TIME

There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

Bistro

FINALLY

For too long, humans have been reaping all the rewards of facial recognition software. But no longer. Entrepreneur Mu-Chi Sung is bringing the advanced technology to cats — and while it might not help them find love online due to “facial compatibility,” or be better targeted in malls, it will help them maintain their goal weight.

Sung is the co-founder of Bistro, a smart cat feeder that has the power to recognize your feline’s face in order to distribute and then track its food intake. It can also tell your cats’ faces apart to prevent jerky tendencies of stealing the food that is rightly their brethren’s.

But the endeavor, by Sung’s Taiwanese company 42ARK, isn’t for cat vanity’s sake.

“I have three cats, and how I fed them was I put the food in the bowl and had no idea what they’re eating,” says Sung, who didn’t realize his cat Momo stopped eating food due to illness until he found her dehydrated and paralyzed on the floor of his house. The jaundiced cat was suffering from pancreatitis, and while things were looking dire for Momo, the amputation of her two rear legs saved her life.

Momo the cat Bistro

While Sung assured us that Momo is now fine and back to playing with laser pointer, an early indication of eating abnormalities would have inspired him to seek medical help faster. This uses a similar ideology as Whistle, a Fitbit of sorts for dogs, that tracks their daily activity and sleep patterns.

“A cat doesn’t speak for themselves, that’s why we need Bistro to speak for them,” Sung says. “With Bistro you get notified [via the app] if a change in feeding occurs.”

A scale eating platform tracks cats’ weight and owners can also watch live streams of their cats eating. You know, if they’re into that kind of thing. “Not many people will do that,” Sung says, greatly underestimating obsessive cat owners everywhere.

Bistro

Bistro launched an Indiegogo campaign Tuesday to bring the product to market. Indiegogo users can buy it for a special price of $179, although Sung thinks it will cost $249 in stores.

This isn’t the first attempt to incorporate cat facial recognition in every day life. The image recognition company Quantum Picture found a way to use image recognition to let the company cat inside through the pet door only if she wasn’t carrying an animal in her mouth. And in 2010, Panasonic System Networks updated FaceU so it could recognize pets’ individual faces to tag in group photos.

Last year, a company called PiP launched an Indiegogo campaign to use facial recognition to reunite lost cats (and dogs) with their owners, although it only made $2,746 of its $20,000 goal. Bistro hopes to raise $100,000 to bring the product to market, and it raised almost half its goal in half a day.

Sung has worked in image recognition for years and thinks that applying it to cats is the next step in the technology. He says that 42ARK is even thinking of using facial recognition on cats’ litter box habits, although he admits that it’s “a little bit creepy.”

TIME viral

Little Girl Breaks Down Crying When Her Parents Surprise Her With a Puppy

Best birthday present ever

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When this eight-year-old girl closed her eyes and held out her hands to receive a birthday gift from her parents, she had no idea she’d be getting a dog. This surprise, it turns out, caused her to break down in an emotional fit of happy tears. She’s just so overwhelmed and thrilled to have her very own cute puppy! We’d probably react the same way if someone gave us a puppy right now.

TIME animals

You’ll Never Know Joy Like This Crab Chowing Down on a Plate of Noodles

He basically dances as he eats

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You probably never thought of crabs as cute creatures, which is really quite understandable, but this video could potentially alter your views. Watch as this pet crab just goes to TOWN on a big ol’ plate of Korean noodles. He really seems to appreciate every bite. Maybe we could all learn something from him about appreciating what we have and savoring every moment of our lives.

(h/t First We Feast)

TIME animals

Survival of the Sneakiest: Animal Smuggling Attempts at Airport Security

Airport security is perhaps the world's harshest, most competitive ecosystem, with the latest species — 67 live giant African snails — intercepted Monday at the Los Angeles International Airport. Take a look at some shocking attempts at wildlife smuggling, a dangerous and notorious practice that often results in animals dying from inhumane or improper care

TIME animals

This Dog Surfing Competition is Totally Gnarly

Get ready for some ruff waves

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What’s cooler than surfing? Surfing with your dog. And not just riding the same board as your pet, but pushing your pup to ride a wave on their own. That’s what the dogs in Unleashed, the largest dog surfing competition the U.S., do, and they rock at it.

Hanging 20, the dogs perch on top of the boards as the waves sweep toward the beach. When the wave collapses, the canine surfers hop off, no harm done (some are wearing adorable life jackets, just in case).

But are the dogs scared to go on the surfboards? Are their owners forcing them into unwanted roles as surf bros? Eric Felland, owner of the champion of the large dog heat, tells The Guardian that his dog “loves what he does.” Fellow owner James Wall says “it’s hard to say it’s cruel; some dogs like it some dogs don’t.” One thing’s for sure—it’s great for everyone watching.

TIME animals

Not Just Penguins: Many Animals Partner With Same Sex

A homosexual penguin couple from New York’s Central Park Zoo are back in the news now that a book about their relationship has been banned in Singapore. Keith Wagstaff looks at the core question about homosexual behavior in animals.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME U.S. Department of Agriculture

Giant African Snails Seized at Los Angeles Airport

Giant Snails Seized
This photo provided by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows a person using two hands to hold a single snail from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014. Officials said that the 35 pounds of snails arrived from Nigeria along with paperwork stating they were for human consumption. Greg Bartman—AP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated a package of 67 giant snails from Nigeria that inspectors seized from the Los Angeles National Airport because the snails are prohibited in the U.S.

(LOS ANGELES) — Inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized an unusually slimy package — 67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa.

The snails — which are prohibited in the U.S. — arrived from Nigeria and were being sent to a person in San Dimas, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border protection.

The snails were confiscated July 1 and a sample was sent the next day to a federal mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them as a prohibited species, Harty said.

The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated the snails after they were inspected, Harty said. The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.

The snails are also agricultural pests, said Maveeda Mirza, the CBP program manager for agriculture.

“These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop they can get to,” Mirza said.

The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said. She said authorities are investigating why a single person would want so many snails.

“We’re investigating what happened, but it doesn’t seem like there was smuggling involved. When someone doesn’t know a commodity is prohibited under USDA regulations there is usually no punishment,” she said.

Although the agency has found one or two snails that may have accidentally gotten into a traveler’s luggage in Los Angeles, this is the first time that they have confiscated the snails in such a large quantity, Mirza said.

TIME animals

This Guy Went to Alaska and Caught a 482-Pound Halibut

An old man and the sea

After a 40-minute struggle, 76-year-old Californian Jack McGuire recently caught the world’s largest halibut, the Associated Press reports.

McGuire’s monster fish weighed a whopping 482 pounds and was 95 inches long, smashing the previous record set in 1996 (a very respectable 459lbs). Unfortunately his catch will go unrecognized by the International Game Fish Association, because McGuire’s boat captain shot the fish before it was brought onboard to keep it from flopping about and hurting someone.

According to the AP, McGuire “applauded the decision” to kill the fish despite his disqualification from record-holder status.

TIME animals

WATCH: A Ridiculous Number of Hummingbirds Just, Like, Hanging Out

I won't make an Angry Birds pun for you, dear reader

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I’ve never seen so many cute things at once. Have you?

TIME animals

Cheetah and Dog BFFs Celebrate Their First Birthday With a Giant Popsicle

Cathy Burkey / Dallas Zoo

Paws-itively precious.

The Dallas Zoo hosted a first birthday party for its cheetah Winspear and black labrador Amani. Born three days apart, the two animals have been inseparable since they were two months old. To stay cool in the Texas heat, the two savored a red-white-and-blue popsicle made of “30 gallons of water, 2% milk, and low-sodium chicken broth for flavoring.”

Cathy Burkey / Dallas Zoo

(h/t Dallas News)

MORE: Dallas Gorilla Will Get Some Therapy

WATCH: Do Not Bug This Gorilla

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