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Dude orders 80-year-old lobster at restaurant just to set it free

Lucky Larry. (Photo courtesy of The Dock's Facebook page.)

After 80 to 100 years of life presumably full of whatever passes for adventure to a giant insect, Larry the lobster hit rock bottom and wound up in the live-lobster case at the Dock restaurant in Waterford, Conn. It's so tragic when our elders lack social support. Fortunately, Larry got spotted by boat company VP Don MacKenzie, who appointed himself the big guy's benefactor. MacKenzie reserved the 17-pound Larry for dinner, then spent an undisclosed amount to release him uneaten into the Long Island Sound.

MacKenzie is being coy about how much he spent for the giant crustacean, whose age he estimates as being at least 80 based on Larry's size and how often he's molted. He's disclosed only that Larry was "the most expensive lobster I never ate." But live lobsters at the Dock's fish market cost $9.99 per pound for a 1.25-pounder, $10.99 per pound for 1.5 pounds, and $11.99 per pound for 2-pound lobsters. By those numbers, a 17-pound lobster would cost at least $200, and possibly much, much more.

Read more: Animals


This video will make you want to hug a walrus

This rescued baby walrus is no more than six weeks old and already 200 pounds, so chances are good that you don't have room for him in your apartment. But I defy you to watch this video and not want to fly out to the Alaska SeaLife Center and demand adoption papers.

Read more: Animals


Watch some brave souls rescue baby bears from a dumpster

The basic rule about baby bears is Do Not Go Near Them. Ever. But what do you do if they're stuck in a garbage can, crying all night, with the mom stalking nearby? If you are this group of brave people, you rescue them:

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How many guinea pigs does it take to mow your lawn?

The average American lawn is one-fifth of an acre, or 8,712 square feet. That’s a lot of passes with your push reel mower. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just hire some goats, cows, or guinea pigs to take care of it for you?, a real estate company, is helping you plan your livestock yard care by calculating how many animals of different sorts it would take to mow your lawn in one day.

Let's find out what it would take to mow the average American lawn, shall we?

First, decide what animals you'd like.

I choose chickens! Because then you can eat their eggs, as well. Now, how big's your lawn? I don't actually have one, so I'll let my imaginary chickens loose on the average American lawn.

How many chickens will I need??

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This walrus can whistle, growl, and gurgle on command

E.T., a 30-year-old walrus at Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo, is clearly in training to replace Wilford Brimley. He has the looks down, and he's working on his acting; he can already do eight different types of vocalization on command.

Read more: Animals


Maybe don’t tell children they can hug a rabid bat

Photo by Steve Ryan.

Hey! Are you a jackass? Then you could probably use this advice: As much goodwill and admiration as you may think you're earning by knowing everything about everything, I guarantee you it will not make up for what you lose when you tell a 10-year-old to pet a rabid bat.

Last week a bunch of kids in Spencer, Mass., crowded around to look at a bat that had fallen from a tree, like you do. They didn't want to touch it, until a so-called adult picked the bat up and encouraged the assembled kids to hold or stroke it. The rabid animal was, she assured them on the basis of no knowledge whatsoever, "the friendliest thing ever."

Of course, the bat didn't bite her. Oh no. Instead, it bit 10-year-old Jojo Keefe, who notably was NOT slinging a lot of BS fauxspertise about wildlife. Bats have no sense of justice. 

Read more: Animals


Food mega-wholesaler Sysco pledges to liberate pigs from crates

Photo by Karen 2873.

Sysco -- the giant, often-invisible food distributor -- offers 400,000 products to the bulk of the nation’s restaurants and other institutions. It has a 17.5 percent market share, made $37 billion in sales in 2010 alone, and dispatches a cavalcade of silver trucks daily from 180 locations across the U. S.

In other words, Sysco is wholesale food in America, the same way Cargill is farming and Walmart is, well, all of retail. Or, as Salon put it back in 2009, Sysco has “come to monopolize most of what you eat.” So when the company changes a policy -- like it announced it was doing on Monday, when it pledged to do away with meat from pigs raised in gestation crates -- there is bound to be a striking ripple effect.

In a statement to the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the company wrote: “Sysco is committed to working with its suppliers to create a gestation crate-free supply system, for the good of all. Like many of our customers, we’re going to work with our pork suppliers to develop a timeline to achieve this goal.”

As their name implies, gestation crates are essentially steel cages that keep pregnant sows confined in a space roughly the size of their bodies. They’re commonly seen -- along with battery cages for egg-laying hens -- as among the least humane livestock practices. Animal behavior expert Temple Grandin describes gestation grates as the equivalent of “asking a sow to live in an airline seat” (without lavatory privileges).

Over the course of the last year, thanks to consumer demand, and an ongoing effort by HSUS, most major players in the fast food, grocery, and food service industries have gone -- at least on paper -- gestation crate-free. The list includes Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Carl’s Jr., Safeway, Kroger, Costco, Kraft, and Hormel (the maker of Spam). Even Smithfield Foods — the nation’s largest pork producer — has agreed to phase out the crates by 2017.

So Sysco can’t, by any means, say it’s first to make the pledge (and the company has yet to specify a timeline for the switch), but its move might have the largest impact so far on the practices farmers are using on the ground.

Read more: Animals, Factory Farms, Food


Nature, revised: In a brave new world, we write the rules

“Eat this brand of yogurt and you’ll help save the planet,” the label on the carton intones. Um, really?

Maybe not, but the stories we tell ourselves about our choice of yogurt, or soap, or hybrid car nonetheless say a lot about how we, as a society, view ourselves and our relationship to the world around us.

Professor Ursula Heise, eco-critic in Stanford University's English department, spends her days untangling these narratives. She looks at everything from that yogurt carton to the Book of Revelation, dissecting how words, language, symbols, and discourse influence how environmental science is communicated, how the science itself is done, and how societies seek solutions to problems such as mass extinction and climate change.

Along the way, she says she’s found that some of our stories have become tired (i.e. the “end of the world” narrative first told in Revelation) and others at times delusional (see your grocery list). She also has a few new storylines to suggest for environmentalists and others who are serious about salvaging some scraps of the natural world.


Wolverines refrigerate their food

Photo by Andrew Gainer.

Wolverines are loners, and they don't like to share. They try not to hang out anywhere near other wolverines or other mammals, a social preference that some of us can relate to. And like other grumpy, anti-social creatures, wolverines do not like to share their food.

You'd think that they'd be safe by living in the coldest reaches of the planet, in the middle of snowy wastelands. But they cannot escape the pesky insects and microbes that find a way to live anywhere and that would be happy to feast on the food that wolverines have scared up. To defeat them, the wolverines keep their food in what's basically a DIY refrigerator. National Geographic News reports:



Here’s a mama polar bear helping her baby to safety

It's sort of unfortunate that polar bears have become such a symbol of the need to protect our natural world, because while I support them being alive and all, they are also cold-eyed killers that if given a chance would eat you and everyone you care about (adorable sled-dog stories notwithstanding.) But still, this is a nice family moment where a mama polar bear helps her baby out of the water.

Read more: Animals