-earthworm

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Romantic Bowerbird Builds Intricate Structures to Seduce Females

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The concept of bachelor pads isn’t unique to humans. Male bowerbirds are amazing architects, but they reserve theirs skills for just one purpose – finding a mate. They construct such elaborate and dazzling nests to impress females, perhaps they could teach our men a thing or two about home décor.

Male bowerbirds use embellishments such as coins, nails, leaves, shells, seeds, flowers and live insects to weave their nests, called bowers. Bowers are U-shaped nests built with twigs and grass, and carpeted with moss. Each bower is an architectural marvel that stretches out 5 or 6 yards across, complete with a thatched roof and supporting pillars.

Blue is a very important color in the construction process. Male bowerbirds use several blue objects – berries, flowers, bottle caps and string – to attract prospective mates. Research has proven that females are attracted to bowers with the most number of blue decorations. Because blue objects are rare in a bowerbird’s environment, a male who is able to acquire them and protect them is deemed superior.

bowerbird

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UAE Hold Annual Camel Beauty Pageant

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The Arabs appreciate their camels rather deeply. They call these beautiful creatures ‘God’s gift to the Bedouin’. In fact, they love camels so much that they get together once a year to pick out the most beautiful ones of them all.

The Al Dhafra Festival is held annually at Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. The camel beauty pageant is the highlight of this festival, featuring 30,000 camels from all over the Gulf region. It’s something like a dog-show, with the animals being paraded around and given marks on their appearance.

How does one judge the beauty of a camel? According to Ali Al Mansouri, a camel owner and member of the Al Dhafra organizing committee, “The judges are looking for camels with big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks and big whiskers.” He also said that the body should be long, the hump and the back should be big, and the color and posture of the camel are important.

camel-beauty-pageant

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The Unbelievably Cute Blacknose Sheep of Valais

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The Valais Blacknose sheep are some of the cutest animals I’ve ever seen. On first glance, they don’t even look real; many people have mistaken them for well-crafted felt projects. I wonder why they aren’t more popular on the internet. They do have a Facebook fan page with over 3,500 likes, butI think they ought to be more well-known.

The Blacknose sheep originate in the Valais region of Switzerland. They are a dual-purpose breed, raised for wool as well as meat. Their most notable features – a black face, black ears, black knees and legs. The rest of their coat is stringy, white and unbelievably fluffy; you’d just want to cuddle up with them. But they’re a pretty tough breed.

The Valais Blacknose are a Heritage breed. These domesticated animals are well suited to live in the extreme climatic conditions of the high mountains and are good at grazing on steep, rocky slopes. Each sheep weighs 80 to 100 kilos and produces about 4 kilos of wool a year. Their earliest mention dates back to 1400 A.D., but they were first recognized as a separate breed in 1962.

Valais-Blacknose

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Indian “Lady Tarzan” Talks to Elephants and They Listen

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14-year-old Nirmala Toppo is the heroine of Rourkela, an industrial city located in the Indian state of Odisha, after she talked the elephants that had invaded the settlement into returning to the forest.

The Catholic girl from Jharkland claims she began talking to elephants after her mother was killed by some pachyderms. “I then decided to learn the techniques to drive them away”. The technique Nirmala refers to involves praying and literally talking to the elephants. “First I pray and then talk to the herd. They understand what I say”. By using these simple “tricks”, the girl helped the authorities of Rourkela deal with a herd of elephants that had settled in a residential area of the city. “When the herd entered the city, we tried our best to contain its movement. We managed to make the herd go into the local football stadium, but we were not sure how we could drive them back to the forest. It was a difficult task,” forest official P. K. Dhola said. Out of options and pressed for time, they remembered that there was someone who could help them. “We knew of a tribal girl who lived in Jharkhand, who talked to elephants and was able to drive them back. We called up her father and she arrived along with some other tribal people from her village”.

Nirmala-Toppo

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The Komondor – Nature’s Adorable Living Mop

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The Komondor is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most unique-looking dog breeds in the world. It was mentioned for the first time in the Code of Hammurabi (a set of laws created by the Babylonian king Hammurabi around 1750 BC). However, the Komondor is nowadays considered Hungary’s traditional dog.

The first thing you’ll notice about these dogs is their resemblance to giant mops: indeed, their 2000-cord coat alone weighs around 15 pounds (30 kilos) and they are approximately three feet tall (a bit over 90 centimeters). The Komondor’s cords develop during its first two years of life and their length increases with time, as the coat grows. Thankfully, the dog doesn’t need brushing, but you do have to separate the cords, which may take a while, as they tend to get tangled. If the dog’s natural look is maintained, which means letting its corded coat grow long, you’ll be able to notice its distinctive rectangular shape. These adorable leaving mops were used as livestock guard dogs, and with their corded coat acting as camouflage they were especially useful for guarding sheep. The Komondor breed is believed to have been so efficient at its task that it nearly wiped out all Hungary’s wolf population.

Komodor-Dog

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The Unbelievable Story of Mike the Headless Chicken

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According to Mike the chicken, losing your head is not that bad as it’s thought to be. You better believe it since this one of a kind rooster lived headless for two years and became world-famous for it.

Mike became “the Headless Chicken” on September 10th, 1945 after being decapitated by his owner, Lloyd Olsen from Fruita, Colorado, who wanted to cook him for dinner. During Mike’s attempted decapitation, Llyod hit all the wrong (or right) spots, leaving Mike headless but still alive. Baffled, the owner had a change of heart and decided to nurse the rooster back to health. Mike shook off the upsetting incident and shortly after, started pecking around and grooming his feathers as if nothing had happened. Well, he couldn’t really do all those things because without a head the bird couldn’t eat, drink or see but that didn’t stop him from trying! After feeding him grains and quenching his thirst, Olsen took Mike to the University of Utah where flabbergasted scientists took a close look at the death-defying chicken. According to them, a blood clot prevented Mike from bleeding to death after Olsen’s ax had missed the jugular. As if by miracle, Mike was still left with his left ear and most of his brain stem intact which was enough to keep this feathered critter healthy for the following two years of his life. Apparently chicken’s reflexes lie in their brain stem which explains why Mike still attempted to peck and even sing – gurgle rather, despite his handicap.  Olsen swore to take care of him for the rest of his life, feeding him milk and water with syringes. Mike was doing so well, he even gained weight determining Lloyd to call him a “robust chicken – a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head.”

Mike-the-Headless-Chicken

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Meet Boomer the Dog, a Canine Stuck in a Human Body

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Roll over and shake paws with Boomer the Dog – a man with a canine soul, who often roams the streets of Pittsburgh in a large dog costume, barking at every passing car and digging holes in the backyard. Boomer takes his persona very seriously and wishes everyone would treat him like a real dog.

Born Gary Matthews, Boomer is now a 50-something unemployed computer technician who lives by himself. He wears ears made from his long hair and a collar with a dog tag with his adopted name, Boomer the Dog. He rarely dresses as a human as he loves wearing his full size paper dog costume and getting on all fours. He eats dog food with his snout from a special bowl on the floor, barks, chases cars and digs for bones in the backyard like any other canine would. The guy even sleeps in his own indoor doghouse which, according to him, is much more comfortable than a human bed. Boomer, who resides in Pennsylvania, adopted his canine persona after watching the NBC hit show “Here’s Boomer” when he was only a child. The popular TV series was about a mixed-breed stray called Boomer who travels around helping people in trouble. This idea appealed to Mathews and soon, his fascination with dogs in general as well as with the star of the show took a life of its own and became his ultimate obsession.

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Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Inspires Dog Lover to Take in as Many Spotted Canines as He Can Find

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Nelson Vergara loved the movie “101 Dalmatians” so much that after watching it, he couldn’t help himself from adopting any spotted dog that crossed his path. His love and dedication for Dalmatians is well known throughout his hometown of Santiago, Chile where he is called the “Dalmatian Man,” a name he got from the 42 liver spotted canines living in his backyard. Vergara is so obsessed with the popular breed that he even painted black dots on his white van.

“It all started because of that film,” Vergara says. “That was computer-generated. But I wanted to do the real thing.” But the true reasons behind his passion is to save the millions of stray dogs which roam Chile’s streets every day. The number rises even further during working hours when pet owners leave their dogs outside. These dogs are not very well taken care of either – they are never sprayed for fleas or neutered. Vergara’s intentions are purely humanitarian for he wants to raise awareness about the growing number of stray dogs which the country’s Humane Society considers alarming.

Nelson-Vergara

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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.

dyed-dogs-china

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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.

Snoopybabe

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Lethal Alkaline Lake in Africa Turns Animals into Stone Statues

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When photographer Nick Brandt first visited Lake Natron, in Northern Tanzania, he was shocked by the macabre animal statues he saw aligned across its shoreline. He later found out something even more shocking – those were real animals calcified by the lake’s alkaline water.

Natron, which gives the lake its name, is a naturally occurring compound found in volcanic ash. It’s the same mineral the Egyptians used to preserve their mummies. The lake’s alkalinity is similar to that of ammonia, with a pH between 9 and 10.5, and the temperature of the water can reach 60 °C. No animal can withstand this caustic environment and venturing into the acidic environment is usually fatal. As soon as birds and bats plunge into the waters of lake Natron, the minerals start turning their flesh into stone and preserving them exactly as they were in their final moments. Flamingos sometime use the predator-free salt islands that sometimes form on the lake for nesting, but it’s a risky gamble, as the photos below clearly show. Only invertebrates, a few algae invertebrates and some fish that live near the edges of the lake can survive this environment.

Lake-Natron

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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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