New York Subway Workers Run “Rate My Rat” Photo Contest

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For those of you who have used the subway in New York, the sight of rats must be quite common. Those pesky rodents are spotted quite frequently on subway tracks and platforms. Apparently, subway workers have had enough of this and want their workplace to be completely free of rats. And they’ve come up with a totally unique idea to accomplish this – a rat photo contest.

New York subway workers are holding a photo contest – for the “nastiest” shot of a rodent. Subway commuters are being urged to click pictures of the rats they see every day and upload them to the website http://www.ratfreesubways.com. The grand prize is a monthly transit pass. The site was created by the largest union in the city, the Transport Workers Union Local 100. The winning photograph is to be selected by popular opinion. Visitors to the website are able to vote for the most repulsive picture on the ‘Rate my Rat’ section. They have five options to choose from – Handsome, Cute, Plain, Ugly and Beastly. Most of the rat-pictures have been rated between 3 and 5, while a few actually have been called cute.

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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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Ferret Legging – A Truly Bizarre Animal Sport

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Most people couldn’t stand something as small as a cockroach up their trousers. And then there are the brave ferret leggers who endure not one, but two fully grown adult ferrets trapped in their pants. The weird sport, called Ferret Legging, is a test of endurance or just the ability to “have your tool bitten and not care”.

Also known as ferret-down-trousers and put ‘em down, the rules of the sport are pretty tight. Competitors have two ferrets placed inside their trousers, which are tied firmly at the ankles and belted up at the waist, thereby eliminating any point of escape for the furry creatures. The competitor then stands before judges, enduring the misery of the razor-sharp claws and teeth of the ferrets. Other rules state that competitors cannot be drunk and the ferrets must not be sedated. Also, the ferrets must have a full set of teeth that have not been blunted or filed. The man who stands the longest, wins.

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Buffalo Body-Painting at Unique Traditional Festival

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What started as a means to ward off intruders, is now a full-blown festival. The people of Jiangcheng County, China’s Yunnan Province, have their bulls painted and decorated by artists for a major event every year. The bulls are displayed in a riot of colors, painted with a variety of themes.

Traditionally, the bulls were painted by the Hani people of China in the belief that the practice would protect their village, mainly by preventing tigers from wandering into their homes. Of course, the threat of tigers and other man-eaters has reduced drastically in modern times, but the festival continues to be celebrated with much enthusiasm. The China-Laos-Vietnam Bull Painting Festival, as it is called, had 48 participating teams this year. The paraded bulls were hardly recognizable, covered in colors like bright blue, gold, yellow and red. But the paintings were far from abstract. The bulls served as a canvas for some real artistic talent, landscapes, portraits, and intricate patterns adorned their otherwise brown or white skin. Even the horns were covered with paint.

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Taiwan Trades Lottery Tickets for Dog Poop

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This is perhaps one of the most innovative methods ever employed to keep a city clean. The authorities in New Taipei City, northern Taiwan, promised the citizens a  free lottery ticket, in exchange for each bag of dog poop they collect from the street and hand over.

It has become a common sight in the city now, several citizens cleaning up the streets. The competition was started in early August, and so far 14,000 bags of dog waste have been handed in. In fact, the response to the campaign has been beyond the expectations of the city’s environment protection bureau, according to one official. The top prize of the lottery draw was gold worth T$ 60,000 (US $2000). The second and third prize were T$18,000 and T$12,000 respectively.

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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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Crocodile Gets Beauty Treatment for Annual Mating Season

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Businesses would go any lengths to gain publicity. Even if it means attempting to beautify a crocodile. A day spa in Darwin, Australia has had its employees do just that.

As unbelievable as it may seem, this croc-makeover has happened for real. Or so the pictures suggest. The Parap Day Spa recently managed to acquire the saltwater creature from a crocodile research center in Darwin. According to the spa, their staff then spent hours exfoliating the crocodile, giving it a mani-pedi and a proper bikini wax. A few pictures reveal a limp crocodile surrounded by a bunch of enthusiastic women, attacking it with gloves, waxing strips and nail-polish.

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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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Florida Gator Expert Opens Hug-an-Alligator Business

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Ever wished you could go up to an alligator and just give him a great big hug? Well, thanks to a nutty gator expert from Florida, now you can.

Gator Man Mike has recently moved from the Everglades to Naples, Florida and decided to give people from his new home the chance to really bond with alligators. The man is charging locals and tourists visiting Tin City $5 for the chance to share  a hug and get their picture taken with one of his pet alligators, and believe it or not business seems to be going ok. Although gators have a velcro nozzle on their snouts to make sure they don’t decide to take a bite out of paying customers, city officials did have some safety concerns and only allowed Mike to open his wacky business after he got a $1 million liability insurance.

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World’s Most Expensive Sheep Is Worth over $2 Million

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This whole economic boom is just making China weirder with each passing day. Just last week I read they inaugurated their first gold-dispensing machine and now the country’s big bosses are paying millions of dollars for sheep.

Dolan sheep, to be exact, a rare breed which according to breeders has very special features that make it the latest collector’s item for China’s rich businessmen. They have a distinctive curved nose, long floppy ears and twin tails, but the thing that really makes them special is there are just around 1,000 of them left in the world. Dolan were originally bred from sheep in Kashgar, north-west China, to grow more quickly and yield more meat, the priced breed has since become purely ornamental. It reaches maturity and weighs over 200 lbs at just six months, but no one is thinking about sacrificing them for meat anymore.

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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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Self-Taught Artist Creates Incredibly Detailed Wildlife Scratchboard Art

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Self-educated artist Cristina Penescu creates wildlife-themed scratchboard artworks that look so real it’s hard to believe they’re not photographs.

It’s not often I get to cover the works of fellow Romanians, but I guess that’s what makes it so special. Cristina Penescu was born in 1988, in Bucharest, but her family relocated to California when she was only a year old. Her love for art and nature began during her early childhood and stuck with her through her youth, but it was only in August 2009, at the age of 20 that she started focusing on promoting her wildlife artworks and making a name for herself in the art community.

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Artist Writes Detailed Portraits of Dogs

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Florida-based artist Stephen Kline has created a new artistic technique that allows him to draw detailed portraits of dogs, using only text. For example he can draw the portrait of a poodle just by writing the word ‘poodle’ a few hundred times. You’d think writing the same  word so many times would eventually get boring even for the most patient artist, but Stephen has so far created hundreds of these brilliant litographs of every dog breed you can think of.

Stephen Kline introduced his Lines of Language technique in 1999, and since then he’s gained thousands of art-collecting fans from 20 different countries and every state in the US. His litographs have so far generated tens of thousands of dollars for dog rescue centers around the world.

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