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11 Tributes to Cecil the Lion

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Cecil was a lion living in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. For seven years, he wore a tracking collar from Oxford University as a participant in a study of lions. Information from the collar was sent via satellite to researchers studying the lives of lions in order to aid conservation efforts. The lion was a park favorite, observed and photographed by many visitors to Hwange. Last month, 13-year-old Cecil was lured out of the park and killed in a trophy hunt by American dentist Walter Palmer. While some regulations appear to have been circumvented, lion hunting was not illegal in Zimbabwe at the time (lion, elephant, and leopard hunting have since been banned in the area surrounding the park). Regardless of which laws were broken, the world reacted with sadness and outrage. Dr. Palmer went into seclusion as his business was picketed, and Cecil became a symbol of threatened African wildlife. An outpouring of support had brought over £550,000 in donations to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) for lion research. And quite a few artists and others were inspired to create tributes to the real-life Lion King.     

1. On-Site Painting

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Minnesota artist Mark Balma was on hand at the protests in front of Walter Palmer’s dental office, staging his own kind of protest. He set up an easel in the parking lot, pulled out the paints, and painted Cecil’s portrait right then and there. Balma has received quite a few offers for the painting. When he sells it, probably by auction, proceeds will go to WildCRU. Signed prints will also be available.

2. Sand Sculpture

Sand sculptor Lee Stoops sculpted a tribute to Cecil in the sands of Delray Beach, Fla. “It really struck a cord with me,” Stoops told the Palm Beach Post. “We were just trying to reflect on what happened so it doesn’t happen again.”

That sentiment is echoed in the creation of many of these artistic tributes.

3. Street Art

Belgian street artist DZIA painted a few murals in Glasgow, Scotland, over the past week, and a couple of them featured Cecil the lion in all his majesty. See more Glasgow wildlife by DZIA at StreetArtNews. 

4. A Regal Portrait

Artist Aaron Blaise was an animator on the movie The Lion King. He was upset at the news about Cecil and was inspired to paint him in a manner reminiscent of Mufasa in the sky. You can see a time-lapse video of its creation at Blaise’s blog. 

5. Beanie Baby

Ty Warner has announced that Ty, Inc. will produce a Beanie Baby lion named Cecil as a tribute to the late Zimbabwean lion. All profits from the sale of the plush toy will go to WildCRU.

6. Selfies for Cecil

A Facebook community called Cecil the Lion sprung up to commemorate the cat’s life and memory. They recently launched a project called Selfies for Cecil, inviting supporters to send in selfies with the hashtag #CecilLives.

You are invited to submit selfies, showing a landmark or scene from your town. You need to hold a homemade creative sign INCLUDING BOTH the “#CecilLives” hash tag and your town/ country in your selfie.

The selfies will be incorporated into a video on the www.CecilTheLion.org website and Facebook page and will be sent to our media contacts in advance of WORLD LION DAY August 10, 2015. We want to show the world who you are. You are Cecil: You are his spirit.

Selfies must be submitted by August 6 to be included in the video.

7., 8., 9., and 10. More Art

The Cecil the Lion Facebook community has received artistic tributes to Cecil from all over the world.

From Joery in The Dominican Republic. 

From Daniel in Monterrey, Mexico.

From Lucy in Australia.

From Luccas in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

11. Empire State Building Light Show

KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

The Oceanic Preservation Society and the filmmakers of the documentary Racing Extinction collaborated to bring a light show to the Empire State Building on Saturday night. For three hours, images of 160 species of threatened animals were projected onto the building, including tigers, lemurs, manta rays, and Cecil himself. See pictures of the event at HuffPo.

Cecil has also been honored in editorial cartoons, video, and tears.

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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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RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

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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