While many people are stuck at home due to the pandemic, Penguins are having a whale of a time, wandering about, learning languages, and now, as we recently found out, developing a new found appreciation for art.
In what should have been a simple joke, a small group of penguins was taken to a museum, but their reactions were mind-blowing, prompting new research.
Penguins have always been known to act and even speak like humans; however, having an admiration for paintings is just a whole new level in itself.
The penguins were taken to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where they paused to acknowledge some Impressionist work by master artists.
Three penguins, who by all accounts should have preferred tropical fish, watched compositions by renowned artists like Caravaggio and Monet.
The museum’s director, Julián Zugazagoitia, presumed that the little penguins would be fascinated by the “Water Lilies” masterpiece.
He figured the birds would be attracted to the relaxing aura of the painting, which is a favorite for many. However, the penguins appeared to prefer Baroque music.
In the vibrant room, the birds paused and appeared to truly embrace the paintings, but it is still unknown what factors drew their attention most.
So how did this phenomenon come about?
As an April Fool’s prank, the museum director contacted his pal at the Kansas City zoo to speak about how they could harmonize their reopening phase in the midst of the pandemic.
He then jokingly suggested that they bring a few penguins to hang out at the museum, expecting them to laugh and blow off the idea.
However, he took it seriously, leading to a coordinated effort between the zoo and the museum to organize the visit.
They were initially anxious for the safety of the art and the birds, but the caretakers kept a keen eye on the penguins waddling around the room.
Zugazagoitia said the penguins are very similar to the museum’s usual guests. He explained that the penguins have been fairly social and exploratory, behaving as the typical human visitor would.
As the birds toured the museum, the presenter spoke to them in Spanish as they looked and listened attentively.
A video was posted on YouTube that promptly went viral and received attention from the international media.
The director was most surprised to see how many people enjoyed the program. He believes their reaction is an indication of how times have changed, and people want to see more light-natured, fun, and entertaining news, especially amid a crisis.
I think this enabled an incredible sense of happiness and relaxation. Even though the zoo and museum of art are separate entities, when they were unified, the experience was remarkable for everyone involved.
Most surprising was how the adorable penguins behaved without any issues, allowing the process to transition smoothly.
This may very well be the start of something new for both the museum and zoo.
In the meantime, due to the ongoing health crisis, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will be unavailable while the determinations are made about how to reopen safely.
These very difficult junctures have enabled the entities to utilize their hidden skills and to think outside of the box to keep them afloat.
The Museum director emphasized that they must deliver a strong and stimulating website that truly depicts the vitality of the museum, with the hope that they are fulfilling the interest and intellect of the people to want to visit them once the pandemic has dissipated.
He hopes that people will understand that there is always something new to learn at the museum and feel compelled to visit.
Rehabilitation Facility Ushers in ‘Healing Forest’, Planted by Indigenous Inmates
Found in the heart of Washington State is the Yakama Nation Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, one of the first projects introduced through the DOJ’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This adult and juvenile facility is designed to do more than meet the needs of the region, it also has a unique way of addressing rehabilitation through outdoor projects — including the healing forest.
At the heart of this restorative project are the inmates who identify with and want to embrace their culture and identity. A member of the Yakama Nation, Marylee Smunitee Jones has also been a vocal leader for the healing forest campaign that has been gaining nationwide attention. Jones has worked alongside Ethan Bryson, forest maker and founder of Sugi, to get their ambitious project off of the ground. Jones said that the identity of Yakama Nation lay with the plants, “They show us that it’s okay to be unique.”
After successfully organizing the healing forest project, Bryson and his team would successfully enter the second phase of the plan. This would lead to more than 5,000 native trees successfully entering the ground, incorporating more than 36 species spanning medicinal and non-medicinal plants alike.
In order to find so much success getting plants in the ground, Sugi has followed the Miyawaki method for planting. This method originally took root in Japan where it focused on the diverse planting of species in a confined space. Elise Van Middelem is the founder of Sugi and also one of the leading voices in the company. Speaking on the Miyawaki method Elise would say that this method was “30 times denser, featured16 times more carbon, and was100 times more biodiverse”
Impact of the Healing Forest
While much of today’s discussion has been focused on the sheer volume of plants and the efficacy of the workflow, the effect that the healing forest has had supersedes even these boundaries. An anonymous inmate spoke about the project saying, “It feels great. It makes my heart feel really good.” Other inmates discussed how they would be able to show their kids the massive garden in the future when they finish their sentence.
Even though the impact of the healing forest has been immeasurable to the inmates, it also highlighted an important prospect to discuss on a global scale. According to a 2019 report published at Global Forest Watch, more than 12 million hectares of tropical forest were destroyed in that year alone. Developments surrounding green projects like the healing forest are going to become increasingly welcomed as environmentalism takes center stage on a global scale.
Another initiative operating out of 1t.org would get unveiled during the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos. The goal of the platform is to help the world plant an additional 1 trillion trees by the end of 2030.
Marylee Smunitee Jones says of the Healing Forest and its importance, “We all have our own medicines and that the healing forest is needed… it is needed very much.”
Lowest 48 States See Proliferation in Bald Eagle Population
The bald eagle is a symbol of independence, courage, and strength in the United States. Who’d have guessed that a bird of such importance was on the brink of extinction just a few years ago?
Bald eagles have three or four times the vision of humans. They can fly up to 35 miles per hour and dive for prey at even higher speeds.
The bald eagle’s name comes from the Old English word balde, that demonstrates white; the eagle’s white head contrasts with its dark body, giving it the appearance of being bald. In the wild, the bald eagle survives for 20 to 30 years.
According to government scientists, the volume of American bald eagles has grown exponentially by about four times the 2009 number, now at a high of over 300,000 birds currently flying over forty-eight states.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that bald eagles, a national icon that was once on the verge of extinction, have soared in recent years, with over 71,400 breeding pairs and an estimated 316,700 individual birds.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland praised the eagle’s comeback in her first public appearance since taking office recently, noting that the magnificent bird with its white head has been deemed as sacred to Native American tribes and the country as a whole for eons.
The strong recovery of this beloved bird allows everyone to recollect the country’s collective resilience, in addition to the value of being responsible guardians of the lands and waters that unite us, said Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
In 1963, the number of documented breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states reached a record low of over four hundred.
The bald eagle population has continued to expand through decades of protection, including the banning of the pesticide DDT.
They have also been included on the list of endangered species in more than forty states. In 2007, the bald eagle was delisted as an at-risk or endangered species.
The bald eagle community is thriving, according to Haaland, who described the bird’s recovery as a “success story” that “testifies to the enduring value of the work of Interior Department researchers and conservationists.”
This work would not have been possible without numbers of individuals accumulating and evaluating many years of scientific data… precisely estimating the population of bald eagles in the United States.
The bald eagle’s birthday is also an excellent time to remember the Endangered Species Act, which is a critical tool in the fight to save America’s wildlife, according to Haaland. The landmark 1973 law is necessary to counter the extinction of species like the bald eagle and American bison, he says.
According to Haaland, her unit would investigate measures taken by the Trump regime to weaken core aspects of the threatened species law, reiterating a promise made by President Joe Biden.
She didn’t go into detail, but environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers have chastised the Trump administration for a number of decisions, including decreasing vital territory needed by the northern spotted owl and removing gray wolf safeguards.
The bald eagle is a raptor (bird of prey) that are located at the food chain’s helm. It captures prey by darting over broad landscape or water with its sharply curved talons. It also absorbs the dead animals’ bodies (carrion).
Eagles are carnivores (mmeat-eaters who hunt throughout the daytime (diurnal) from a high perch. Older eagles have a small range of hunters. Small bald eagles are preyed upon by owls. Fish, small rodents, snakes, as well as other birds are among their favorite foods.
Cuban Snails Put This Island in the News Again
Cuba is known for a lot of things after becoming famous due to its country’s revolution, the Cold War and Cuba-Missile crisis, its amazing national baseball team and the tropical location. However, snails don’t normally make the list of great things out of Cuba. However, the island is indeed home to a unique species not found anywhere else, the painted snail or Polymita. The shell produced by the snail is a vibrant color spectrum, and the snail has six different versions on the island in total.
Smuggling and Trafficking
Like many regions in Central America, Cuba has its problems with illegal wildlife trade. Due to a vibrant market of illegal buyers who want exotic animals for their private collections, the Polymita snail population has been almost decimated. They were officially in critically endangered status by any biological standard. When a photographer assigned by National Geographic magazine, Bruno D’Amicis, worked on a story about the Cuban snails, he became involved in trying to save them as well. In addition to the trade in wild animals, any kind of tropical snails were also targets for trinkets and cheap jewelry due to their colorful shells, which didn’t help matters. D’Amicis hoped the story and his efforts would educate readers otherwise.
The Polymita snails normally live along the eastern coast of Cuba, eating moss and lichen which in turn gives the animal’s shell its famous colors. In addition, because the snails are so voracious on the moss, the local trees are not overrun by the moss and lichen, which improves their health as well. Other animals benefit from the snails as well.
Warnings & Education
The Polymita snails have not gone ignored locally. Cuban biologists have been warning farmers about the endangered species regularly. The Cuban coffee industry depends on the health of its trees, and the snail contributes to that. When the farmers learned of the connection, they realized why the snail needed protection as well. Biologists in the meantime have been working actively to increase the population of the snails with supported breeding as well as helping authorities block poaching.
The big challenge is to show enough people in Cuba that the Polymita snails are worth more to the country in total alive than as trinket shells or blackmarket animal collections. With only one place on earth that they survive on, Cuba, once the snails are gone, they are truly extinct, which is a tragedy the biologists are working hard to stop.
D’Amicis and Cuban biologists have recognized the need to protect the Polymita snails as well as focused on educating as many as possible on the value of the snails. Time will tell if the efforts were in time. However, for Cuba, a tropical snail has once again put the Caribbean island in the news again, and this time for a reason the world should want to support.
Connecting Wales: How ‘Hiraeth’ Has Become More Than an Untranslatable Word
A glimpse of your home country. Maybe the color of its flag. A building you grew up in, a street you visited as a child. Each memory can create an instant connection with something deep in our souls. A feeling, an utterance, or the clenching of our heart can all recall days from our past. More than nostalgia, more than yearning, more than heartache, these feelings for the people of Wales have been distilled into a single phrase: hiraeth.
Not a word pulled from your favorite Lord of the Rings book, hiraeth is something much more complex, much deeper, and far more nuanced. Likened to the English reference to nostalgia, or the feelings of saudade in Portuguese, hiraeth is similar yet dissimilar to all of the feelings that we have since mentioned. For the Welsh, hiraeth is more than a phrase, more than a word, and more than a feeling.
Exploring Feelings of Hiraeth With People Who Experience It
By this point in our conversation, you are either all-in on the idea of hiraeth or you’ve simply glossed over the concept. For people who have experienced those pangs of nostalgia and golden memories of years gone by, the feeling can almost be translated. Marian Brosschot is a Welsh language officer working in the city of Trelew, Patagonia. Marian has spoken extensively on the subject of hiraeth throughout their work stating, “It’s a kind of longing for a person, place, or time that you can’t get back to… a kind of unattainable longing.”
The word hiraeth is formed out of two roots, “hir” meaning longand “aeth” meaning grief or sorrow. Due to the extensive nature of the term and how complex the feelings are that it is meant to convey, a one-to-one translation has been deemed all but impossible by Sioned Davies, a Professor Emeritus at the School of Welsh at Cardiff University. Davies would go on to explain that the depth of cultural importance was beyond the scope of a traditional translation.
The word ‘hiraeth’ isn’t something new to Wales or Welsh individuals traveling abroad. The word is connected with deep pain and is consistently found in some of the earliest poems throughout the region. Referred to as the Hen Penillion, early Welsh poems plead after their purpose by targeting ‘cruel hiraeth’ that weakens their heart, imbues them with grief, and feels them with a sense of purpose. For however dark this description sounds, poets of the age also imbued hiraeth with a sense of revival, inspired by the romantic period of Welsh culture in the 19th Century.
Hiraeth and the Importance of Back Immigration
More than just a term calling back to days of poems long gone, hiraeth is an important concept to the cultural identity of emigrants, a point emboldened by the work of Bill Jones, professor and specialist of Welsh Modern History. Jones work focuses largely on emigration throughout the 19th century, and it is through this work that hiraeth has gained some further understanding.
Through Jones work as a professor of Welsh Modern History he has uncovered emigrant guidebooks that detail their experiences of hiraeth for not just the country of Wales, but the people, places, and landscapes that they are leaving behind. Jones would use this to potentially argue for an explanation as to why Wales has such a high percentage of ‘back migration’, leading to emigrants returning from abroad for the comforts of home.
As more people learn of the importance of hiraeth, the sentiment itself is enjoying a continued revival. For readers from Wales, does hiraeth ever beckon you’?
Local Artist From Philadelphia Sets Record For BIGGEST DRAWING in the WORLD
Are you the kind of person that likes to doodle in your spare time? Maybe you fancy yourself an artist and have put together a few pieces for a local art show. No matter what your background or familiarity with the art world, people like Dyymond Whipper-Young deserve to get some recognition for their work. Whipper-Young is an artist and art teacher from Philadelphia who set her sights on the largest drawing in the world created by a single person. In attempting this feat, Whipper-Young would have to outdo the work of Xiamoi Italia and FRA! who landed the record on November 3rd of 2020 in Altomonte, Italy.
The Old Record: Meet Francesco Caporale
Francesco Caporale, Italy (FRA!) is a graphic designer, illustrator, and art director operating out of Milan, Italy. Born and raised in Almonte, Francesco would become inspired by the varying drawings and images uploaded to the DoodleDream.it platform, a website crafted by Xiaomi Italia. Francesco would select his favorite pieces submitted through the platform before creating a massive, sprawling image featuring his rendition.
FRA would require five days to craft his record-breaking picture, first created in the central square located in Altomonte. More than 567 square meters were brimming with imagined characters, objects, and items inspired by artists from around the world. While massive in scope, FRA!s work was not permanent as the installation was removed upon certification for its place in the record books.
Following the completion of the project, the artwork itself was donated to Altomonte the municipality to parcel out sales to support the community. Individuals interested in bringing home history can purchase a piece from Altomonte at their convenience. Additionally, Xiaomi Italia would release a commemorative series of smartphones to remember the project thanks to a built-in artistic photograph application.
Dyymond Whipper-Young Breaks the Record
Heading back across the ocean we find ourselves in Philadelphia where Dyymond Whipper-Young has begun to work on her own dream project. Whipper-Young is an art teacher from Philadelphia who was inspired by the works of FRA! The 24-year-old art teacher knew that there was a ton of work ahead of her, but she was driven by her passion and love for the work. Whipper-Young stated in a video that was released to the press, “The purpose is to inspire people to find their own creative pulse.” Whipper-Young would go on to detail how creativity is imbued ‘in all of us’ and that the exhibition was her outlet and her way of inspiring others.
For Whipper-Young, the project would not take place within a city square like FRA, and instead, it would be installed at the Mandell Center located within The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Whipper-Young would settle on working with Crayola Project XL Markers to create the art piece, a job that would take more than 63 hours spread across five days of effort. The final result was an image that spanned 6,500 square feet.
Upon completion, Whipper-Young would dub the piece, “Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition” The CEO at The Franklin Institute was effusive in his praise of the piece as Larry Dubinski would go on to say that the goal of the institute was to ‘inspire and empower’ people of every age and from every walk of life to create and explore their curiosities. These words were echoed by Whipper-Young after her piece was unleashed at the institute. Whipper-Young would go on to say, “It has sea, it has land, it has space. You’ll really get to experience those things once you’re in IDEAworks.”
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