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The Time Ronald Reagan Was Nearly Strangled By A Chimp

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The fact that actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan once co-starred with a chimpanzee in Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) provided him with a long-running source of embarrassment after his political career took off decades later. The movie was, according to Johnny Carson, “a favorite of old movie buffs and Democrats” while other critics went on to cite Reagan as “the first president in history to be out-acted by a chimp.” In his own words, “I fought a losing battle with a scene-stealer with a built-in edge: he was a chimpanzee!” Making the film was certainly not monkey business; in fact, one unfortunate run-in with its leading ape nearly cost Reagan his life.

Known professionally as Peggy, the trained chimp in question was actually a female playing a role designed for the opposite sex (this was disguised by a tuft of fur carefully situated between her legs). According to witnesses, the vivacious and curious Peggy had been coached to perform hundreds of actions on command, including weeping, snarling, and puckering up.

One day on the set, Peggy’s natural inquisitiveness got the better of her. Spying Reagan’s necktie, she grabbed it with both hands and began to pull. Startled, the actor tried to back away, but the harder he resisted, the harder she pulled, nearly suffocating our fortieth president in the process. Eventually, Reagan was able to break free of her grasp—but by then, he later recalled, the knot in his tie was “as small as my fingernail.” Far too tight to be untied by hand, the garment had to be cut off Reagan’s neck by a nearby crewmember.

To see Peggy (and Reagan) actually following the script, here’s a brief snippet from the film:

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

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
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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