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What 11 Popular Zoo Animals Taste Like (According to People Who Tried Them)

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ThinkStock

Have you ever visited the local zoo and found yourself wondering how a juicy hunk of boiled penguin breast might taste? Just about every creature under the sun has been sautéed, deep-fried, and/or sprinkled over a pizza at some point in human history.

(DISCLAIMER: A few of the species on this list are either threatened or endangered. In addition to being ethically dubious, their consumption is illegal in many countries. This article is designed to help satisfy your curiosity and not stoke your appetite.)

1. Elephant

Elephant feet: part of a complete breakfast! While exploring Mozambique in 1864, Scottish missionary David Livingstone was served this pedal delicacy, cooked in the “native fashion,” one morning. Finding it delicious, the traveler wrote, “It is a whitish mass, slightly gelatinous, and sweet like marrow.” Best of all, the meal came with a healthy side of beer.

2. Giraffe

“Properly prepared, and cooked rare,” pens celebrity chef Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, “giraffe’s meat steak can be better than steak or venison. The meat has a natural sweetness that may not be to everybody’s taste, but is certainly to mine when grilled over an open fire.”

3. Penguin

A particularly unflattering description of penguin meat composed by a Belgian seaman in 1898 suggests that it won’t be replacing chicken anytime soon: “If it’s possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish, and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete.”

4. Galapagos Tortoise

These hardy reptiles were a dietary staple to traveling sailors throughout the 19th century. Though many compared the delicacy to fine veal, a young Charles Darwin was decidedly less enthusiastic. “[The] breastplate roasted … is very good,” his journal grants, “and the young tortoises make excellent soup, but otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent.” 

5. Lion

Apparently, the king of the beasts makes for one tasty taco. A Tampa Bay restaurant began selling these $35 entrees last year before removing them from the menu a few months later. "[It's] surprisingly tasty," said one customer of this exotic grub. "The taste is kind like venison, and the texture is kind of like gator."

6. Python

Looking to capitalize on Florida’s decades-long Burmese python invasion, Evan’s Neighborhood Pizza of Fort Myers now offers “Everglades Pizza” topped with slivers of these 20-foot snakes. “It tastes like chicken but chewier,” said one customer.

7. Camel

It’s the perfect treat for hump day! Eating camel is a fairly common practice in much of the world, especially the Middle East. Chef Anissa Halou claims it reminds him of “a cross between beef and lamb.” Camel steaks are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to conventional red meat in much of Europe and even parts of the U.S.

8. Gorilla

Gorillas are widely hunted down and devoured in parts of Africa, and the simians’ flesh is routinely sold at nearby markets as “bush meat." Flavor-wise, many have cited their cuts as rich, smoky, and veal-like. Speaking of primates, if you’d like to find out what humans taste like without wandering into Hannibal Lecter territory, Vsauce recently posted an excellent video on the subject.

9. Hippopotamus

In the words of author and hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick, “It is my personal opinion that hippo meat is one of the finest of game foods … The taste is mild, less than lamb and more than beef, slightly more marbled than usual venison. It tastes exactly like, well, hippo.”

10. Peacock

If you’re searching for an exotic alternative to traditional Thanksgiving fare, look no further. The eponymous host of the popular YouTube series “Dave’s Exotic Foods” stated in a special holiday episode that brined peacock sports a light and very turkey-like flavor. However, if certain medieval critics are to be believed, stocking up on some gas-ex first might be a necessary precaution. 

11. Sloth

“It was really, really tough and there really wasn’t much meat,” says American composer Aaron Paul Low, who helped catch and eat an unfortunate sloth on a trip to Peru in 2012. Tired of subsisting on nothing but indigenous fruits, Low claims his party “begrudgingly ate such natural wonders as armadillo, turtle, crocodile, toucan,” and many others. Sloth meat, he says, isn't for the weak-stomached. “[It was] one of the few absolutely disgusting animals we ate.” These adorable tree-climbers are illegal to hunt, but a few luckless specimens still get munched on every year.

BONUS: Panda

Archaeological evidence suggests that prehistoric humans once hunted giant pandas with spears some 10,000 years ago. Since then, the practice has fallen out of favor and no record detailing their flavor is known to exist. However, in 1928, Teddy Roosevelt’s sons Kermit and Theodore IV hunted and ate one while visiting China, but neglected to document its taste.

All images courtesy of ThinkStock 

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
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20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
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They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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