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13 Vintage Photos of Big Cats for International Cat Day

Getty Images
Getty Images

Happy International Cat Day! Get your feline fix with these vintage photos of big cats in action.

1. BIG CAT STARE DOWN

June 1928: In the same cage, a lion and a tiger are outstaring each other.

2. JUST A DOG AND HIS BOXER PALS

1950: A lion shares a cage with some boxers.

3. LION VS. LEOPARD

A woman circus performer, dressed in a leopard skin gladiator costume, places her head in a lion's mouth. (Date unknown.)

4. A VERY TIRED LEOPARD CUB

1935: A Leopard cub in a cage at the zoo.

5. PUMA BINGE-WATCH

1955: Kiba, a South American puma sleeping in the front room of her master's home, while the family watches television.

6. LOUNGING LION

1930: A lion lies on a couch while his trainer kneels beside him.

7. GIVE A CAT A BONE

June 1956: A three-month-old tiger cub abandoned by her mother at birth tackles a bone at the London Zoo.

8. A LITTLE R&R

1939: Habiba, a 10-year-old lion at Chessington Zoo in Surrey, relaxes while keeper Hans Brick manipulates its hind legs.

9. GAME ON

February 1937: The game hunter, Mr Gandar-Dower, and one of the cheetahs which he brought back to Hackbridge Kennels, Surrey, from Kenya.

10. BATH TIME

1940: Melvin Koaants cleaning the African Lion at Los Angeles Zoo.

11. BE TRUE TO YOUR TEETH

December 1936: George 'Tornado' Smith cleaning the teeth of his pet lioness, Briton, at the Kursaal amusement park in Southend, Essex. Smith is a stunt motorcycle rider on the wall of death sideshow at the park and Briton features in his act, riding in a sidecar.

12. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S MEETING WITH A LION CUB

July 1943: British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill with his wife Clementine holding a lion cub during a trip to London Zoo.

13. TIGER WEIGH-IN

July 1960: Frank Meakins weighs Doreen and Julie, twin tiger cubs, born at the Whipsnade Zoo, in May.

All photos and captions courtesy of Getty Images.

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NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
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technology
Researchers in Singapore Deploy Robot Swans to Test Water Quality
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

There's something peculiar about the new swans floating around reservoirs in Singapore. They drift across the water like normal birds, but upon closer inspection, onlookers will find they're not birds at all: They're cleverly disguised robots designed to test the quality of the city's water.

As Dezeen reports, the high-tech waterfowl, dubbed NUSwan (New Smart Water Assessment Network), are the work of researchers at the National University of Singapore [PDF]. The team invented the devices as a way to tackle the challenges of maintaining an urban water source. "Water bodies are exposed to varying sources of pollutants from urban run-offs and industries," they write in a statement. "Several methods and protocols in monitoring pollutants are already in place. However, the boundaries of extensive assessment for the water bodies are limited by labor intensive and resource exhaustive methods."

By building water assessment technology into a plastic swan, they're able to analyze the quality of the reservoirs cheaply and discreetly. Sensors on the robots' undersides measure factors like dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. The swans wirelessly transmit whatever data they collect to the command center on land, and based on what they send, human pilots can remotely tweak the robots' performance in real time. The hope is that the simple, adaptable technology will allow researchers to take smarter samples and better understand the impact of the reservoir's micro-ecosystem on water quality.

Man placing robotic swan in water.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

This isn't the first time humans have used robots disguised as animals as tools for studying nature. Check out this clip from the BBC series Spy in the Wild for an idea of just how realistic these robots can get.

[h/t Dezeen]

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iStock
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science
There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop
iStock
iStock

Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

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