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An Injured Parrot Figures Out How to Thrive

For a bird, losing its beak would normally be a death sentence. Especially for parrots, the loss of the beak literally means an inability to eat and survive. That was the case for one bird, it seemed, that had a broken beak and no means of repair. However, extremely interesting for the scientists studying it, the given parrot has figured out how to adapt.

Bruce, was found injured in 2013 with his top beak half missing. Taken to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, located in Christchurch, the young kea bird was cared for and brought back to normal health sans his functioning beak. However, instead of struggling to survive, Bruce has managed to not only survive but thrive with some very notable creativity on his own part.

The first example of Bruce’s adaptivity was his cleaning efforts. Keas normally use their beak to clean their features and get rid of bird mites. Bruce wasn’t so fortunate, so he decided to use pebbles instead. Figuring out how to hold the small stones, the bird preens his feathers effectively and continued to do the same behavior, extremely unique and never seen before in a kea parrot.

From a scientific and biological perspective, New Zealand’s kea parrot is not known for outstanding natural creativity and tool use. Instead, they rely heavily on beaks and claws for 100 percent of their needs. Researchers have been absolutely fascinated with Bruce, not only because he is unique among his species, but also because the bird continues to keep coming up with new methods of functioning without his beak.

Bruce was studied directly for at least a week to two weeks, with heavy observation on his utilization of pebbles for cleaning. The bird had figured out a way to pick up a pebble with his tongue, press it against his lower beak and then move it around as needed for preening. Multiple videos were taken observing the behavior which both shocked and amazed scientists extremely familiar with the kea bird and what it would normally do. As usual in the research world, the immediate reaction would be that the bird’s ability was an accident and not repeatable. However, as the repetition of Bruce’s behavior became fully documented and known, the critics flittered away and even the hardest non-believers had to admit Bruce was original and unique in his ability.

Naturally, kea parrots are fairly intelligent. They have an inquisitive nature, they like to steal small things from humans, and they are regularly fascinated with car trim pieces and wipers. That said, tool use has not been in their repertoire of abilities until Bruce came along. Part of the difference may have very well been Bruce’s traumatic juvenile period with the injury and being cared for by humans. The bird may very well have observed humans enough to see the world differently than his feathered peers, triggering a different brain wiring in how Bruce solves problems. No one is sure. And Bruce continues to surprise. He breaks down tougher foods by dragging or scraping it along a harder surface. Again, it’s a behavior never seen before in other kea parrots.

And then there is Bruce.

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Itchy Hand Leads to $30,000 Lottery Prize

Kevin Wells

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A woman from South Carolina won $30,000 in the lottery, thanks to an old superstition about itchy palms.

The woman, from the Midlands, told officials from the South Carolina Education Lottery that she stopped at the Walmart Fuel Station on Pinewood Road in Sumter because her hand was itching a lot. According to the superstition, an itchy palm means good luck is coming, especially with money.

Believing in this, she bought a $2 “20X The Cash” scratch-off ticket. She scratched the ticket in her car and discovered she had won $30,000.

Now, the woman is deciding what to do with her winnings. “I don’t have any plans for it yet,” she said.

Superstitions about itchy palms aren’t new. There have been other times in history when people believed these kinds of signs led to good luck. For example, in many cultures, an itchy right palm means you will receive money, while an itchy left palm means you will lose money. While it might just be a fun belief, sometimes it seems to pay off, like it did for this South Carolina woman.

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Tired Deer Rescued from Beach

Renee Yates

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A very tired roe deer was rescued from Cleethorpes beach, according to a wildlife group.

Emergency services were called on Monday evening by people worried the deer was stuck in the mud.

Volunteers from Cleethorpes Wildlife Rescue (CWR) found the scared deer with its face in a fence near the water’s edge. They used a deer net to catch the animal, which was then treated by a vet and later released in a safer place, CWR said.

Earlier, the deer had been seen swimming in the estuary, which is usually normal, CWR explained on Facebook. However, they later got reports – not confirmed – that the deer had been chased by dogs on the beach.

Volunteers watched the deer and saw that its condition was getting worse. They quickly planned a rescue and were able to capture the deer in just a few seconds with good teamwork.

The deer was taken to Medivet in Swanland, East Yorkshire. After treatment, the deer became much more alert, and its condition improved a lot on the way back to Cleethorpes, CWR said.

The wildlife group thanked the volunteers, vets, and emergency services who helped with the successful rescue.

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Chicago Teen Earns Doctorate at 17

Kelly Taylor

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By age 14, Dorothy Jean Tillman had already earned her associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Despite these remarkable accomplishments, she confided to her mother, Jimalita Tillman, “I think I want to pursue a doctorate.”

Her mother was initially taken aback. It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Dorothy was busy with her newly launched STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) camp startup, seeking funding for the organization. “I was just like, ‘why?’ I thought you were done,” Jimalita recounted to CNN.

Dorothy’s goal was to make a positive impact on young people’s mental health, and with that explanation, her mother fully supported her.

Two years later, Dorothy, at 17, successfully defended her dissertation. Now 18, she graduated from Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions on May 8, officially becoming Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman.

Seeing her daughter’s accomplishments has been a humbling experience for Jimalita. “I knew what it took for her to go through that. She had to sacrifice a lot. A lot of her fears and going through different things during the pandemic,” she said. “She emerged as a leader without fear, showing them how to navigate online schooling.”

Dorothy’s academic prowess was evident from a young age. By 7, she was doing high school work and soon began taking college-level exams to earn credits toward higher education.

Reflecting on her journey, Dorothy said, “It was always a very hard thing to kind of stomach mentally being so young. When you get out of college, you’re thinking, ‘what do I do next?’ Now I am able to sit in the comfortability of being a teenager and being OK with the fact that I don’t have to figure out what comes next.”

At Arizona State University, she studied integrated behavioral health. Her dissertation examined the stigma preventing university students from seeking mental health treatment.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Dorothy runs the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Leadership Institute. This program encourages hundreds of underserved young people in Chicago and internationally, in countries like Ghana and South Africa, to explore STEAM careers. The institute offers guest speakers and open discussions in each STEAM field. “We just want to provide them with all the resources possible and the best foundation to be able to start walking on that pathway to their dreams,” she explained.

Despite her extraordinary achievements, Dorothy remains a typical teenager, enjoying time with family and friends. She credits her mother as her biggest supporter. “I definitely couldn’t have gotten this far without her; she’s the best teammate, the best supporter,” she said.

Another significant influence is her grandmother, former Chicago alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.

After completing her degree at ASU, Dorothy aims to expand her camps and integrate her studies on behavioral health into her work. She envisions franchising the camps to reach more children and plans to engage more with youth in Africa.

“I’ve been focusing on my studies a lot and I don’t go nearly as much as I should,” Dorothy remarked. “Now I’m glad to have the time for things like that.”

Dorothy emphasizes the importance of a supportive family in her success. “It’s teamwork that makes the dream work,” she said. “It is a village that builds the land. It’s having those people there with you that is going to, you know, uphold you at the end of the day.”

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106-Year-Old Texan Sets Record as World’s Oldest Skydiver

Renee Yates

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At 106 years old, Alfred “Al” Blaschke from Georgetown, Texas, has reclaimed the title of the world’s oldest skydiver. This remarkable feat was achieved when he jumped out of an airplane at 9,000 feet last November. Blaschke, who initially set the record at 103, continues to prove that age is just a number.

Blaschke’s latest skydive was not just for thrill; it was a powerful message about overcoming doubts. “If you think you can’t, you’re just underestimating yourself,” he said, encouraging people to step beyond their comfort zones.

This achievement was covered by the Guinness World Records, which tracks over 40,000 world records. Blaschke’s record had been briefly surpassed by Dorothy Hoffner of Chicago, who made her skydive at 104. Unfortunately, Hoffner passed away before her record could be officially recognized.

On November 27, 2023, Blaschke embarked on his third tandem skydive. He and his instructor leaped from 9,000 feet above Fentress, Texas, and parachuted safely to the ground, greeted by his family, journalists, and officials.

Blaschke’s journey into skydiving began at the age of 100, and he broke his first record at 103 to celebrate his twin grandsons’ college graduation. He was inspired to take up skydiving not just for fun but to mark significant life events in a truly memorable way.

The record was previously held by Rut Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson of Sweden, who skydived at 103 years and 259 days old in 2022. Motivated by Larsson’s feat, Blaschke was determined to reclaim his title.

Now 107, Blaschke has lived a full life, from his early years in a farming family in Janesville, Wisconsin, to a 40-year career in the tool-and-die industry where he built aircraft parts during World War II. He moved to Texas in 2004 with his wife, Eleanor, who passed away in 2010.

Skydiving for Blaschke is more than just a sport; it’s a way to celebrate milestones and make every moment count. As he put it, each dive has to be for “something extra special.”

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Twin Hero Receives Royal Award for Bravery

Kevin Wells

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Three years ago, an ordinary vacation in Mexico turned into a scene from a movie when a crocodile attacked two sisters while swimming in a river. Georgia and Melissa, twins who were enjoying their time in the water, suddenly found themselves in a terrifying situation. Georgia reached safety, but as Melissa was being helped onto the bank, the crocodile struck again, pulling her underwater.

In a brave and daring move, Georgia, who is now 31 years old, didn’t hesitate. She jumped back into the water, not once but twice, to fight off the massive reptile and save her sister. This incredible act of courage has earned Georgia the King’s Gallantry Medal, a prestigious award given by King Charles III. This medal is a tribute to civilians who risk their own lives to save others.

Georgia shared with the UK’s PA Media news agency that receiving this award brings a “silver lining” to their horrifying experience. She said it somewhat eases the trauma they went through.

Melissa’s ordeal was severe. She suffered from multiple injuries including a complicated wrist fracture, deep puncture wounds to her stomach, and bites on her leg, foot, and glutes. She had to undergo emergency surgery and was even placed in a medically induced coma to fight off a life-threatening infection known as sepsis. Thankfully, she fully recovered after a tough battle in the hospital.

Now, with the nightmare behind them, Georgia and Melissa are channeling their experience into something positive. They are planning to swim 13 kilometers in the Thames Marathon this August. Their goal is to raise money for PTSD UK and Compañeros En Salud, a charity in Mexico that helps provide medical training and aid to communities in need.

Reflecting on the incident, Georgia admits that it sometimes feels like a distant, unreal memory. “It sounds like something out of a horror movie,” she says. But for them, it’s a part of their life story, a dramatic chapter in their personal tapestry.

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