TIME animals

Watch a Group of Teenage Dolphins Get Stoned on a Poisonous Fish

Flipper gets ripped

Dolphins are hiding a dirty little secret under the waves.

Using hidden cameras, some designed to look like pufferfish, Discovery Channel was able to get up close to a group of teenage bottlenose dolphins for their special Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, and they found some of them may have a bit of a drug problem.

In this clip, a rowdy pod of young dolphins play catch with a real pufferfish, passing around the inflated sea creature. After several minutes of being tossed around, the pufferfish gets angry and releases a fog of neurotoxins. Though lethal when ingested directly, the toxins quickly disperse in the water and become diluted.

Taking in the watered-down neurotoxins, the dolphins start to get a little “groovy.” The pod members take turns passing around the pufferfish, so everyone can get a buzz. After all the dolphins have had a hit, the pod relaxes and the pufferfish escapes.

This footage is the first time dolphins have been caught on camera indulging in recreational “drug” use. Who knows what else they’re hiding.

To learn more, watch the Discovery Channel special Dolphins: Spy in the Pod on Saturday at 8/7c p.m.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

Here’s a Baby Goat Dressed Up as Elsa From Frozen

So regal. So majestic.

Frozen may have come out in 2013, but people around the world still really, really love it. We now know that Frozen mania is not just limited to humans, though. It’s also a thing for goats. Behold: this video of a baby Nigerian Dwarf goat named Peppa Lass rocking an Elsa costume.

We have limited information about why this goat is dressed up as Queen Elsa of Arendelle, but we’ve got some theories. Basically: even though Peppa Lass is obviously adorable, it’s very difficult to bust onto the Internet scene as a baby goat these days. A few years ago it was much easier to stand out, but there’s no denying the meteoric rise of the goat has caused some serious competition in the goat community.

So somebody like Peppa Lass, who clearly has a lot to offer, is left asking herself: Where do I fit into this industry? How do I showcase my talent? How do I make myself stand out? These are tough questions, and anyone who’s ever had a dream can relate. So what happened was this: Peppa had been trying to bust onto the scene in earnest, taking whatever dead-end gigs she could while still maintaining her integrity. At some point, though, she realized she might have to exploit herself a bit. Because after all, a goat’s gotta eat, right?

So she agreed to put on a blue dress and a blonde braided wig because she knew people would like it. That doesn’t make her a sellout, she’s telling herself. The exposure from self-exploitation early in her career will set her up to pursue her real, true art with the integrity we all know she has deep down.

TIME animals

The Story of Butch the Baby Circus Elephant

How she journeyed from the grasslands of India to the back seat of a Cadillac in Texas

There is perhaps nothing more emblematic of the circus than an elephant, its massive head adorned with bejeweled headdress, its sturdy feet perched on an impossibly narrow stool. But the circus elephant is equally as controversial as it is iconic, and after decades of pressure from animal rights groups, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus addressed that controversy head on when it announced on Thursday that it would eliminate elephant acts by 2018.

It’s not clear whether LIFE was looking for a heartwarming story or a hair-raising one when the magazine dispatched Cornell Capa to Gonzales, Texas, in 1948 to photograph Butch, a baby elephant just arrived from India to join the Dailey Circus.

Many of the photographs document Butch’s close relationship with her keeper, Singh, who fed Butch, cleaned Butch and—as any good friend should—allowed Butch to put Singh’s entire face in her mouth. Other photos, however, show Butch’s feet bound in shackles, and Butch’s habitat—though the elephant is warmly welcomed in the circus owners’ home—a far cry from the forests and grasslands from which Butch was taken.

Though the story never ran in LIFE, an article published the following year in the local paper, the Gonzales Inquirer, sheds some light on the consequences of raising wild animals in captivity. When Butch and her herd refused to cooperate for a photo shoot, circus owner Ben C. Davenport had some cowboys fire shots to try to round them up. The loud noise, along with galloping horses, frightened the elephants into a stampede. They dispersed throughout the town, injuring two men, blasting through fences and toppling over mailboxes.

One elephant, perhaps more frightened than the rest, remained missing until evening. Butch had run six miles, deep into the woods. When Davenport finally found her, he brought her back home in his Cadillac. Even under the most caring captive conditions—and how many elephants can say they’ve rolled through town in the back seat of a Caddy—the stimuli of human life can wear on an animal unaccustomed to them.

Butch’s fate is unknown, as the Dailey Bros. Circus appears to have disbanded in 1950. The 43 elephants performing for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, for their part, will live out their days on a 200-acre plot in Central Florida.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME animals

The History Behind Ringling Bros.’s Elephant-Sized Decision

Barnum's Elephant
London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images circa 1890: Jumbo, the famous elephant which belonged to US showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, at London Zoo in Regent's Park

This circus, which will no longer include elephant acts as of 2018, has a special relationship to the animals

After a few years of growing cultural unease with elephant captivity, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced on Thursday that their shows would, by 2018, no longer include elephant acts.

Other circuses have given up elephants before, and others will likely continue to incorporate them into shows — but it’s particularly significant that this one has decided to part with pachyderms.

After all, an elephant is why that circus exists in the first place.

As TIME explained in 1923 review of a biography of Phineas Taylor Barnum, the showman whose name is a key part of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey — the mouthful of an official title of the circus in question — started as a sideshow curator. He was middle-aged when he turned his natural salesmanship toward a circus, but it was Bailey, in fact, who had an elephant first:

Later, when a baby elephant, the first born in captivity, arrived in Bailey’s rival camp, Barnum offered $100,000 for the infant, a fact which Bailey so blatantly advertised that Barnum was forced to merge with his rival in self-defense.

Thus, in 1881, was born Barnum & Bailey — thanks to an elephant. It was only a year later that they acquired perhaps the most famous elephant in history, Jumbo, who had been born in Africa but was living in London when Barnum brought him stateside, further establishing the link between the circus and the animal. According to TIME, his first six weeks at Madison Square Garden in New York City earned Barnum & Bailey a whopping $336,000. (That’s about $7.5 million today, and yes, the word “jumbo” is an eponym.)

Barnum & Bailey merged with Ringling Bros. Circus in 1907 and the two circuses began doing combined shows about a decade later.

Read a 1952 profile of John Ringling North, here in the TIME archives: Personality

TIME animals

Why the Circus Is Saying Goodbye to Elephants

The social nature of elephants makes captivity for them a "living death"

On Thursday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced they would phase out their iconic elephant acts by 2018. The decision was spurred by public concern about the treatment of elephants in circuses, and perhaps a growing understanding that being kept as an entertainment spectacle is emotionally damaging to the sensitive, intelligent animals.

Elephants are social creatures in the wild with close-knit family units. They even perform funeral rituals and spend weeks mourning their dead. So those that have long been in circuses and zoos can come to exhibit symptoms of depression, aggression or post-traumatic stress disorder, most likely as a result of the confinement and isolation.

In 2006, the New York Times article described the trauma elephants undergo in captivity: “Being kept in relative confinement and isolation [is] a kind of living death for an animal as socially developed and dependent as we now know elephants to be,” author Charles Siebert wrote.

There have been many reports of elephants in captivity experiencing abuse by their handlers. In 2011, Mother Jones published a year-long investigation into Ringling Bros.’ treatment of its elephants. Among its claims:

Ringling elephants spend most of their long lives either in chains or on trains, under constant threat of the bullhook, or ankus—the menacing tool used to control elephants. They are lame from balancing their 8,000-pound frames on tiny tubs and from being confined in cramped spaces, sometimes for days at a time. They are afflicted with tuberculosis and herpes, potentially deadly diseases rare in the wild and linked to captivity.

Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Bros, said that its elephants were in fact “pampered performers” who “are trained through positive reinforcement, a system of repetition and reward that encourages an animal to show off its innate athletic abilities.”

But apparently Ringling is slowly coming to understand that keeping elephants in bondage, animals with a highly developed emotional intelligence, places an uncomfortable mirror on humanity. The New York Times article describes a former circus elephant who had turned violent: “She and the others have suffered, we now understand, not simply because of us, but because they are, by and large, us.”

TIME Television

Watch John Oliver Apologize to Rats Over Rumors That They Caused the Bubonic Plague

John Oliver has a few choice words for you gerbils

John Oliver used his public platform on Last Week Tonight to issue a mea culpa from the human race to the rat race. It seems that rats have been the victims of history’s second biggest framing (history’s first biggest framing being the portraits of Mariah Carey that hang in Mariah Carey’s house). Turns out that despite what many of us learned in history class, the little beady-eyed rodents did not actually spread the black death throughout Europe and almost wipe out the human race.

The real culprit? Mr. Nibbles, the adorable little gerbil. “We’ll have to rewrite that part of history,” said one professor at the University of Oslo, speaking about their research into the real culprit behind the bubonic plague. Absent a massive viral PR campaign, though, it’s too late to spare the rats’ bad reputation.

However, since Oliver lives in New York City—and seems convinced that there are at least five rats with in any 30 foot area of his town—he is more than happy to spearhead a campaign to repair the rats reputation. First step: an apology. Second step: Strip Mr. Nibbles of his tiny little hat.

TIME animals

So This Baby Weasel Decided to Hitch a Ride on a Flying Woodpecker’s Back

The battle for survival just got airborne

An amateur photographer in the U.K. captured the snap of his lifetime on Monday when he witnessed a weasel clinging onto a woodpecker’s back mid-flight.

Martin Le-May from Essex near London said he was first alerted to the bird’s “distressed squawking” at Hornchurch Country Park after the tiny carnivore apparently pounced on it in search of a meal.

“The bird flew across us and slightly in our direction,” he told ITV News. “Suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.”

The woodpecker landed in front of Le-May and his wife, at which point the weasel seemed to get distracted and momentarily let go of its quarry.

“Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight,” adds Le-May. “The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”

Read next: Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

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TIME animals

Watch This Skateboarding Cat Pull Off Some Sweet New Moves

Seriously though, this is very impressive

Back in January, we met Didga, the Internet’s crazy-talented skateboarding cat who lives in Australia. Now, this skilled feline is back — and this time, she’s got a GoPro camera to capture her new tricks. Really, she’s quite impressive. She’s only a cat, but she’s so much better at skateboarding than most humans, including Justin Bieber.

If the video inspires you to get your own pet to perform cool tricks, the YouTube channel that originally introduced us to Didga also offers training tutorials. You can learn how to train your cat to shake paws, use a toilet and more.

TIME animals

Wild Giant Pandas Making a Comeback in China

Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province
Reuters Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Dec. 9, 2014.

The population has grown by 268 despite many obstacles

The Chinese government has some good news for panda lovers.

A new survey by China’s State Forestry Administration indicates that the wild giant panda population has grown to 1,864, representing an increase of 268 pandas since 2003. The number of giant pandas in captivity also doubled.

The census, which took some three years to complete, reflects the country’s commitment to protecting an animal with a lot of obstacles against it: Pandas are slow to reproduce and historically have been a target for poachers, and, per the census, now have 832 miles of roads running through their habitats. China’s 27 preserves for pandas account for the growth.

[NBC News]

TIME animals

Here Are the Best Memes From the Llama Chase

"Llama Drama!"

Two llamas were briefly on the loose in a Sun City, Ariz. retirement community Thursday afternoon before they were lassoed by authorities—a story that has lent itself to countless headlines from “llama drama” to “llow speed chase” and “llamas on the lam.”

Livestreams showed men running to capture the animals as they galloped along sidewalks and green lawns for about an hour, Arizona’s ABC 15 reports. The black llama was captured first, while the white llama managed to keep sprinting until it was eventually lassoed and put in the back of a pickup truck. The names and owners of the llamas have yet to be released.

While the chase is over, the memes are still streaming in, including a fake Twitter account @SunCityLlamas, a music video, and a “Which Runaway Llama Are You?” online quiz. Here are some of our favorite memes and jokes that have emerged on Twitter:

And one alpaca joke:

Read next: Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

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