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YouTube // Great Big Story

The Kind-hearted Chaos of NYC’s Only Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

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YouTube // Great Big Story

You’re sitting in your third-floor office, minding your own business, when suddenly there’s a loud thud at the window. When you walk over to determine the source of the startling noise, you find a starling lying on the window ledge, looking stunned and hurt. What can you do? Well, if you’re in New York, you can don a pair of gloves, put the bird carefully in a box, and bring it on over to the Wild Bird Fund.

Every day at the rehabilitation center is a surprise, co-founder and director Rita McMahon tells Great Big Story in the video below. “You never know who’s gonna walk through that door, or what they’re holding in that box.”

The center is “something of a three-ring circus,” McMahon says—an assessment confirmed by a quick look inside. Ducks waddle unsupervised across the linoleum floor while pigeons whoosh through the air just above vet technicians’ heads.

In spite of the chaos, the center is mind-bogglingly successful, caring for thousands of injured birds every year. On average, half of the center’s avian patients will be released into the wild near the sites where they were found. Some of the birds are migratory and will continue on their journey, while local birds may return to their families or flocks.

To learn more about the center, check out the video below or visit the Wild Bird Fund website.

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

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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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