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The Time Cats Delivered the Mail in Belgium

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Over the years, humans have used many types of animals to deliver mail. Delivery by dogsled was once a thing in Alaska and Canada; Alaska also gave reindeer a try. Horses powered the Pony Express, of course, and pigeons have been used to deliver messages since ancient Greece.

But cats? Cats have minds of their own. Unlike dogs, they typically don’t care about pleasing you. In fact, it seems they sometimes specifically go out of their way to spite their owners:

With all of this feline indifference and general propensity for lazing around, it makes you wonder what on earth the city of Liège, Belgium, was thinking when they hired 37 cats to deliver the mail in the 1870s. Messages were fastened around the animals’ necks in waterproof bags so the citizens of Liège and surrounding villages could easily communicate with each other. “Unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail-cats, the messages will be delivered with rapidity and safety," The New York Times reported.

Safety? Maybe. Rapidity? Definitely not. Though one enterprising cat made it to his destination in less than five hours, the others took up to a day to deliver the mail to their own homes—it would seem the cats were not terribly interested in relaying messages in a timely fashion. It should come as no surprise that the service was extremely short-lived.

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Animals
Watch as Hummingbirds Fly, Drink, and Flap Their Tiny Wings in Slow Motion
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Hummingbirds have more feathers per inch than nearly any other bird, but it’s hard to fully appreciate their luminescent colors when they beat their wings between 70 to 200 times per second.

For the enjoyment of birders everywhere, National Geographic photographer Anand Varma teamed up with bird biologists and used a high-speed, high-resolution camera to capture the tiny creatures in slow motion as they flew through wind tunnels, drank artificial nectar from a glass vessel, and shook water from their magnificent plumage.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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