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My Hero Mango

In 2019 Shawn and Rita Fitzgerald settled into the realization that they were never going to be parents. Rita had suffered multiple miscarriages. She found it difficult to spend time with friends who had children. It was painful for her to mingle among neighbors with children. 

Their neighbors across the street, Martin and Leslie had a young son, Owen. Rita had heard through the grapevine that Leslie was now expecting another child. Rita was devastated to hear this news, which for most women would bring excitement and job. Shawn was worried about Rita. 

On his way home from work one afternoon, Shawn stopped at the local animal shelter and met Mango. She was a sweet, quiet, caramel colored pit bull. Despite the negative stereotype pit bulls are known to have, Shawn filled out the application to adopt Mango. A week later, Shawn was driving home with Mango to surprise Rita. He was sure Rita would absolutely fall in love with her. 

He was right. Rita and Mango became inseparable. Rita’s melancholy demeanor dissolved slowly, despite having to watch Leslie’s belly grow through her pregnancy. By the time Leslie’s new baby, Aiden, was born, Rita was happy. Mango was exactly what Rita needed. As it turned out, Mango was exactly what Leslie needed, too. 

Leslie was a bit of a neat freak. She liked a clean house. She was a big fan of candles to enhance the fragrance of cleanliness. 

One quiet afternoon, after a long walk in the woods, Rita and Mango took a nap on Rita’s couch. Rita was startled awake when Mango jumped from his slumber and raced to the front door. Rita followed, looking out. Mango was whining uncontrollably. Rita started to open the door when Mango pushed her aside and raced out and across the street to Leslie’s house.

Mango nosed open the screen door of Leslie’s house and disappeared inside. Rita wasn’t sure what was happening. Then she saw the smoke billowing from the second story of Leslie’s house. Leslie’s car was in the driveway, so Rita assumed Leslie was home with the kids. She instantly called the fire rescue.

Rita let herself into the smoke-filled house, finding Leslie and the baby asleep on the couch. Owen was nowhere in sight. Rita was shouting waking Leslie. She ushered them outside to find the fire truck approaching. The firefighters disappeared for what seemed an eternity. They brought Owen out of the house, but not Mango.

Her fear about Mango turned into panic. She knew Mango was still in the house. The entire second floor was now entirely engulfed in flames. The firemen eventually retreated, without Mango and they continued working to extinguish the fire.

Hours later Rita sat in shock, knowing her beloved Mango was gone. She sat on her porch staring at the ruins of Leslie’s house, too stunned to cry. In too much of a shock to hear Leslie’s husband and toddler approach. The three of them sat in silence as Owen climbed into Rita’s lap. He rested his head on Rita’s chest and after a while he said softly, “Mango is my best friend”.  

It took Leslie and Martin more than a year to completely restore their home. During that time, Owen came to visit Leslie every day. He insisted on taking walks with Rita, asking questions about Mango. He got Rita to laugh, talking about her caramel colored hero.

On the anniversary of the perilous fire, Leslie and Martin accompanied Owen on his visit to see Rita. They brought a box which held a framed photo of Rita and Mango, Mango’s collar that had been found among the ashes, and a check for $25,000 that Leslie and Martin were giving to the animal shelter.

It didn’t bring Mango back to Rita, but it did make her happy that Mango saved this sweet boy Owen and that many animals would benefit from Martin and Leslie’s gift of charity.



Remains of An Aristocracy Found During Unearthing Of 1000-year-old Viking Vessel





What historians once deemed as a small grave is actually a prestigious Viking death commemoration. Excavators discovered as they plowed through the ship burial area, not with any expectation of making such a grand discovery.

The finding occurred in Norway, in a region encompassing the Gjellestad Viking ship grave. The archaeologists used radar scans to puncture the ground where they saw a vast amount of conventional monument items related to grand feasts and a spiritual network of extraordinary prestige.

The significant discovery has debunked the original belief that the burial area was simple and is instead a representation of the affluent Viking lifestyle in the region.

The Find

A grand dining hall, remnants of three communal village houses, 13 small grave piles, and a shrine were all seen perched in the area around the historic burial ground. Historians only ever discovered one other commemoration of death in Norway before this finding. Scholars believe the current grave dates back to the decline of the Roman Empire in the Western Hemisphere. Scandinavian archaeologists document burial grounds as significant, considering it dates back to BC era dwellers of the peninsula.

A large portion of the findings is currently on display in museums across the country. The treasures on display include weapons and personal items of jewelry, all dug up by scholars and apprentice excavators.

The archaeologists believe that politicians should consider a find of such magnitude in the political arena to establish Norway’s power based on its historical connections. They think that’s the very reason the Vikings did a ship burial in an area where other burials had taken place, to establish authority. Ship burials were a sign of status in the Viking era, and the battle for power was rife during that time.

Great accomplishment

Norwegians could not have asked for a better find than a burial ship with many artifacts still in good shape. The only three ships excavated in Europe are on show at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Already, the city is making preparations to house the Gjellestad ship, which was buried more than 12 centuries ago. The burial may have occurred about ten years following the Viking era’s crash into volatility with the invasion of an English Sanctuary.

The government wants the ship to be unearthed quickly due to its significance and that it is the first Viking ship to be dug up in over a century. Additionally, the ship is rapidly decaying due to fungus developing within the wood framework. The government has given one and a half million dollars to assist with expediting the project.

Smithsonian believes that the fungus issue came about due to farmers building drainage pipes across the shipping area, unaware at the time of the ship’s presence in their fields. The lines caused air to seep into the soil, which led to fungus growth. The digging situation was in the mid-1900s, so the boat has been rotting for about a century.

Once the excavation goes as planned, historiography could determine the exact type of ship it is, meaning whether it was used for transportation, to carry out raids, or for trade purposes. The historians already know it is not one of the largest Viking ships, especially since it’s smaller than the two famous Viking ships previously found. They are, however, convinced that it is still not in the small category with a measurement of 60 feet in length.

They are making every effort to excavate the ship intact and preserve as much of it as possible. The find will be an enormous deal internationally and could boost Oslo’s tourism once it goes on display.

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Tribes in the Amazon Excited to Protect the Rainforest With Advanced Drones

Shannon Jackson



You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist to understand that illegal logging and deforestation are enormously damaging to the planet and our environment. While we see attempts at restraining deforestation and illegal logging in many countries, some places have been less-than-lucky. In fact, we can point to one of the most important natural areas on the planet for a prime example of abuses against indigenous tribes the land that they call their home.

Let’s take a trip over to the Amazon Rainforest to explore how the WWF and the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association are working together to fundamentally change the complexion of the Amazon Rainforest, the realities of illegal logging, and how indigenous tribes are fighting for their rights the entire way.

The Amazon Rainforest had shrunk by an incredible 519 square miles in the month of July 2019 alone. Since then, analysts have estimated that more than 20k square miles of Amazonian rainforest are eradicated every year due to existential threats from climate change, deforestation, and illegal logging. This is particularly problematic in Rondonia, a state in Western Brazil that has decided to fight back against the damage being done to the environment.

In the state of Rondonia, five indigenous tribes are working together as one in alignment with anthropologists, specialists, foresters, and biologists. Their goal is to create a Defense Association for the environment that utilizes not just civil activism, but also elite new technology to track and condemn poachers and illegal loggers. Thanks to the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association, tribes have been able to use HD drones to log the GPS coordinates of illegal sites, including nut tree stands which are particularly valuable in Brazil. The Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe has even utilized GPS technology to stop poachers from attacking and harvesting vulnerable animals such as the harpy eagle.

The harpy eagle is considered a neotropical subspecies of the eagle. Known in North America as the American Harpy Eagle, this bird is considered one of the most powerful and largest of raptors in the entirety of the rainforest. Continued poaching and deforestation have put this wondrous animal on the backburner, leading potentially to the destruction of their species. Poachers in the Amazon have used the forest to track these birds and poach them for their own purposes.

While poaching is a huge issue within the Amazon, a bigger problem has been the illegal logging and wildfires that have been so widespread over the past two years. Wildfires have turned ranches and forest to ash, leaving behind pastureland left for farmers to take advantage of while leaving the rainforest to burn.

Felipe Spina Avino is a conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil and it has been through her work that drone-training has risen in the region. Avino has helped to pioneer the drone-training program that has helped indigenous groups to track these issues while utilizing their ancestral knowledge of the region to protect it from outsiders. Avino would go on to explain that the footage captured via drone would be sent along to authorities where pressure can be brought from the top-on-down to the poachers and illegal harvesters.

The drone project that Avino has helped to cultivate costs less than $2,000 for all of the equipment and training that a group needs. Through programs like this, tripes like the Uru Eu Wau Wau are finally getting back some measure of power over their land, their history, and the future of their ancestral home. The COVID-19 pandemic has only furthered the challenge that the drone project has undertaken, but success has already been shown in areas around Brazil!

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Rescued Cats and Inmates Transform Lives Together in New Prison Program

Kevin Wells



Is there anything purer than the love of a pet? When your cat or dog comes up to you and shows affection, it can be almost impossible not to let out an audible d’awww. Our cats and dogs love us more than we can understand, so it stands to reason that they’d be beneficial in therapeutic settings. Cats can’t really judge a man based on their wrongdoings, but they can definitely accept pats and offer emotional support to those in need. Where does our conversation lead us? To a new program that may change the way that we look at prison reform, the FORWARD program!

The FORWARD program is an acronym that stands for their mission statement, Felines and Offenders Rehabilitation With Affection, Reformation, and Dedication (FORWARD). The goal of the program is to bring shelter cats to the Pendleton Correctional Facility for therapeutic treatment. The inmates will play with and care for the cats as they wait to be adopted by their forever family on the outside of Pendleton. 

We already hear people at home asking, “Why should inmates get to play with cats?” While this may feel like a valid question, the truth is a little more complex. Rehabilitation should always be a priority when it comes to the industrial prison complex. With the FORWARD program, inmates in a Maximum Security Prison are granted unrestrained and non-judgemental love and affection from the cats in exchange for adhering to the rules of the program. This feedback loop rewards good behavior with more good behavior, creating a cycle that is positive for everyone involved.

When cats are brought into Pendleton as part of the FORWARD program, they are placed in a massive sanctuary that is brimming with structures to climb, posts to scratch, and hideaways to sleep in. Anthony LaRussa has been helping to pioneer the program at Pendleton and he said, “We’re able to give back, and not just for us — but for the animals, too.” 

One of the biggest issues plaguing prisons in the United States is the recidivism rate. The recidivism rate shows that inmates are leaving prison behind only to relapse and end up back within the system. Prison pet programs were initiated in the 1980s to curb recidivism and has since grown to embrace cats, dogs, and horses within the prison sanctuary system.

Studies have shown that pet programs such as FORWARD are incredibly effective and popular with inmates and researchers. Studies have shown that caring for pets in prison can increase both self-esteem and self-efficacy while underscoring the importance of empathy. In fact, some studies have even shown that pet programs are fantastic for helping offenders to improve their emotional maturity and employability once outside of the prison program.

 The bare facts are that pet programs have continued to improve interpersonal relationships between officers and offenders in prison facilities while also improving the likelihood of success outside of them. Pet programs shouldn’t be looked at as anything other than an extension of other recidivism-focused services. With the wildfires that have been raging across California, we have even seen offenders take up jobs as firefighters in order to give back to the community while showing the importance of reformation from within the system.

The final point we want to underscore regarding this story is just how dire the animal shelter system in America is. More than 7.2 million animals enter shelters nationwide every year. Programs like FORWARD not only help offenders, but they also do great things for animals that need help, as well!

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Tasmanian Devils Make Historic Return To Mainland Australia After Missing For 3,000 Years

Kelly Taylor



Tasmanian devil which was believed to be extinct has made its return to the forests of Australia. This is the first time the animal has been spotted since over 3,000 years ago.

This return is seen as the first move in the new plan to take Australia back to its flourishing wild life it once had. This was contained in the statement given by the nonprofit Aussie Ark and its partners Global Wildlife Conversation and Wild Ark.

Furthermore, Aussie Ark restated its plan in bringing back Australia’s ecosystems that existed before the pre-European settlement. This new plan will ensure the habitat is free from feral predators.

Aussie Ark has nurtured over 390 Tasmanian devils, in a manner that promotes natural behavior in the animals. This will help them settle comfortably when released to the wild.

And this year alone, Aussie Ark has followed through with its mission. 26 Tasmanian devils have been released into a 400-hectare wild sanctuary. But there are bigger plans by the organization. There is the intent of introducing two batches of 20 Tasmanian devils each. If this goes as scheduled, offsprings will be produced by the devils culminating in a growing population.

This reintroduction is a welcome development, and as native apex predators and being the largest carnivorous marsupials, they help limit the dominance of  other felines and foxes over endangered species.

They are also hunters and with their hunting skills, they keep their habitat clean and safe from harm.

With their reappearance in the wild, this serves as an indication that Australia is keen on its mission of “rewilding”.

Previously, Tasmanian devils were wiped out from mainland Australia due to the introduction of dingoes which hunted them in packs. Just like wolves.

They were only safe on the island of Tasmania, a place the Dingoes never got to.

In the island of Tasmania, a deadly disease called Devil Facial Tumour completely destroyed up to 90 percent of the Tasmanian community. Now, only 25,000 devils remain on the island.

The Tasmanian species Aussie Ark has reintroduced will be subject to intensive monitoring. Using surveys, radio collars fit with transmitters and camera traps, this will enable researchers to know how the animals are faring. 

It will also help to disclose the problems the animals face in their new environment, feeding habits and their mode of mating.

This information will guide subsequent animals that will be released on Tasmania and on the mainland.

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The Amazingly Odd Things Americans Do

Renee Yates



The U.S. as a nation literally represents a melting pot of cultures, behaviors, norms, beliefs and people. As a result, it is quite possible to travel a couple hundred miles or even just a few city blocks and be surrounded by an entirely different aspect of life, people and practices. However, there are still quirks and behaviorisms that, despite centuries of immigration into the country, make Americans extremely unique compared to the rest of the world. And those are not automatically led by the automatic zeal of democratic freedom and similar grand statements either. In fact, many are very mundane but stand out immediately when seen in other countries as Americans travel. Here are 30 unique habits, behaviors, norms or ideas we take for granted, but raise eyebrows elsewhere:

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