There’s a Zoo for Sale on Craigslist (Animals Included)

If you’re an animal lover who has ever fantasized about owning a zoo—or a fan of Cameron Crowe movies with a 66 percent Rotten Tomatoes score—we’ve got good news: your wildest dream could be about to come true. The Ocala Star Banner reports that the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park, a private zoo in Crestview, Florida, is looking to sell its property, including its nearly 100 exotic animals. The strange part? They’re selling it via Craigslist.

Scroll past the $10 pair of artificial trees and a $75 hat commemorating the Atlanta Braves’s '95 World Series championship and you’ll see that, for $350,000, you can become the proud owner of a “ten acre, well maintained USDA Compliant Zoo … with over 90 happy and healthy animals including White Tiger, Bengal Tiger, African Lion, Patas monkeys, bob cats, baboons, wolves, otters, black bear, Fennec foxes, sloth, lemurs, llamas and more.” Haven’t a clue what Fennec foxes eat, or even what one looks like? No worries—the property’s current staff of zookeepers is coming along for the ride (though one assumes that their salaries won’t come out of the $350K you just forked over).

There’s also a gift shop (with inventory), a Stuff-a-Plush machine, a commissary, storage barns, and a half-acre of undeveloped property, in case you want to expand the animals’ current living quarters or even build your own home right in the zoo.

While the ad notes that this is a “Great business opportunity for someone who loves animals with a professional staff in place to care for them,” it’s worth noting that the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge only took over the property in 2013.

Bill Andersen, president and chairman of the Refuge’s board of directors, explained that they took over the property because it had fallen into a state of disrepair. The group has spent the past four years making massive improvements to the grounds and outbuildings. “While rescuing the animals initially was in keeping with their mission,” writes the Ocala Star Banner, “continuing to run a zoo is not.”

“We’ve spent an awful lot of time getting those critters happy and healthy, updating habitats, and providing them with a quality place to live,” Andersen said. “I think our zoo is in the best shape it’s ever been.”

Though Andersen has hopes that the City of Crestview and Okaloosa County might be interested in taking over the zoo, he believes the next best option would be a passionate animal lover who has the desire, and financial means, to keep the zoo running and the animals happy.

“It’s got to be a buyer who shares our concern for the welfare of these critters,” Andersen said.

Are you listening, Matt Damon?

Watch How a Bioluminescence Expert Catches a Giant Squid

Giant squid have been the object of fascination for millennia; they may have even provided the origin for the legendary Nordic sea monsters known as the Kraken. But no one had captured them in their natural environment on video until 2012, when marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Edith Widder snagged the first-ever images off Japan's Ogasawara Islands [PDF]. Widder figured out that previous dives—which tended to bring down a ton of gear and bright lights—were scaring all the creatures away. (Slate compares it to "the equivalent of coming into a darkened theater and shining a spotlight at the audience.")

In this clip from BBC Earth Unplugged, Widder explains how the innovative camera-and-lure combo she devised, known as the Eye-in-the-Sea, finally accomplished the job by using red lights (which most deep-sea creatures can't see) and an electronic jellyfish (called the e-jelly) with a flashy light show just right to lure in predators like Architeuthis dux. "I've tried a bunch of different things over the years to try to be able to talk to the animals," Widder says in the video, "and with the e-jelly, I feel like I'm finally making some progress."

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Big Questions
Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

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