TIME animals

Food Festival Hosts Squirrel Burger Challenge

Hey, they're protein

Squirrel burgers might be the next big trend for foodies.

This year, the annual Forest Showcase Food and Drink Festival in southern England hosted ‘The Extraordinary Squirrel Burger Challenge” on Oct. 4.

Participants were given a quarter of a pound of minced grey squirrel and additional ingredients and spices, according to AFP. The winner was a “Cajun Melt” followed by “Chicken of the Tree Surprise.”

“We have been told that grey squirrel tastes like the dark meat on a chicken and that a pair of mature squirrels provide about the same amount of meat as a medium sized chicken” said an event coordinator in a statement. “It is the ‘free range chicken of the tree.”

According to the coordinators, squirrels may be a sustainable food source.

TIME animals

Is a Chimpanzee a ‘Legal Person’? Court Set to Decide

Tarongas Animals Receive Christmas Treats
Lisa Maree Williams—Getty Images

Could determine if a chimpanzee has a legal status akin to personhood, thereby making its captivity unlawful

A New York appeals court will begin hearing a landmark case on Wednesday that could determine if a chimpanzee has a legal status akin to personhood, thereby making its captivity unlawful.

Animal rights lawyer Steven Wise filed the lawsuit in 2013 on behalf of Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee kept by a private owner in upstate New York. The lawsuit alleged that keeping the chimpanzee in captivity was unlawful, because a chimpanzee was not merely a possession of the owner, but rather “a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned.”

As such, the case called upon the court to grant Tommy the status of “legal personhood,” thereby extending the fundamental human right of habeas corpus, or the right to not be unlawfully imprisoned, to a primate.

The case grabbed headlines, including TIME’s, for its ambitious attempt to blur a longstanding legal distinction between humans and animals. The organization pressing the case, the Nonhuman Rights Project, has stated that the case will not end with Tommy: “Our goal is, very simply, to breach the legal wall that separates all humans from all nonhuman animals.”

TIME animals

Captive Orcas Can Learn How to Speak Dolphin, Researchers Say

Orca Whale
Amanda Fletcher—Flickr RF/Getty Images

One of few species capable of learning new vocal sounds

Captive orcas who live with dolphins are capable of imitating their sounds, joining an exclusive list of species that are capable of modifying their voices or learning new vocalizations, according to a new study published this month in Acoustical Society of America.

Researchers analyzed 10 captive orcas, seven who lived with only other orcas, and three who lived with only bottlenose dolphins. They discovered that the three orcas who interacted with only dolphins made dolphin-like whistles, clicks and buzzes, while the other seven orcas communicated almost entirely with typical whale pulses. The findings build on two-year-old research that showed that dolphins could similarly mimic sounds of whales and other animals, according to Science Magazine.

Only a few species are capable of vocal learning, a group that includes humans, birds, elephants, bats, seals and dolphins, along with now the orcas, whose acoustic imitation abilities previously had been studied only anecdotally.

TIME animals

Reindeer Radiation Levels Unusually High This Year

Reindeer Caravan in Tromso, Norway
Getty Images

Blame mushroom season

Rudolph’s nose might be glowing just a little bit brighter this year, for all the wrong reasons: radiation levels in Norwegian reindeer sharply rose this year.

According to a Norwegian environmental report, scientists in September observed 8,200 becquerel (a unit of measurement for radioactivity) of Celsium-137 per kilo in reindeer, a noticeable jump from 2012, when reindeer in the same area had only 1,500 becquerel of Celsium-137 per kilo. (600 becquerel per kilo is the safe limit for sheep meat.)

“This year is extreme,” Lavrans Skuterud, researcher at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told Norway’s The Local.

But Skuterud knows the source of the radiation levels: mushrooms. Specifically, the gypsy mushroom (Cortinarius caperatus), which can absorb a lot of radiation lingering in that part of the globe nearly 30 years after the Chernobyl disaster.

“This year, there has been extreme amounts of mushroom,” he said. “In addition, the mushroom season has lasted for a long time. And the mushroom has grown very high up on the mountains.”

[The Local]

TIME animals

Man’s Wildest Dreams Come True as He’s Covered With a Pile of Pug Puppies

None of us will ever experience this level of joy

Quick: close your eyes and envision the word “paradise.” What comes to mind? A long walk on a white sand beach, perhaps? An autumn meadow covered in bright orange and yellow leaves, a pumpkin spice latte in your hand and Ugg boots on your feet? Paradise can mean many things for many people, but for this guy, paradise means lying down and letting a bunch of pug puppies cavort all over him.

Watch as he giggles in pure, unadulterated delight as the group of pugs — which some sources have called a grumble of pugs (!!!) — romp around, showering this lucky, lucky man in hugs and affection. This definitely redefines the word “paradise.”

TIME animals

Bear Desperately Trying to Keep Summer Alive Goes for a Swim in Somebody’s Backyard Pool

It's time to just embrace autumn, silly bear

Most of us have accepted that summer is over, and we’re now welcoming fall by wrapping ourselves in sweaters, tucking our feet into our favorite Ugg boots and sipping on pumpkin spice lattes. But not this bear. Determined to keep the spirit of summer alive, this bear decided to go for a swim in somebody’s backyard pool.

The creature managed to break a fence and make its way into Dominic Lombardi’s yard in Hanover Township, Penn., a local ABC affiliate reports.

This is not the first bear to help itself to a little pool time. Last month, a black bear in southern California pulled the same shenanigans to help cool off amid searing temperatures. Must be a new trend.

TIME Opinion

New Adam Levine Video Confuses Violence and Love

RAINN released a statement slamming the stalker-fantasy music video

Updated October 2, 2:00 pm E.T.

In the new Maroon 5 video, ‘Animals,’ Adam Levine plays a hairnet-wearing, meat-hugging, blood-drenched stalker of his real-life wife, model Behati Prinsloo. But don’t worry ladies, he’s still totally sexy! Take a look:

Wait, the whole stalker thing doesn’t do it for you? You’re not into a guy who hugs a blood-drenched cow carcass while he imagines having sex with you? Well, you’re not alone. RAINN thinks it’s horrible too.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network slammed the video Wednesday for “trivializing” stalking, warning that it could romanticize dangerous behaviors. “Maroon 5’s video for ‘Animals’ is a dangerous depiction of a stalker’s fantasy — and no one should ever confuse the criminal act of stalking with romance,” RAINN VP of Communications Katherine Hull Fliflet said in a statement. “The trivialization of these serious crimes, like stalking, should have no place in the entertainment industry.”

Mixing stalking with romantic pursuit is exactly the problem, and the fact that the girl in question is played by Levine’s real-life wife makes that line even blurrier. Levine and Prinsloo only married in July, which makes the whole bloody-murder-fantasy seem like a perverted newlywed game. And because there’s a real relationship underneath all the fake blood, the video risks making stalking seem like a legitimate or even attractive version of normal courtship behavior.

This isn’t the first time Levine has used violence to talk about love– Maroon 5’s 2010 video ‘Misery‘ featured Levine getting beaten up by a girl in a sort of love-dance. But ‘Animals’ takes that violence to a whole new level.

It’s disturbing to see Levine glamorized in this video as some kind of hopeless romantic, because all his psychopathic behaviors are recast as attractive qualities. Is he supposed to seem tortured and artistic because he has hundreds pictures of this girl that he developed himself in his dark room? Maybe we should think he’s adventurous, because he sneaks into her house to take pictures of her while she sleeps. We can see that he’s fit, because he does all those pull-ups in his meat-hanging room. Plus, he can cook!

Take, for example, the part where Adam Levine stands outside Prinsloo’s window watching her through his psychopath-glasses. There are tons of examples of lovelorn men standing outside a window to signal their devotion– it’s a romantic staple that’s so common it’s become a corny trope. Think of John Cusack in Say Anything, James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues, Freddy Eynesford Hill in My Fair Lady, Romeo in the balcony scene. But in this video, that’s a violent act, not a romantic one– because Levine has a camera and a meat locker full of bloody carcasses.

But that blurry line is exactly why Levine’s creepy obsession could be easily misinterpreted as adoration. How many impressionable girls are thinking, “I wish Adam Levine loved me enough to break into my house and take pictures of me while I sleep! Why isn’t anyone following me into nightclubs and refusing to back off?” The fact that he was crowned Sexiest Man Alive last year doesn’t help, because even when he’s trying to look creepy, there’s an element of self-conscious hotness.

Adam Levine rolling around in blood and pretending to be a murderous stalker is scary enough. But casting his real-life-wife as his target suggests that this kind of stalkerdom has some place in healthy relationships, like violence is the underside of love. And coming off the summer of domestic violence stories, that’s the last thing anyone needs to see.

 

 

TIME animals

Watch a Great White Shark Attack Another Great White Shark

Cue the Jaws theme

Some truths are self-evident, like the fact that a video of a great white shark attacking another great white shark is the rowdiest thing you will watch today, probably this week, maybe ever.

You’re welcome.

WATCH: This Video Shows What It’s Like to Come Face-to-Face With a Great White Shark

MORE: Beachgoers Beware: The Great White Shark Population Is Growing Again

MORE: TIME’s Shark Cover

TIME animals

Study: Chimps Learn How to Use New Tools From Other Chimps

ICOAST-ANIMAL-ZOO
A chimpanzee holds a lettuce at the zoo in Abidjan on June 12, 2014. Sia Kambou—AFP/Getty Images

This means chimps have a prerequisite for human culture

A new study from PLOS Biology found that chimpanzees can learn group-specific behavioral traits from each other, widely considered a prerequisite for human-style culture. The results suggest the foundations of human culture can be traced back to our common ancestry with apes.

Researchers in Uganda noticed that a few chimps in a group started using new kinds of sponges to drink water. Usually, chimps use clumps of leaves to extract the water, but the team observed one chimp using moss instead. Once the other chimps saw him using moss, seven other chimps made and used moss sponges over a six-day period. There was also another variation on the leaf-sponge (re-using an old leaf sponge) that also spread through the group.

“Basically, if you saw it done, you learned how to do it, and if you didn’t you didn’t,” lead researcher Dr. Catherine Hobaiter told the BBC. “It was just this wonderfully clear example of social learning that no one had [witnessed] in the wild before.”

TIME animals

Here’s Why Thousands of Walruses Are Gathering on Alaska’s Shore

Approximately 1500 walrus gather on the northwest coast of Alaska on Sept. 23, 2014
Approximately 1500 walrus gather on the northwest coast of Alaska on Sept. 23, 2014 Corey Accardo—NOAA/AP

The time has come, the walruses said, to gather on land since we can't find any ice around

Nearly 35,000 walruses were discovered this month on a northwest Alaskan shore as result of being unable to find sea ice to rest upon, a problem aggravated by climate change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

The unusually massive walrus gatherings were first spotted on Sept. 13 when NOAA conducted its annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey, a spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

The marine mammals use sea ice as diving platforms to hunt for food in shallow areas, or as resting points to avoid long, exhausting swims. While it is normal for sea ice to recede into deeper parts of the Arctic Ocean as temperatures warm in the summer, in recent years the ice has moved even further.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the accelerated loss of sea ice is associated with climate change, in which open water absorbs more heat and speeds up the melting process. WWF estimated that Arctic ice loss was 3.5 to 4.1% each decade between 1979 and 2012.

The habitat destruction has contributed to large groups of walruses arriving on shore. Walrus gatherings were first spotted near Alaskan shores in 2007, and they returned in 2009 and 2011, experts at the NOAA said.

“The walruses are telling us what the polar bears have told us and what many indigenous people have told us in the high Arctic,” Margaret Williams, managing director at the WWF, told AP. “And that is that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.”

 

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