TIME animals

Treat Yourself to This Video of Kittens Fighting in a Tiny Boxing Ring

Happy Caturday!

The only thing cuter than a kitten is two kittens, and the only thing cuter than two kittens is two kittens duking it out in a tiny boxing ring. Thus, we recommend taking one minute to view the above video, which features just that. Trust us.

The video was uploaded to the America’s Funniest Home Videos YouTube channel Saturday, but it’s already been on Facebook for a few days, where it has racked up nearly 3 million views.

Now, we just have to wait until cat wrestling becomes an officially recognized sport.

TIME animals

Study Shows How Even Frogs Make Irrational Mating Choices

frogs mating
Getty Images

"In some in cases irrational decisions can be looked at as the better way to have gone"

Give a female frog two potential mating options—an attractive frog and an unattractive frog—and she’ll pick the attractive frog nearly every time. But all bets are off if you throw in a third, less attractive frog, new research shows.

Researchers evaluated mating calls from male túngara frog for the new study, published this week in the journal Science. The finding adds to a growing body of research suggesting that mating choices don’t follow rational expectations.

Male frogs produce a sound to advertise themselves to potential mates. Female frogs typically responded best to longer calls made at a lower frequency when choosing between two male options. But when researchers added a third option to the mix that performed worse on both metrics, the female frog would often choose the intermediate option.

Study author Amanda Lea, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, likened the scenario, known as the “decoy effect,” to the way in which a consumer might behave when purchasing a new car. A customer may opt to buy a cheap car with poor fuel efficiency instead of a more expensive car with good fuel efficiency. But the costumer might reconsider when a salesmen presents a third option that is the most expensive and also has good fuel efficiency. The customer won’t choose the third option, but he might instead choose the second most expensive.

Read more Bees Are Losing Their Habitat Because of Climate Change

“Whatever you choose as the most important trait to begin with should also be the most important trait if you introduce a third option,” Lea said. “For some reason, adding a third option leads you to evaluate the first two and reverse your preferences.”

But the unexpected result doesn’t necessarily mean that the frogs made the wrong choice. Additional analysis might reveal why picking the third option may in fact be better for a frog, according to Lea.

“In some in cases irrational decisions can be looked at as the better way to have gone,” Lea said. “Going with your intuition is often better. It just depends on how you weigh your costs and benefits.”

TIME animals

Here’s a Raccoon Swimming in a Pool Because You Deserve to See a Cute Thing

His brother looks on anxiously

You probably don’t hear the word “raccoon” and immediately think “awwwww,” but trust us, these two raccoon brothers are really cute.

The raccoon named Willie decides to get into a swimming pool and enjoy a nice, refreshing dip. His brother Waylon, however, appears to be extremely nervous about this and tries several times to rescue Willie. He’s clearly too scared to get into the pool himself, so he just hangs out by the edge and tries to reach Willie whenever he gets close enough. Eventually, Willie decides he doesn’t want Waylon to be so worried anymore, because he is a deeply compassionate creature, so he decides to get out.

The main question raised by this video: who has raccoons as pets?

(h/t Mashable)

Read next: What’s This? Oh Nothing, Just a Raccoon Hitching a Ride on an Alligator

TIME animals

Watch a Pug’s Emotional Reunion With Her Owner

Pawsitively adorable

The police department for Essex County in England has released heartwarming video of a pug reuniting with its owner after it went missing and was believed to be stolen. Burglary investigations in the Harlow area resulted in three arrests, but a woman suspected of stealing the pug was released without charge because “there was insufficient evidence to proceed,” according to a statement by the Essex Police statement.

When a cop walked the pug named Lola on a leash toward her owner Kate Witham, the dog could not wait to jump up into her arms and lick her face — a happy ending to a stressful ordeal.

 

 

TIME animals

This Man’s Enthusiasm About Sea Lions Is Truly Infectious

"They're sleek ... like a torpedo through the water!"

If you’re feeling kinda meh about everything today, we highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the BBC’s Steve Backshall as he encounters a group of sea lions in California’s Monterey Bay. Backshall is just so, so, so excited about the creatures he has encountered, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Pretty soon, you’ll be feeling totally invigorated and excited about life.

“This is a truly unbelievable spectacle,” Backshall shouts gleefully. “Surrounded by California sea lions!”

He then gets a little defensive—but still totally joyful—about how incredible sea lions are. “These creatures are completely transformed here in their underwater world. They can appear to be clumsy when they’re on land but here, they are agile, graceful and zip through the water using those extraordinary wing-like front flippers.”

Seriously, Backshall just can’t stop telling us how incredible sea lions are. “They’re sleek … like a torpedo through the water!”

The video is a preview of the next episode of PBS’ Big Blue Live, a program showcasing the marine life of Monterey Bay. We recommend watching the episode, which airs Sunday at 8pm EST, to see Backshall declare sea lions the “absolute masters of the big blue.”

(h/t Jezebel)

TIME animals

Grumpy Cat’s Getting a Wax Figure and Of Course She’s Mad About It

It will debut at Madame Tussauds San Francisco later this year

Poor Grumpy Cat had to tolerate all the measuring and fitting it takes to become a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. The museum just announced that the famous feline will be immortalized in wax at its San Francisco location, Business Wire reports.

In the clip below, you’ll see Grumpy Cat begrudgingly sit for the Madame Tussauds sculptors, who clearly want to make sure they get the wax figure just right.

Grumpy Cat’s figure will be “an animatronic with five different movements” and will be unveiled at the San Francisco museum later this year. After a short stay there, the figure will then tour the remaining five locations around the country. Until then, keep an eye on the Madame Tussauds Instagram for updates:

TIME animals

National Zoo’s Surviving Newborn Panda Is a Boy

Twin Giant Pandas Born At Smithsonian's National Zoo
Handout—Getty Images In this handout provided by the Smithsonian's National Zoo, one of two newborn Giant Pandas born August 22 is cared for by a member of the panda team at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute August 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The male cub is doing well and growing, zookeepers say

(WASHINGTON) — The National Zoo’s panda parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, have another son.

The zoo announced Friday morning that the surviving panda cub is male and the son of the zoo’s male panda Tian Tian.

Mei Xiang gave birth to twins Saturday, but the smaller cub died Wednesday. Officials say that smaller cub was also a male fathered by Tian Tian.

The cub’s cause of death hasn’t been determined. Keepers say the larger cub is doing well and growing.

Tian Tian is the father of Mei Xiang’s other cubs, daughter Bao Bao and son Tai Shan. During this year’s panda breeding, Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated with semen from Tian Tian and a panda in China that was deemed a good genetic match.

TIME animals

Neglected Horses Had 3-Foot-Long Hooves, Rescuers Say

Days End Farm Horse Rescue

The horses were found with 3-foot hooves

Rescuers discovered two emaciated horses in at least three feet of waste at a neglected farm in Maryland. The Humane Society of Washington County was alerted of the horses last Friday and rescuers took them to the Days End Farm Horse Rescue to recover, according to WUSA in Washington.

The animals reportedly had 3 foot hooves that had to be partially removed in order to transport them to the Farm. According to WUSA, the horses had likely not received medical care in 15 years.

The horses are reportedly recovering slowly, but the neglect was so severe they have to be careful.

[WUSA]

Read next: This is What Killed Knut the Polar Bear

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TIME

This is What Killed Knut the Polar Bear

Vanity Fair Knut the Polar Bear on the cover of Vanity Fair

The four-year-old bear died in March 2011 after suffering an apparent seizure

(BERLIN) — The sudden death four years ago of Knut, the celebrity Berlin Zoo polar bear who ended up on the cover of Vanity Fair, shocked his fans around the world and posed a riddle for veterinarians anxious to keep other animals from suffering the same fate.

What killed Knut?

The answer turned out to be even more useful than scientists could have hoped for.

Researchers in Germany said Thursday they have found the cause of Knut’s untimely demise — and the discovery may help raise awareness of a condition that affects humans, possibly saving lives.

The four-year-old bear died in March 2011 after suffering an apparent seizure and collapsing into his enclosure’s pool in front of hundreds of visitors at the Berlin Zoo. His short life came as a surprise — polar bears can live for up to 20 years in the wild and sometimes longer in captivity.

A necropsy quickly established that Knut suffered from encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. Initially, scientists thought the inflammation had been caused by an infection, but that theory was later discounted.

“At the beginning of 2014, we had basically exhausted every option,” said Alex Greenwood of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, which led much of the initial research into Knut’s death. Greenwood said his team shelved their samples, figuring it might take decades to figure out why Knut died.

Then they got a call from Harald Pruess, a neurologist at Berlin’s Charite hospital and a researcher at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Pruess said he noticed that Knut’s case showed similarities to some of his human patients who suffered from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks its own brain cells, was only discovered in humans eight years ago and never previously found in animals.

“It was a bit of a long shot, but after six or eight weeks we saw that it really was that,” Greenwood told The Associated Press.

Had Knut’s keepers known what their star attraction was suffering from, he likely could have been treated, said Greenwood.

Humans with the condition are given cortisone, a drug that suppresses the immune system until the body can recover. In most cases they are able to return to a normal life, though some suffer from memory problems and have difficulty concentrating.

Pruess, the neurologist, said Knut’s case may help raise awareness of what is still a relatively unknown illness in humans. The disease, which affects at least one in 200,000 people each year and often involves sudden behavioral changes, can be detected with a simple procedure.

Greenwood said Knut’s misfortune — he might have survived if he hadn’t fallen into the water — was a stroke of luck for scientists.

“It’s just for us incredible that the most famous bear in the world dies and it turns out to be the first description of this disease,” said Greenwood. “The knowledge gained from his death should benefit both human medicine, because people will know the Knut disease and be more aware of it, and animal medicine.”

Their research was published Thursday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

TIME animals

9 Science-Backed Reasons to Own a Dog

Woman sitting with dog on jetty, rear view
Getty Images

You're more social with a dog

Loyal, protective, and always happy to see you, the dog has been a human companion for more than 18,000 years, making it one of the first domesticated animals in history.

Don’t just take our word for it.

Scientists have proof that dogs make us laugh more than cats, keep us more active than the average human companion, and even reduce our chances of depression.

So, if you need a little more convincing, or you need to convince someone else in the household, here are the cold, hard facts for why you should own a dog.

1. Dogs Make Us Laugh

People who own dogs laugh more, according to a study published in the journal Society & Animals. Researchers asked people who owned dogs, cats, both, or neither to record how often they laughed over the course of a day. Those who owned just dogs and both dogs and cats recorded laughing more than the other two groups.

2. Dogs Are Loyal

The origin of today’s domesticated house dog reaches back to between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago, when they evolved from wolves. Wolves are known for living in packs and developing strong bonds between pack members. It’s this pack behavior that’s what makes today’s dogs so loyal.

Stephen Zawistowski, a science adviser at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, explains that dogs see their human owners as fellow members of their pack and, therefore, form the same close bond with their owners as they would with their canine brothers and sisters.

3. We’re More Social With a Dog

In the U.K., a team of scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol found that UK residents with dogs were more likely to encounter other dogs and dog owners than people who did not own a dog. This makes sense, since dog owners are more likely to head out of the house on walks and run into other dog owners on their own strolls.

Moreover, the average American is more likely to own a dog than the other common house pet, the cat. That’s more people to converse with about annoying dog hair.

4. Dogs Keep Us Healthy

Dogs might even protect us from poor health. Children born into households with a dog have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies, the reason being dust.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year showed that when exposed to dust from households where dogs were permitted inside and outside, mice developed an altered community of microbes in their gut that protect against allergens. It was reported that these microbes could be what’s protecting young children from developing allergens in households with dogs.

5. We’re More Active With Dogs

Obesity is a major concern today, so it’s important to get regular exercise. Researchers at Michigan State University reported in 2011 that 60% of dog owners who took their pets for regular walks met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise.

Moreover, elderly people who walk their dogs actually have a more regular exercise routine and are more physically fit than the elderly who walk with other people, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services in 2010.

6. Dogs Save Lives

Dogs are not a cat’s best friend, but earlier this year one lucky cat in Florida was saved by a blood transfusion from, you guessed it, a dog. Some dogs have a universal blood-donor type, just like some humans, and when no cat blood was around for Buttercup, the veterinarian used what was on hand, which reportedly saved the cat’s life.

Dogs can also help humans by acting as an early warning system for patients who suffer from seizures. Trained dogs can sense the onset of a seizure up to 15 minutes before it occurs and will bark when this happens, which then warns the patient to sit so to prevent injury from falling down, for example. How dogs know when a seizure is coming is still unknown.

7. Dogs Give Us a Sense of Purpose

Dogs are great companions for anyone, but especially for the elderly. In a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, elderly who owned a dog reported feeling more satisfied with their social, physical, and emotional state than those without a dog.

8. Dogs Give Us Confidence

In another study, participants obtained a dog and were assessed after 10 months with their new canine companion. In general, the participants reported a higher sense of self-esteem, improved exercise habits, and less fear of crime.

9. Dogs Genuinely Make Us Happy

Just the simple act of making eye contact with your furry friend can release the feel-good chemical called oxytocin. In a study that measured oxytocin levels from two groups of dog owners, the group that was instructed not to look directly at their dog had lower oxytocin levels than the other group that made regular eye contact.

Another study found that dog owners who relied on their dogs for social fulfillment reported that “they were less depressed, less lonely, had higher self-esteem, were happier, and tended to experience less perceived stress.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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