Leopards

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August 8, 2019

Spot on for International Cat Day

One of the smallest of the big cats, the leopard is known for its shy personality, athleticism, and its spots, called rosettes. You can find leopards in many parts of Africa and Asia, but the subspecies pictured here roams the semiarid terrain of Sub-Saharan Africa. Skilled climbers and predominantly solo travelers, leopards can often be found draped along the branch of an acacia or other tall tree. They climb trees to hunt, but also to eat—they don’t like to share food, and they like to eat slowly.

Many African leopards live on wildlife preserves to protect them from overhunting and habitat loss. Botswana’s Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, where our photo was taken, protects the solitary leopard and its cousin, the more sociable lion. Conservation efforts like these are celebrated each August 8 on International Cat Day.

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What a Sight!

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August 3, 2019

Cetacean Saturday

The US National Marine Sanctuaries system is a collection of 15 (and counting) protected marine environments, similar to our national parks. From August 2 through 4, the Marine Sanctuaries are hosting a ‘get into your sanctuary’ campaign, to highlight the work they do. We’re joining them by showing this humpback whale breaching the waters off the coast of Maui. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is where many of these school-bus-sized whales gather in winter months to breed. But we’ll fly instead of swim there.

What Do Ya Know?

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July 25, 2019

Jane’s Carousel delights

National Merry-Go-Round Day brings us to the Brooklyn waterfront, home of Jane’s Carousel, a merry-go-round that’s been delighting riders for nearly a century. Its story starts in 1922, an era of speakeasies and flappers and a booming time in carousel history, when the rides were a symbol of a community’s prosperity. Jane’s Carousel was built in Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, a steel city.

Like many carousels produced in that time, the ride eventually fell into disrepair. It was damaged in a fire and Idora Park closed to the public in 1984. That’s when New York couple Jane and David Walentas bought it for $385,000 at auction and shipped the carousel to Brooklyn for a waterfront restoration project. The carousel was painstakingly restored over a period of 27 years—a project overseen by Jane herself. It’s now housed in a glass ‘jewel box’ pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The cost of the entire project totaled $15 million—a testament to the love that Americans have for these nostalgic rides.

Worth a Smile?

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July 24, 2019

Can you see the family resemblance?

Honestly, we’re not sure who decided that July 24 was Cousins Day, but we’re all for it—and these meerkats look like they are too. A clan (also called a mob, gang, or manor) usually contains about 20 or 30 meerkats, but some extended families have 50 or more. Females can detect the odor of their kin and use it to avoid inbreeding. They’re native to southern Africa, including the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, which is where this clan was photographed.

Cousins Day is about celebrating the family bonds between first cousins and even distant ones. You probably know that your first cousins are the children of your aunts and uncles, but what about their kids? They’re not your second cousins—they’re your first cousins once removed (one generation removed). Your children and the children of your first cousins are second cousins. Got it?