Denali National Park’s Sled Dog Puppycam Is About to Become Your New Obsession

iStock
iStock

One of the great benefits of technology is that is can bring people from all over the world together to simultaneously witness the same event. And sometimes that event involves puppies. Adorable puppies. And lots of them. Case in point: the sled dog puppy webcam at Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve.

Sled dogs have been a part of the park’s tradition pretty much since it was first established in 1917. Harry Karstens, the first superintendent of the preserve (back when it was Mount McKinley National Park), was an experienced dog musher who employed a team of canines to get around. Since then, the park's kennel has continued to provide valuable transportation—helping rangers to patrol, carry supplies, and create trails, even in the biting cold. They’re a particularly valuable resource, as the federally protected area does not allow motorized vehicles.

But before they can get to work, they need to grow up. On August 4, 2017, resident pupper Clove (who staffers call “one of the most opinionated dogs in the yard”) gave birth to a healthy litter of seven pups, five males and two females. And, yes, they’re absolutely precious.

"They are doing great,” kennel manager Jen Raffaeli reported just a few days later. "They are just nursing and sleeping and growing."

Those viewers lucky enough to be tuned into the puppycam around that time got a first glimpse at the adorable pups, who will eventually help patrol the park and serve as some of its most adorable ambassadors. In 2016, Raffaeli told CBS Sunday Morning: "We always joke that they're the happiest government employees you’ll ever meet." It only takes a few minutes of tuning in to see that she’s not joking.

For even more sled pup adorableness, check out Denali’s dog blog, meet the pooches online, watch them in action in person, and even consider adopting one once their government service has come to an end.

Paula the Two-Toed Sloth Is Officially the Oldest Sloth in Captivity

Sleeping two-toed sloth.
Sleeping two-toed sloth.
tane-mahuta/iStock via Getty Images

For many sloths, surviving a trip to the ground is an impressive achievement. As the BBC reports, a two-toed sloth living in a German zoo has done something even more monumental: Guinness World Records confirms that Paula the sloth has officially been deemed the world's oldest sloth at age 50.

Born in South America, Paula has lived at the Halle Zoo in central Germany since she was at least 2 years old. For nearly half her life, zookeepers thought Paula was male. It wasn't until 1995 that an ultrasound scan revealed her true sex and her name was changed from Paul to Paula.

The zoo chose June 14 as the date to mark Paula's birthday, and on June 14, 2019, the sloth celebrated half a century on Earth. Two-toed sloths typically live about 20 years in the wild and 30 to 40 years in zoos. At 50 years old, Paula now holds the record for oldest sloth in captivity, and likely the world.

The zoo staff credits Paula's longevity to having a stable, caring home. If her genes played any role, they won't be passed down to future generations: Paula doesn't have any offspring. After discovering that he was really a she, the zoo tried pairing Paula with male breeding partners. Though she became pregnant three times, her cubs didn't survive.

After a long and interesting life, Paula has earned her place as one of the most beloved animals at the Halle Zoo. Her caretakers showed their appreciation on her birthday by making her a special meal of cooked maize and vegetables—her favorite foods.

[h/t BBC]

‘Soft and Cuddly’ Venomous Puss Caterpillars Have Been Spotted in at Least 3 States

Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The puss caterpillar is cute, cuddly, and coming to ruin your day.

USA Today reports that the highly venomous creature, also known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, or asp, has recently been spotted in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina. Underneath its furry coat are tiny, potent spines that break off and attach themselves to your skin, causing excruciating pain and creating a hematoma, a bruise-like wound under your skin where blood has leaked from blood vessels.

According to University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, the caterpillar is dangerous partly because the sting of those spines becomes more painful over time. “It builds for a long time in a frightening way. No one expects stings to gain in impact or discomfort, and these will,” he told USA Today. “It packs quite a wallop.”

For one victim in Dade City, Florida, even medically administered morphine didn’t alleviate her agony. “It felt like someone was drilling into my bones,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I cried and pleaded with God for hours to make it stop.”

puss caterpillar
going on going on, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If one does happen to inch its way onto you, curb the instinct to flail about or swat at random—trying to brush off the adorable nightmare just increases the possibility of those sinister spines sticking to your skin. Instead, have someone carefully and calmly remove the insect with a twig or a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. Then, take a shower and wash your clothes to minimize further exposure to leftover spines.

As traumatizing as the experience sounds, your chances of meeting one of these fun-sized villains are hearteningly slim. Wagner explains that they’re particularly scarce above the Mason-Dixon line, and not even very common in southern states, where they’re usually spotted.

In short, this is just another scientific reason why you should stick to petting dogs.

[h/t USA Today]

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