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7 Videos of People Rescuing Animals

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Some people can be pretty terrible to animals—but most people will try to help cuddly (and not-so-cuddly) creatures when they can. Here are some of the most incredible videos of people saving animals.

1. Surfers Saving a Shark

Ordinarily, surfers and great whites aren’t exactly friends, but when this great white shark pup washed up on a beach with a hook caught in its mouth, these brave surfers pulled it out of the water, removed the hook barehanded and then helped it get back in the water. Just a warning, you might want to watch this one on mute as the narration of the woman filming is more annoying than it is useful to understanding what’s happening.

2. A Diver Freeing A Dolphin

The coolest thing about this video isn’t that the diver helped remove the hook and cut the fishing line that was tangled around this poor dolphin, but that the animal seemingly knew the diver could help him. In fact, the group of divers probably wouldn’t have even noticed the dolphin’s predicament if it hadn’t come swimming right up to them and shown them something was wrong. The rescue sequence begins at about 3:30.

3. A Senior Climbing to Save A Kitten

Somehow a tiny kitten ended up on a tiny ledge, several stories off the ground. It meowed over and over, hoping someone would come to its aid; these cries managed to attract the attention of 60-year-old Kay Leclaire, who was jogging in the area. Leclaire just happens to be an expert climber who has previously scaled Mount Everest and is the oldest woman to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents, so she quickly headed home and grabbed her gear. By the end of the day, the kitten was not only back on the ground, but adopted by a loving family.

4. Rescuers Freeing An Owl

This poor gray horned owl flew into a chain link fence and got caught. Fortunately, Susan Clark of the Topanga Animal Rescue and Gary Strauss of Life Energy Institute were able to help cut the links away, free the owl, and check him for injuries. Perhaps one of the most amazing things about this video is just how calm the owl remains throughout the whole ordeal.

5. Power Company Workers Helping A Seagull

Somehow this poor bird managed to get his head caught between two electrical lines. Luckily for him, Nova Scotia Power sent out worker Yvon Blin to help free him. Unlike the owl stuck in the fence, this guy wasn’t particularly helpful to his rescuer—there’s a reason owls have a reputation for being wise while seagulls aren’t considered particularly bright.

6. People Pulling A Moose From A Swimming Pool

Perhaps they should change the expression “stubborn as a mule” to “stubborn as a moose.” After all, this guy seems to be doing all he can to help fight the team of nine people who are doing everything they can to help pull him out of the pool. While this video makes it seem like the moose might have just been enjoying a swim, an original, full-length version showed that he kept slipping further and further into the deep end and was unable to get back out.

7. Rescuers Cutting A Moose From The Ice

It seems not all moose are so difficult while being rescued. This big guy was relatively patient as he waited for people to cut away and smash the ice that was holding him in place. Of course, he was also probably trying to conserve his energy in the freezing waters.

While I’ve never been a part of a big-scale rescue like this, I always try to help stray dogs so they can be returned to their owners. Even knowing that I could have saved a pup from being hit by a car is a nice feeling. I’m sure any of you who have saved a critter have similar rewarding feelings—and of course, if you have any good stories, feel free to share them in the comments.

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Love Scratching Furniture?
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Allergy suffering aside, cat ownership has proven health benefits. A feline friend can aid in the grieving process, reduce anxiety, and offer companionship.

The con in the cat column? They have no reservations about turning your furniture into shredded pleather. No matter how expensive your living room set, these furry troublemakers will treat it with the respect accorded to a college futon. Do cats do this out of some kind of spite? Are they conspiring with Raymour & Flanigan to get you to keep updating home decor?

Neither. According to cat behaviorists, cats gravitate toward scratching furniture mostly because that love seat is in a really conspicuous area [PDF]. As a result, cats want to send a message to any other animal that may happen by: namely, that this plush seating belongs to the cat who marked it. Scratching provides both visual evidence (claw marks) as well as a scent marker. Cat paws have scent glands that can leave smells that are detectable to other cats and animals.

But it’s not just territorial: Cats also scratch to remove sloughed-off nail tips, allowing fresh nail growth to occur. And they can work out their knotted back muscles—cramped from sleeping 16 hours a day, no doubt—by kneading the soft foam of a sectional.

If you want to dissuade your cat from such behavior, purchasing a scratching post is a good start. Make sure it’s non-carpeted—their nails can get caught on the fibers—and tall enough to allow for a good stretch. Most importantly, put it near furniture so cats can mark their hangout in high-traffic areas. A good post might be a little more expensive, but will likely result in fewer trips to Ethan Allen.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
7 Fun Facts for Elephant Appreciation Day
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Happy Elephant Appreciation Day! Celebrate the occasion with some facts about everyone's favorite gentle giant. 

1. ELEPHANTS CAN RECOGNIZE OTHER ELEPHANT CARCASSES.

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The University of Sussex's Karen McComb told National Geographic that elephants "become excited and agitated if they come across a dead elephant," and, in particular, will investigate skulls and tusks. McComb teamed up with researchers at the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya to study the behavior, showing wild elephants a range of objects that included skulls. They found that the elephants examined skulls—and tusks in particular—of their own kind twice as long as other skulls, and examined tusks six times as long as they did pieces of wood. They were even able to recognize elephant skulls with the tusks removed, but didn't show preference for certain elephant skulls over others, which suggests they didn't know which skulls belonged to their own relatives. "Animals that are intensely social in life may be most likely to display an interest in their dead," McComb told National Geographic. "But what goes on in their minds while they are doing this is a total mystery."

2. THEY'RE SCARED OF BEES.

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Forget about mice scaring off elephants: When farmers need to keep elephants away from their crops, they should use bees. Researchers in Kenya discovered that even the recorded sound of buzzing bees was enough to make elephants retreat—and cause them to emit a low-frequency sound, inaudible to humans, that warns other elephants of the bees' presence.

"It's impossible to cover Africa in electric fences," Lucy King, author of the paper, told The Huffington Post. "The infrastructure doesn't exist in many places and it would restrict animals' movement." But something like a bee fence—hives strung on strong wires a certain distance apart that would move when elephants walked into them, disturbing the hives—"could be a better way to direct elephants away from farmers' crops," she said.

3. THEY MIGHT UNDERSTAND POINTING.

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Humans often use pointing as a way to nonverbally get a message across, though not many other animals grasp the concept. But according to a two-month study of 11 tame African elephants, these pachyderms might be able to: When presented with two identical buckets and pointed in the direction of the one containing food, elephants picked up on the cue fairly consistently: Elephants had a success rate of 67.5 percent (1-year-old humans have a success rate of 72.7 percent). But an earlier study of Asian elephants indicated that they don’t notice pointing gestures, which is a bit of a mystery.

4. ONE ELEPHANT CAN "TALK." 

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Koshik, an elephant in a South Korean zoo, developed the ability to imitate the sounds of five words he's heard from his trainer—annyeong (hello), anja (sit down), aniya (no), nuwo (lie down), and joa (good)—by sticking his trunk in his mouth. The scientists who first noticed Koshik’s ability speculate that he learned to “talk” because he was lonely.

5. THEY'RE DIGITIGRADES.

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It's Latin for "finger walking," and what it means is that elephants walk on their toes (there are five of them, as well a sixth false toe). According to the book Mammal Anatomy: An Illustrated Guidemost of the animals' weight "rests on a broad pad of elastic tissue behind the toes" which "acts as a shock absorber and prevents the skeleton from jolting too much when the animals walk. It also allows elephants to move surprisingly quietly despite their size."

6. AN ELEPHANT PREGNANCY LASTS ABOUT TWO YEARS.

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If you thought being pregnant for nine months was a long time, be glad you're not an elephant, which can be pregnant for up to 680 days, according to the BBC. All that time in the oven has a benefit, though: Elephant calves are born with highly-developed brains, capable of learning their herd's complex social structures and ready to put their trunks to use.

7. NINETY-SIX ELEPHANTS ARE KILLED IN AFRICA EVERY DAY.

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Unfortunately, elephant poaching remains a very big problem: An estimated 35,000 elephants are killed annually, their tusks sold illegally in the ivory market. Do the math, and that comes out to nearly 96 elephants every day. Find out what you can do to help elephants and stop poaching at 96Elephants.org.

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