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Sneak Peek #2: Animals at War

The countdown continues! The new Jan/Feb issue is just a few days from hitting newsstands, and we're eager to give you a glimpse of some more content. This issue, we've got a spread on animal heroes who served in war. There's a dog that earned a Purple Heart, a pigeon that won the animal version of the Victoria Cross, and then, there's this incredible bear. I'll let the author take it from here:

Bearing a Heavy Load

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at 6.06.38 PMDuring World War II, the Polish army was stationed in Iran. On a lark, a group of soldiers gave the locals some canned food in exchange for a baby bear. They named the cub Wotjek-- or Smiling Warrior-- and fed him condensed milk from an empty vodka bottle. Later he developed a taste for marmalade, beer and even cigarettes. "He was like a big dog," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski. "No one was scared of him."

Well, almost no one. One day, Wotjek spotted an open door in the barracks, and upon wandering in to investigate, he found an Arab spy. The intruder simply cowered in the corner until Wotjek's keepers came back. In the presence of soldiers and a bear, the spy was quick to confess and Wotjek earned two beers and extra playtime for his work. Soon after, the men accepted Wotjek as one of their own and registered him as a soldier in the 22 Artillery Supply Company. Over the next few months, Wotjek proved himself equally valuable on the battle front. He carried shells for cannon operators during the brutal Battle of Monte Cassino "“ and reportedly never dropped a crate. After the war, Wotjek retired to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland.

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For more incredible stories of animals in war time, be sure to pick up the new magazine. Better yet, pair the subscription with a brand new mental_floss T-shirt and save yourself some money! Click here for details.

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travel
The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas
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iStock

When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

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Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, Top10RealEstateDeals.com reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Top10RealEstateDeals.com]

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