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YouTube / Armatomic

The Time Australia Accidentally Overran Itself With Toads

YouTube / Armatomic
YouTube / Armatomic

Humans have a long history of clever ideas that go horribly wrong. Case in point: the time Australia introduced an invasive species to fight a native species. In 1935, Australia was overrun with the cane grub (aka "greyback cane grub"), a native insect that was devouring Queensland's sugarcane fields. In other countries, the same problem had been solved by introducing cane toads, ravenous toads that could eat the beetles. After some planning, Australians released tens of thousands of cane toads into the fields.

Unfortunately, in Australia, the cane toads didn't do much to combat the grub problem—the sugarcane fields weren't an ideal environment for the toads to live in. Instead, the toads began multiplying exponentially, forcing out native species and creating a much bigger problem on top of the grub issue. Today, they have spread across a substantial portion of the continent, thriving in large part because they're toxic to most predators. Oops.

In 1988, director Mark Lewis released Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, a short, funny documentary on the whole mess. It's a fun watch, and tells the story of the toads from various perspectives—farmers, toad-lovers and -haters, scientists, and even the toads themselves (there are a lot of toad's-eye-view shots). The film is on YouTube in its entirely:

If you enjoyed that, there's a 2010 sequel, Cane Toads: The Conquest, also on YouTube.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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