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People-Eating Nile Crocodiles Identified in Southern Florida

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South Florida already has its share of threats, from tornadoes to flesh-eating bacteria lurking in ocean waters. Now residents can add people-eating crocodiles to the list.

Nile crocodiles, which can grow to 16 feet in length and tip the scales at 1600 pounds, have been positively identified near Miami, herpetologists confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel Thursday. (One was discovered as a hatching on the porch of a home.) The crocs cause a reported 200 fatalities in sub-Saharan Africa annually. According to National Geographic, the animals mostly dine on fish "but it will attack almost anything unfortunate enough to cross its path, including zebras, small hippos, porcupines, birds, and other crocodiles. It will also scavenge carrion, and can eat up to half its body weight at a feeding."

The researchers, who recently published their findings in the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology [PDF], don't know how the species made its way to southern Florida. Two of the four animals found so far—which were captured between 2010 and 2014—are related, and a third may also be kin. Their genetic profile isn’t a match for crocs at local habitats like Disney's Animal Kingdom, so escape is an unlikely explanation. (The fourth croc did escape from a "safari" theme park on a reservation and lived in the wild for four years, but the researchers were unable to obtain a tissue sample from it.) It’s possible that an animal smuggler lost track of them or that someone intentionally released them in the Everglades. 

While it’s too early to tell if the Nile croc captures hint at an infestation, Florida has a history of struggling with invasive species. In 1931, a Cuban tree frog hitched a ride in packing materials before multiplying and gobbling up Florida’s delicious native frogs, and the state conducts an annual Burmese python hunt to corral the predator’s population in the Everglades. 

[h/t Orlando Sentinel]

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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
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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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