Latvia’s Iconic Blue Cows

Once driven close to extinction, the blue cows of Latvia, a proud symbol of the Baltic country, have been making a comeback over the last couple of decades.

Originally found only on the Baltic coast in the Kurzeme region, cows with light blue or dark ultramarine hides can now be found grazing all over the Latvian countryside. In the Soviet era, they were rendered almost extinct, with only a few specimens surviving the culling. Even back in the year 2000 there were only 18 blue cows in Latvia, but today they number around 1,500. The unique breed is now considered a symbol of national identity.

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The Tamaskan – A Dog Bred to Look Like a Wolf But That Doesn’t Have Any Wolf in Its Lineage

The Tamaskan is a relatively new and rare breed of dog created with the specific purpose of mimicking the looks of a grey wolf without any genetic relation to the wild predator.

In the 1980s, a group of British dog breeders set out on a mission to develop a new dog breed with a wolf-like appearance. To that end, they combined German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Samoyeds, and the Tamaskan was one of the breeds they came up with. However, some experts believe that crossing this new breed with the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog made the Tamaskan what it is today. But while the Tamaskan may look like an actual wolf, or at least a close cousin, genetically speaking, there is no relation between the two species. The Tamaskan is all dog.

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Farmer Makes His Cows Wear VR Goggles to Increase Milk Production

In an attempt to increase the daily milk yield of his cows, a farmer in Turkey is experimenting with virtual reality goggles that make the bovines think they are in the middle of a green pasture in summer.

İzzet Koçak’s family has been rearing cattle on a farm in Aksaray, Turkey for three generations, and the business has endured for so long because they have always tried to keep up with the times. Now it’s Izzet’s turn to make sure the family business does well enough to be passed on to the next generation, and he is going all-in on unconventional solutions. After experimenting with soothing music designed to relax the cows, the Turkish farmer is now experimenting with special VR goggles that allegedly make the animals believe that they are grazing in a sunny pasture, instead of a gloomy indoor farm in the middle of winter.

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Canine Has Such Luscious Hair People Think It’s a Wig

Lola, a 3-year-old cocker spaniel from Leeds, in the UK, has a head full of stunning blonde hair that often stops people in their tracks asking themselves if she’s wearing a wig.

Cocker spaniels are known for their beautiful curly locks, but Lola’s hair is special, even for this breed. Her lucky owner, 22-year-old Rebecca Dobson, says that because the hair on the dog’s head is so long and such a different color to the hair on her body, people assume it’s either fake or that it’s dyed. But it’s actually all-natural, which many are shocked to hear. Not only does Lola’s hair get a lot of attention from dog lovers every time Rebecca takes her out on walks, but some people apparently ask to take photos of her just so they can show their hairdresser how they’d like their own hair done.

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Thai Dog Shelter Gives Paralyzed Strays a Second Chance at Life

The Man That Rescues Dogs, an animal shelter in Chonburi, Thailand, cares for over a thousand stray dogs, including a few paralyzed animals that get to run with the pack again, thanks to the care and attention of the staff.

Michael J. Baines is the man behind The Man That Rescues Dogs. The Swedish national moved to Chonburi in 2002 to open his own restaurant, but quickly noticed the large number of stray dogs roaming through the city, many of which could barely survive on the scraps they found every day. In 2011, Baines became attached to one special stray that started coming to his restaurant every day, and soon noticed that his “patron” wasn’t the only one in need of help. Michael started caring for a handful of strays, then for a few dozen, and before he knew it, he was providing food for almost a hundred canines. In 2017, The Man That Rescues Dogs animal shelter was founded, and in the four years since, the staff there not only rescued over 1,000 dogs, but gave a few paralyzed ones their mobility back.

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Australian Parrots Are Getting Drunk on Fermented Mangoes

Red-winged parrots in Western Australia’s Kimberley region are reportedly “flying under the influence” and acting bizarrely after feasting on fermented mangoes.

We may be putting on another layer of clothes in the northern hemisphere, but Down Under it’s the end of the mango season, and red-winged parrots are reportedly taking full advantage of the last available orange fruits, even if they’re a little overripe. The problem is that mangoes are particularly sugar-rich, and can produce relatively high levels of alcohol as they ferment. Humans are unlikely to consume fruits that have reached a certain fermentation point because they have a mushy texture and a taste that is no longer considered pleasant. But to red-winged parrots, a mango is a mango, even if the ethanol level in it is likely to get them drunk.

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Chianina – The World’s Largest Domesticated Cattle Breed

With a recorded history of at least 2,200 years, the Chianina is among the oldest known cattle breeds. But what it is most famous for is being by far the largest cattle breed on Earth.

Remember Nickers, the giant Australian steer that shocked the world a few years back? You should, photos of this bovine giant towering over normal-sized cattle were everywhere online late in 2018, causing many to wonder if it was some kind of bio-engineered mutant. The only ones that didn’t seem impressed were Italy’s Chianina breeders. They had been producing impressive specimens much larger than Nickers for many generations, so this was nothing special. At the time, they even put out a statement that read “ours is a giant breed, while the Australian steer is an anomaly”.

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Cuban Painted Snails – Probably the World’s Most Beautiful Gastropods

Out of the roughly 1,400 species of land snails that call Cuba home, the six species of the genus Polymita, fondly known as painted snails, are without a doubt the most eye-catching.

When it comes to snail per se, there’s probably no beating the spectacular red-and-black contrast of the Malaysian fire snail, but as far as shells go, Cuba’s painted snails are in a class of their own. Just a look at the stunning swirling colors on their shells, and it’s easy to understand why they are considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful snails. However, this flattering title comes with a downside. Because their dazzling shells are so sought after by collectors, all six species of the genus Polymita are now critically endangered.

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Dozens of Camels Disqualified From Beauty Pageant Over Alleged Botox Injections

In an attempt to keep artificially-enhanced camels out of official beauty pageants, Saudi authorities recently disqualified 43 camels over the use of Botox and other cosmetic procedures.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is one of the several annual events that features a camel beauty pageant. As funny as that might seem to us westerners, it’s no laughing matter in the Middle East. In fact, these sort of competitions is such a big deal that some breeders reportedly resort to Botox injections and other cosmetic touchups to make their animals prettier. The Saudi Press Agency recently reported that over 40 camels were disqualified from this year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival pageant because of Botox injections and other cosmetic procedures.

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This Weird Parasite Is The Only Known Animal That Can Survive Without Oxygen

Henneguya salminicola, a tadpole-like parasite that infects salmon, has a rather unique superpower – it can survive without oxygen.

When examining Henneguya salminicola, researchers noticed something really strange: the microscopic parasite appeared to have no mitochondrial genome. The mitochondria, commonly known as “the powerhouses of the cell”, are organelles that rely on oxygen in order to produce energy. At first, scientists at Tel Aviv University thought it was a mistake, so they ran the analysis again, and confirmed that the parasite had no mitochondrial genome at all, meaning it did not generate energy the way all other known animals do. Although other single-cell organisms, like amoebas and fungi, have also developed the ability to survive in anaerobic environments, no animals – Henneguya salminicola qualifies as one despite having less than 10 cells – had been known to do that until now.

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Vulture Bees Feed on Dead Flesh Rather Than Nectar, Still Produce Sweet Honey

While the vast majority of bee species rely on the pollen and nectar of flowers for nutrients, a few so-called “vulture bees” have evolved to feast on carrion, just like vultures or hyenas.

It was only a few decades ago that entomologists made the rather staggering discovery that not all bees feed on pollen and nectar. Deep in the rainforests of Costa Rica they found three bee species that seemed to prefer dead flesh to flowers. In a recently-published study, scientists revealed that these “vulture bees” had gut bacteria that appeared to thrive in acidic environments, just like the bacteria found in the guts of other carrion-loving creatures, like vultures and hyenas. Another surprising discovery was that, despite their unusual diet, the vulture bees still produced sweet honey.

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Shocking Photos Reveal How Finnish Fur Farms Fatten Up Arctic Foxes For Profit

Finland is Europe’s largest producer of fox fur, but undercover investigations have repeatedly shown that arctic fox farms engage in dubious practices, such as fattening the animals until they become deformed, just to increase their fur yield.

Despite a concentrated effort by PETA and many high-profile celebrities to deter the general public from buying natural animal fur, the fur trade has been booming. Around 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year, and the industry is worth tens of billions of dollars. While China is by far the world’s largest fur producer, thanks in great part to the lack of concrete animal welfare legislation, Finland is the largest fur producer in Europe, and the conditions in its animal farms are worse than you can probably imagine. Millions of arctic foxes are kept in tiny metal cages with no bedding, very little light, and are stuffed with food until they become deformed so that more fur can be harvested from them.

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Secluded New Zealand Waterfall Doubles as a Playground For Young Seals

The picturesque Ohau Waterfall on New Zealand’s Kaikoura coast is the only waterfall in the world that doubles as a seal creche, a place where the young marine mammals can play and socialize without having to worry about predators.

Ohau is a 15-meter-high horsetail waterfall (the water maintains contact with the bedrock as it falls). It’s not the most eye-catching waterfall in the world, but it has something that no other land waterfall has – adorable seals. For one to three months a year, the shallow pool at the bottom of Ohau waterfall acts as a creche for dozens of New Zealand fur seal pups. By playing and interacting with each other, the young seals learn important behaviors and develop social skills, all while putting on an unforgettable spectacle for human visitors.

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Fish With 555 Sharp Teeth Loses 20 of Them Every Day, Grows Them Right Back

Scientists recently found that one of the world’s “toothiest” animals, the Pacific lingcod, keeps its 555 teeth razor-sharp by losing up to 20 of them every day and growing them right back.

The Pacific lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) is a carnivorous fish found in the North Pacific. You couldn’t tell just by looking at it, but this 20-inch (on average) fish has one of the scariest mouths in the world. Instead of the incisors, molars, and canines we’re used to seeing, it has hundreds of nearly microscopic teeth lining its jaws. Their hard palate is also covered in hundreds of tiny spikes, as are the pharyngeal jaws, a set of accessory jaws that the lingcod uses to chew its food the way we use our molars. Now scientists have found that Pacific lingcod keep their hundreds of teeth sharp by losing and then growing dozens of them in a day.

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This 70-Year-Old Albatross Is the World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird

The world’s oldest known wild bird is a Laysan albatross named Wisdom that biologists first identified and banded in 1956. She is now at least 70-years-old and just hatched another chick.

First banded in 1956, by biologist Chandler Robbins, who found her nest near a US navy base on the Midway Atoll that the world’s largest colony of albatross calls home, Wisdom has now outlived the man who discovered her, as well as all her male mates. Although cockatoos in captivity have been known to live nearly 100 years, for wild birds the odds of living over seven decades are extremely slim. Predators, food scarcity and, more recently, plastic waste, are all life-threatening factors that wild albatross deal with on a regular basis. And, yet, despite having the odds stacked against her, Wisdom has managed to live longer than any wild bird known to man.

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