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10 Members of Bob Ross's Happy Little Menagerie

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Famed TV painter and personality Bob Ross is known the world over for being one of history's sweetest, gentlest souls, and thankfully, that attitude extended well beyond his 18-by-24-inch canvasses. Ross was an ardent animal lover, a passion which often made its way onto The Joy of Painting. His crew of animal companions was a big hit among the fans, and showcased Ross's particular tastes in the creatures of the world. In lieu of cats, dogs, or guinea pigs, Ross took a liking to the very creatures you might expect to see in his happy little landscapes. Our list contains as many of those animals as we could find, and could also serve as lyrics to a Ross-themed revamp of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Many of the clips below are full episodes and you'll have to skim through a lot of them to get to the critters—or just watch the entire thing. Let's face it: You were probably going to anyway.

1. PEAPOD THE POCKET SQUIRREL

No single animal got more airtime on The Joy of Painting than Peapod—a tiny little squirrel that, according to Ross, liked to sit in his pocket. While viewers never got a glimpse of that particular bonding experience, we did get to see the painter feed his rodent friend with a bottle (“Aren’t they the most precious characters you’ve ever seen?”), and hold him in the palm of his hand while the furry friend slumbered away (“I like to just watch him sleep”). The “peekaboo squirrel” made a handful of appearances on the show, and was so beloved, he even inspired a successor (see #2).

2. PEAPOD JR.

While the original Peapod might’ve been a special rodent, he was part of a long tradition of Ross being absolutely nuts for squirrels. He often owned several at a time, caring for them in the early stages of life before releasing them out into his backyard. A rotating scurry of squirrels did guest spots on the series, and were a favorite among fans.

3. HOOT THE OWL

Ross’s love of birds was second only to squirrels. One of the avians who got airtime was Hoot the Owl, who appeared on The Joy of Painting when he was only a few weeks old. “He’s nothing but down,” Ross says in the clip above. “As I mentioned earlier, him and I both have the same hairdresser. We’ve both got the fuzz top up here.”

The cute “little devil” (Ross referred to animals almost exclusively as little “rascals” or “devils”), also appeared later on as a full grown bird. Ross had several friends who cared for rescues, including Diana Schaffer (or as he called her, the “bird lady”). On a visit to her home, Ross spent time with sparrows, a hawk, a wild turkey, a baby groundhog, and even whispered some of his sweet nothings to a blind robin, which you can see above.

As for Hoot, Ross reflected: “Old Hoot though, he's grown. By the time you see this show, he will have been turned loose and he’ll be long gone. By the time you see this he’ll probably have a little condo in Miami and house payments, a BMW in the driveway … he’ll be like the rest of us. All trapped with responsibilities. He may even have children of his own.”

4. A PAIR OF BABY ROBINS

When these fine feathered friends appeared on the show, Ross named them Richard and Cathy after a couple of the show's camera people. The hungry “little rascals” earned their names because of their similarities to their human counterparts: Richard’s hair was thinning and Cathy was chatty.

5. CHIMNEY SWIFTS

In the clip above, four of these cute "little devils” hang onto Ross’s shirt like we all would if given the opportunity.

6. LITTLE BIT, THE SHERMAN’S FOX SQUIRREL

What’s better than a squirrel? A giant squirrel of course. On one episode, Ross’s friend Cindy introduced him to a Sherman’s fox squirrel named Little Bit, and the rodent lover nearly lost his mind.

7. A GREAT HORNED OWL

Cindy also gave Ross the opportunity to spend some time with a great horned owl, who inspired this lovely reflection: “I like animals so much. I’m tellin' you, I could just about make a career out of taking care of these little rascals. They’re so beautiful. Isn’t that something?”

8. A SANDHILL CRANE

Another one of Cindy’s creatures was a rescue crane that was born with a twisted neck—a possible result of an abnormality that occurred in the egg. In addition to that encounter, there’s more footage of Ross with the Sherman’s fox squirrel.

9. DEER

While visiting another friend with rescue animals named Carmen Shaw, Ross met a pair of deer (“I love these little characters, I want to take them all home with me”) and a baby raccoon. In another episode, he cradled a baby deer and fawned over the fawn in those signature dulcet tones and all was right with the world. (He mentioned on both occasions that he couldn't imagine shooting Bambi.)

10. A BABY RACCOON

In a baby raccoon appearance, Ross fed one of the primarily nocturnal beasts with a bottle and said maybe his most disparaging animal comment ever, about how the mammals are sweet as babies, but grow up to be "pretty tough little characters." He also references burping the little guy, which tragically wasn't captured for posterity on film.

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Big Questions
Why Do We Dive With Sharks But Not Crocodiles?
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Why do we dive with sharks but not crocodiles?

Eli Rosenberg:

The issue is the assumption that sharks' instincts are stronger and more basic.

There are a couple of reasons swimming with sharks is safer:

1. Most sharks do not like the way people taste. They expect their prey to taste a certain way, like fish/seal, and we do not taste like that. Sharks also do not like the sensation of eating people. Bigger sharks like great whites enjoy prey with a high fat-bone ratio like seals. Smaller sharks enjoy eating fish, which they can gobble in one bite. So, while they might bite us, they pretty quickly decide “That’s not for me” and swim away. There is only one shark that doesn’t really care about humans tasting icky: that shark is our good friend the tiger shark. He is one of the most dangerous species because of his nondiscriminatory taste (he’s called the garbage can of the sea)!

2. Sharks are not animals that enjoy a fight. Our big friend the great white enjoys ambushing seals. This sneak attack is why it sometimes mistakes people for seals or sea turtles. Sharks do not need to fight for food. The vast majority of sharks species are not territorial (some are, like the blacktip and bull). The ones that are territorial tend to be the more aggressive species that are more dangerous to dive with.

3. Sharks attacked about 81 people in 2016, according to the University of Florida. Only four were fatal. Most were surfers.

4. Meanwhile, this is the saltwater crocodile. The saltwater crocodile is not a big, fishy friend, like the shark. He is an opportunistic, aggressive, giant beast.


5. Crocodiles attack hundreds to thousands of people every single year. Depending on the species, one-third to one-half are fatal. You have a better chance of survival if you played Russian roulette.

6. The Death Roll. When a crocodile wants to kill something big, the crocodile grabs it and rolls. This drowns and disorients the victim (you). Here is a PG video of the death roll. (There is also a video on YouTube in which a man stuck his arm into an alligator’s mouth and he death rolled. You don’t want to see what happened.)

7. Remember how the shark doesn’t want to eat you or fight you? This primordial beast will eat you and enjoy it. There is a crocodile dubbed Gustave, who has allegedly killed around 300 people. (I personally believe 300 is a hyped number and the true number might be around 100, but yikes, that’s a lot). Gustave has reportedly killed people for funsies. He’s killed them and gone back to his business. So maybe they won’t even eat you.


8. Sharks are mostly predictable. Crocodiles are completely unpredictable.

9. Are you in the water or by the edge of the water? You are fair game to a crocodile.

10. Crocodiles have been known to hang out together. The friend group that murders together eats together. Basks of crocodiles have even murdered hippopotamuses, the murder river horse. Do you think you don't look like an appetizer?

11. Wow, look at this. This blacktip swims among the beautiful coral, surrounded by crystal clear waters and staggering biodiversity. I want to swim there!

Oh wow, such mud. I can’t say I feel the urge to take a dip. (Thanks to all who pointed this out!)

12. This is not swimming with the crocodiles. More like a 3D aquarium.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Animals
10 Filling Facts About Turkeys
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Don’t be fooled by their reputation for being thoughtless. These roly-poly birds have a few tricks up their wings.

1. THE BIRDS WERE NAMED AFTER THE COUNTRY.

The turkey is an American bird, so why does it share its name with a country on the other side of the world? Laziness, mostly. Turkish traders had been importing African guinea fowl to Europe for some time when North American explorers started shipping M. gallopavo back to the Old World. The American birds looked kind of like the African “turkey-cocks,” and so Europeans called them “turkeys.” Eventually, the word “turkey” came to describe M. gallopavo exclusively.

2. THEY NEARLY WENT EXTINCT.

By the early 20th century, the combination of overzealous hunting and habitat destruction had dwindled the turkey populations down to 30,000. With the help of conservationists, the turkey made a comeback. The birds are now so numerous that they’ve become a nuisance in some parts of the country.

3. THEY’VE GOT TWO STOMACHS.

Like all birds, turkeys don’t have teeth, so they’ve got to enlist some extra help to break down their food. Each swallowed mouthful goes first into a chamber called a proventriculus, which uses stomach acid to start softening the food. From there, food travels to the gizzard, where specialized muscles smash it into smaller pieces.

4. FEMALE TURKEYS DON’T GOBBLE.

Turkeys of both sexes purr, whistle, cackle, and yelp, but only the males gobble. A gobble is the male turkey’s version of a lion’s roar, announcing his presence to females and warning his rivals to stay away. To maximize the range of their calls, male turkeys often gobble from the treetops.

5. THEY SLEEP IN TREES.

Due to their deliciousness, turkeys have a lot of natural predators. As the sun goes down, the turkeys go up—into the trees. They start by flying onto a low branch, then clumsily hop their way upward, branch by branch, until they reach a safe height.

6. BOTH MALE AND FEMALE TURKEYS HAVE WATTLES.

The wattle is the red dangly bit under the turkey’s chin. The red thing on top of the beak is called a snood. Both sexes have those, too, but they’re more functional in male turkeys. Studies have shown that female turkeys prefer mates with longer snoods, which may indicate health and good genes.

7. THEY HAVE REALLY GOOD VISION.

Turkey eyes are really, really sharp. On top of that, they’ve got terrific peripheral vision. We humans can only see about 180 degrees, but given the placement of their eyes on the sides of their heads, turkeys can see 270 degrees. They’ve also got way better color vision than we do and can see ultraviolet light.

8. THEY’RE FAST ON THE GROUND, TOO.

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at them, but turkeys can really book it when they need to. We already know they’re fast in the air; on land, a running turkey can reach a speed of up to 25 mph—as fast as a charging elephant.

9. THEY’RE SMART … BUT NOT THAT SMART.

Turkeys can recognize each other by sound, and they can visualize a map of their territory. They can also plan ahead and recognize patterns. In other ways, they’re very, very simple animals. Male turkeys will attack anything that looks remotely like a threat, including their own reflections in windows and car doors.

10. IN THE EVENT OF A TURKEY ATTACK, CALL THE POLICE.

They might look silly, but a belligerent turkey is no joke. Male turkeys work very hard to impress other turkeys, and what could be more impressive than attacking a bigger animal? Turkey behavior experts advise those who find themselves in close quarters with the big birds to call the police if things get mean. Until the authorities arrive, they say, your best bet is to make yourself as big and imposing as you possibly can.

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