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N.C. Zoo Announces The Rare Birth of A Sand Cat Kitten

Small, fierce, and daring- words that describe the feline species known as Sand cats. 

In the wild, they are mostly found in the desert where they live off insects, small rodents and even venomous snakes. They are extremely rare due to their quiet and reserved nature, which is why there is a lot of celebration over the birth of a Sand Cat on Monday, Aug. 10. The kitten is the first of the mother Najma and father, Cosmo aged 3 and 5 respectively. 

The mother and kitten are currently in a secluded area of the N.C. Zoo and have minimal human contact. They live in the Desert habitat, which is currently closed to the public in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.

The birth of a sand cat under human care is a rare occurrence. There are only 13 facilities affiliated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in possession of sand cats, and only about six of them have breeding pairs. In 2019, there were only 33 sand cats in all AZA zoos. 

They are petite in size- just like domestic cats, but there is nothing domestic about these desert cats. They are ferocious wild animals that should never be kept as pets, especially in the presence of kids so don’t let their small sizes fool you. Their big ears and relatively large eyes distinguish them from domestic cats, but they can be a lot smaller in size. For Sand Cats under human care, life expectancy is about 10-12 years. 

Sand Cats are native to the deserts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They are nocturnal creatures that can adapt to the hot and cold extremes of their desert environments, primarily because of their thick fur. Their large ears help them pick up low sound frequencies, and this comes in handy when searching for prey or looking for mates. They are solitary creatures by nature, and are only found in pairs for mating purposes. The large span of the desert, however, makes it difficult for two separate Sand Cats to meet, so it takes a long time for that to ever happen. 

Sand Cats keep a low profile by being active at night, staying close to the ground, and leave zero footprints in the sand, making it difficult for humans to see or track them in the wild. All these factors make it a Herculean task to study them and get an accurate number of sand cats living in the wild. 

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Elderly Couples Food Kiosks Attracts Thousands of Customers After Heartbreaking Video

Jess

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A miracle happened for an old couple in south Delhi this past week. The couple — Gaurav Vasan and Badami Devi own a tiny kiosk where they make home-cooked meals to sell. Daily, they don’t make much with profits spent on buying ingredients for next day’s sales. It’s incredible they’ve done this for 30 years. 30 years of struggle and just being alive.

Luck however beamed on the couple.

Their story went viral last night, getting the emotions of people particularly celebrities, cricketers and companies.

All it took was an Instagram post and a tweet that alerted people to their plight.

It began with Vasundhara Tankha Sharma reposting a video made by a blogger that featured the couple. Vasundhara put the caption “completely broke my heart”. She therefore implored residents of Delhi to “please, please go eat at Baba ka Dhaba in Malviya Nagar”.

That post went viral as it was seen by many. The next morning, “Baba Ka Dhaba” was one of the trending topics on Twitter. As a result, people trooped to the kiosk.

The video by food blogger Gaurav Vasan was the starting point. The couple made open how they were struggling in the pandemic. 80-year-old Kanta Prasad shared that he and his wife began their routine at 6:30am, cooking meals until 9:30am. Dal, Curry, parathas and rice were made in large potions to be sold for ₹30-50 per plate.

Donning an orange t-shirt and wearing a mask, Kanta Prasad in the video was seen stirring a meal that looked like mouthwatering matar-paneer.

When quizzed about how much they make, he shed tears and grabbed the 10 notes that were in his box. That was their profit for that day.

The couple rarely made huge returns and with the pandemic, customers have failed to troop in as before, meaning sales are low. The couple can’t bank on their children either as they get no assistance from their two sons and only daughter.

Hours after the video dropped, with the old man shedding tears making people emotional, the video garnered thousands of retweets and likes. Some made offers to help the couple financially and many made plans to have their lunch at Baba Ka Dhaba. Actor Sonam Kapoor, Cricketer R Ashwin, IPL team Delhi Capitals and food delivery app, Zomato were part of those who tweeted.

“We are very happy with the number of customers that are turning up now. We are grateful for the public support,” said Kanta Prasad. His wife added, “During the lockdown months we could not sell anything. We struggled to survive but today we are flooded with customers. We want to give our blessings to all those who helped us.”

Kanta Prasad was indeed elated with the response as there were huge lines of people at his kiosk. “It feels like the whole of India is with us,” he said to news agency ANI.

People were seen at the front of the Dhaba with placads indicating the address of the kiosk. And also, contributions streamed in for “uncle and aunty”.

“I am sure today #BabaKaDhaba will have more visitors than any other restaurant in Delhi. I don’t know about the money, but Baba will definitely need a waiter this week,” commented one post. 

Gaurav Vasan who made the video was also seen at the Dhaba. “When I came here yesterday I had goosebumps listening to their plight. They had earned barely ₹70 the entire day. They had come at 6:30am to set up the shop and had spent ₹500 but even after lunchtime they had earned only ₹70. So I decided to record and share the video to help them. I am overwhelmed with the kind of support that he has received since then. It is great that there are so many people who want to help this man struggling due to poverty,” he told NDTV.

It’s indeed incredible how social media can assist people in times of need.

Meanwhile, Baba has a new message for all: “It is not just me…there are many others who need help, who lost their earnings.”

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Dog Trapped In 30′ Foot Hole Rescued

Renee Yates

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While riding on a North Carolina road, a crew of mountain bikers discovered a dog stuck in a sinkhole 30 feet down. But how did they rescue the poor animal?

The crew was moving through the sinkhole trail situated at the Pisgah National Forest, which is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) down south of Asheville. While riding, they spotted a dog who could have been trapped in the hole for a few days, a statement by the Burke County Search And Rescue revealed.

Calling for assistance, the crew led rescuers to the trapped dog where they lowered down into the hole, luring the famished dog with some beef jerky. 

The dog was ultimately raised to safety using a harness, according to the rescuers.

A thorough observation of the dog revealed he had no injuries however he was hungry for food and water.

After the discovery, the dog had to be taken to Burke County Animal Services for thorough examination and was thus given the name “Sinker”. Authorities revealed they found no collar or a microchip on him.

Meaning, if those who owned it originally are not found, he might be put up for adoption.

The 7-mile trail is renowned for the big sinkhole

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Pink Dolphins Make Surprising Return To Hong Kong Waters

Jess

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There’s been a surprise return of rare pink dolphins to Hong Kong waters and this might be due to the impact of Covid 19 pandemic.

For a while, these rare pink dolphins otherwise referred to as Chinese white dolphins and pink dolphins have been staying off the Pearl River Delta. This happened because of high speed ferries plying the Pearl River Delta as it’s between Hong Kong and Macau.

With the pandemic halting travels and forcing many to stay at home, the seaways had become serene and largely inactive due to the suspension of ferry activities.

Dr Lindsay Porter, a senior research scientist with the University of St. Andrews told The Guardian and Reuters about the remarkable dolphin emergence in the Pearl River Delta. She said dolphin activity in the area has increased by 30% since March.

“These waters, which were once one of the busiest thoroughfares in Hong Kong, have now become very quiet,” said Porter, who has been studying dolphins for 30 years.

Porter claimed she had been on a study right after Hong Kong’s borders were closed in March. Not too long after she observed the massive activity of dolphins in the waters.

“It was the last week in February, literally the week after the ferries stopped traveling between Hong Kong and Macau,” she explained. “I’ve been studying these dolphins since 1993 and I’ve never seen anything like this dramatic change before, and the only thing that changed is 200 ferries stopped traveling before.”

The Hong Kong locals assisted Porter in her research, providing her with a yacht and a boat. With that help, she and her crew used drones to observe the dolphins and also dropped microphones in the water.

“From visual observations, the dolphins are spending much more time socializing, splashing around on the surface, quite a bit of foreplay, quite a bit of sex,” she said.

Foremost conservation group, WWF Hong Kong collaborated with Porter, noting on its website that there could be about 2,500 dolphins in the Pearl Delta River.

Yet, the group observed there’s been a pathetic decline of young dolphins in Hong Kong’s rivers.

“I sometimes feel that we’re studying the slow demise of this population, which can be really sad,” Porter told Reuters.

The WWF Hong Kong pointed out this pathetic decline could be sorted out by curbing dangers like overfishing, water pollution, heavy marine traffic and coastal development.

“It is necessary to take a proactive approach in order to conserve the remaining population of the species before it’s too late,” the conservation group said.

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Students Of Midway Middle School Establish Program To Assist Retired Military Personnel

Kevin Wells

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It was one of the most exciting days at Midway Middle school when they established their first community service project. Named Blessings in a Bag, it’s a program centered around helping past military personnel at the Veteran One Stop.

“You know, it’s really troubling times right now,” said Mitchell Kronwinkler, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who learned of the project today. “But this is that little glimmer of light that shows that people still care about people and you can’t beat that.”

The project envisioned by Mr. Christopher Gayton, was included for the seventh-grade’s Community Outreach Class. Flyers were created by members of the class to help publicize to friends and family and to create awareness around the school.

“The project is very important to me because I’ve been involved with service before,” Gayton said. “My soccer coach at University Highschool was Mr. Chapman, and he was very involved in community service. I was taught from a young age how to be involved in the community and how to help others.”

Kylee Gooch and Brianna Kidd who are members of Gayton’s class share an emotional connection to the project as they’re both from military families.

“My Great-Grandpa is 99 years old now,” Gooch said. “I believe he served in the Air Force and his service was very special to me.”

Kidd expressed excitement by being a part of the project as she believes her Grandpa did a good job while he was in the military.

“Some people are in need,” she said. “And so you need help those people because they might be struggling and it’s also the right thing to do.”

With the pandemic restrictions still in effect, visitors won’t be permitted in the school, however donations still continue for veterans at the One Stop in Waco.

If you know a student of Midway Middle School or an official there, donations can be given to them.

“I’ve also been telling my students that service doesn’t have a timeline,” Gayton said. “Students know that once our project officially ends, they are more than welcome to reach out to organizations and continue giving back.”

“I can promise you, everyone, who does get it, they absolutely love it,” Kronwinkler said. “It still shows that there are people that care, whether or not you’re seeing that first hand but that means a lot.

Donations towards this project end on Friday, October 2.

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Homeless Army Veterans Use Urban Gardening To Heal Invisible Wounds

Jess

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U.S. Army Veteran, Craig Browder served his country at the warfront for 22 years.

“No one forced me to join the military. I did it because I wanted to protect people,” he said.

Browder was pretty sure about what he wanted to do with his life since he was young. He knew he wanted to be either a soldier or a police officer- to be in a position to serve and protect his community. 

According to statistics by the Department of Veteran Affairs, less than 10 percent of Americans have served in the U.S. military, but in Indiana, one in three men that are homeless is a veteran, according to Helping Veterans and Families (HVAF). 

After his tours in Iraq, Browder found himself unable to provide basic necessities for his family, and so, he turned to the HVAF for assistance. HVAF is a system that exists to support and provide assistance to veterans finding it difficult to survive after their service. 

“A lot of the times, I feel abandoned, left alone, isolated,” he said. 

As a father, one of the worst things that could happen to you is not to be able to provide for your kids, and Browder had suffered that fate. 

“It’s hard for a man not to be able to pay his bills, take care of his family, keep a roof- things a man are supposed to do,” he said. 

His fate changed positively after finding HVAF, and they have helped him get back on his feet, able to feed and provide for himself and his family. 

“Now, I’m getting ready to move out of here in a couple of weeks. We got our own apartment, I’m back to working. My wife is now working. HVAF has helped us get on our feet.”

Browder also believes that association with HVAF has helped him deal with his episodes of anxiety and PTSD. 

“I can get real agitated. I don’t want to talk. But I come out here, and I just smoke a cigarette and water the plants. It gives me time to calm down and let my mind take over instead of my emotions,” he said. 

HVAF case manager, Amanda Helfrich discovered some idle space in the facility and thought it best to transform it to an urban garden. The residents now find some solace in the garden, and love every bit of it. 

According to Browder, many of the resident veterans and their families eat the food they’ve grown in the garden instead of going to the food pantry. 

At the urban garden, many of the plants are potted. HVAF says it’s a sign that the plants are not meant for the facility, but for the residents to keep with them forever, especially after they leave.

“Most of our veterans are going to move on to apartments, and these are ways that they’re able to grow their own foods at their apartments,” Helfrich said. 

HVAF is nursing plans to expand its urban garden project to consist of more crops, plants, and flower beds, and it is currently looking for donations and sponsors to help execute it. 

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