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This project has rescued more than 800 endangered baby penguins in six months

rescued-african-penguin-chick
Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

The Chick Bolstering Project sounds like a GoldieBlox-style girl-empowerment trip, but it actually rescues endangered baby penguins -- no Beastie Boys lawsuit necessary!

The project is a partnership with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, the South African government, and others. In the past six months, they’ve rescued more than 800 endangered African penguin chicks from starvation. Does that mean it's time for a cuddle party?!

baby-penguin-chick-cared-for
Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

That’s aww-worthy AND a big deal because African penguins are dying off like gangbusters. In the past 80 years, their population has shrunk 97.5 percent, because overfishing has eliminated their food and unusually cold weather puts ’em on ice. (Climate change, you buttface!)

In this most recent case, parent African penguins were abandoning their little ones because the babies were too small or sick. The Chick Bolstering Project hand-rears the chicks, helps them bulk up a little, and releases them three months later. Whether staffers actually chant, “Go! Have wild unprotected sex to further your species!” into the wind is anyone’s guess.

Read more: Living

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Pedestrians used to be America’s sports stars — complete with endorsements and doping scandals

pedestrianism-by-matthew-algeo-competitive-walking-cr.jpgRather than wearing skintight pants and jogging around a silly diamond, athletes in the 1870s would walk hundreds of miles as a nail-biting, bet-placing American public looked on. That’s right: Pedestrians were the original sports heroes.

That’s the subject of the new book Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport. Author Matthew Algeo dishes about how athletes would walk 500 miles’ worth of loops around what’s now Madison Square Garden, only stopping on Sundays. A cheering crowd would bet on who’d drop out or hit 100 miles first.

Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker has the dirt:

Pedestrianism had celebrity athletes and lucrative sponsorship agreements -- this is where corporate sponsorship began! -- and even doping scandals. Athletes got high on coca leaves and champagne, just like today.

Read more: Living

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The Onion manages to make even extinction funny

dinosaurs-sunset-flickr-sam-howzit
Sam Howzit

Shit’s disappearing, and it’s a bummer. We try to stay upbeat, but sometimes all the news of vanishing ecosystem this and endangered that gets us down. Thankfully, the irrepressible Onion has made even biodiversity loss funny with “EPA Announces New Initiative To Conserve Whatever’s Left.”

In the Onion's alternate reality, the EPA has newly devoted $70 million for halfheartedly saving the few remaining trees, animals, or whatever else happens to be lying around:

“By working together with scientists, lawmakers, and various conservation groups, we hope to preserve those ecosystems and forms of wildlife that have actually managed to hang in there for this long,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy ...

“Basically, whichever organisms are living right now, we’re going try to keep them alive,” she continued. “If that’s still a possibility.”

Additionally, the agency affirmed its commitment to deploying its personnel nationwide to do “whatever can be done at this point” to safeguard areas that may still contain clean air, clean water, and land that’s not completely covered in refuse and filth ...

“Of course, that’s only until our funding is cut even further,” McCarthy added. “Then, you know, the environment’s pretty much on its own.”

It’s funny (slash sad) because it’s true! The EPA’s been making some questionable choices lately, from lifting BP’s drilling ban to running a fake clean energy scam. And in light of McCarthy’s comment in September that “Climate change is not about polar bears,” the Onion’s piece doesn’t seem THAT far off.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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This vegan bakery could be the next Cinnabon

vegan-cinnabon-cinnaholic
Cinnaholic

What is it about Cinnabon? THAT SMELL. The doughy simple sugars spiking straight into your system. The extra little container of frosting you can get. Be right back, we have to run to the mall.

Anyway, vegan cinnamon roll shop Cinnaholic just started accepting franchise applications, so your town could get a dairy-free version of our favorite unhealthy treat (no offense, gelato and Pirate’s Booty!). Maybe you’ll even be behind the counter?

Founders Shannon and Florian Radke opened the first Cinnaholic in 2010 in Berkeley (of course). Today, you can pick from almost 30 flavors of frosting and 25 toppings, so if you’ve always wanted a vegan cinnamon roll with pina colada-flavored frosting and cookie dough on top, that clanging you hear is St. Peter throwing open the pearly gates.

Read more: Food, Living

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Can you go a day without trash? Try it on April 9

adaywithoutwaste

Two-thirds of our waste doesn’t get recycled or composted. Youth activism nonprofit Global Citizen wants to see if you can get that down to zero on Wednesday, which it’s christened #ADayWithoutWaste.

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Can you go one day without creating any garbage -- or at least using a travel mug instead of a paper coffee cup? How about a reusable shopping bag instead of a plastic one? (Say it with us now: “No straw in my maw!”)

Because if not, no pressure, but your relationship is totally doomed. Case in point: This guy trying to celebrate the most important of anniversaries -- SEVEN MONTHS! -- and being totally foiled by that old supervillain, trash:

Read more: Living

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The week in GIFs: Genies, junk, and Mary Jane

There was plenty of odd news this week, even not counting April Fools' Day. (Last week: all of your favorite vices.)

Now you can find love on a tiny house dating site:

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Tumblr

The U.N. climate report was pretty depressing, but it had a few bright spots:

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Tumblr
Read more: Living

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These cute $40 watches can run forever on sunlight

Tattoos mean they're hipster approved.
Q&Q
Tattoos mean they're hipster approved.

If you aren’t a tiny doll with a miniature screwdriver, getting a dead watch battery replaced is the worst. Not only do you have to hunt down that little old man in the jewelry store, but you become even later than usual -- or is that just me? The hip SmileSolar watch slices through those excuses like a timekeeping Zorro by running completely on the sun:

solarsmile-solar-powered-watch
Q&Q

Citizen Eco-Drive solar watches may be out of your price range (not that you can’t afford a $325 watch, Kanye), but thankfully its more affordable imprint, Q&Q, sells the SmileSolar for only $40. The watches used to only be available in Japan, but as with cat cafés, our patience has been rewarded. ME-OW:

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This fancy fridge makes your kale even more nutritious

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Electrolux

The NutriLight can’t make your produce last forever, but it’s pretty close. The fridge lighting system, developed by Electrolux, uses “a patented fixed wave treatment that evenly distributes light around the crisper to boost the vitamin content of fruits and vegetables,” according to the company.

The energy-efficient NutriLight only pours beneficial ray-beams onto your veggies, not UV or ultrared rays that would suck out the vitamins. (Vitamin C and antioxidants dwindle in fruits and vegetables within a few days.) With this fridge, “essentially, synthetic photosynthesis is occurring in your crisper drawer,” as Modern Farmer puts it.

Read more: Food, Living

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Smoggy Chinese city offers residents bags of fresh air

woman-oxygen-mask-air-breathe-flickr
Clear Communication People

In what totally sounds like a Spaceballs-inspired April Fools’ joke, a travel company shipped bags of fresh air to highly polluted Zhengzhou, China, for residents to enjoy. The stunt was promoting tourism to Laojun Mountain, an area 120 miles away that's full of mushrooms, monkeys, and apparently quite clean air.

Up to 20 people at a time could slurp the good stuff through oxygen masks for a few minutes before someone else got a turn (the Wall Street Journal has photos). State-run China News Service reported that some people even tried to wring every last breath out of the air-pillows, and a pregnant lady supposedly felt her baby kick when she started breathing the clean stuff.

Read more: Cities, Living

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Amazon and Twitter are dirty dirty scoundrels, says Greenpeace

Digital darlings like Apple, Google, and Facebook have one more thing to brag about: high marks from a new Greenpeace report about clean energy. But on the other end of the spectrum, Amazon and Twitter flunked big time.

The report -- “Your Online World: #ClickClean or Dirty?” -- grades some of the web’s biggest sites on four metrics: transparency, policy, energy efficiency, and green advocacy. Amazon and Twitter each got three F’s and one D (see ya in summer school, suckers). Everyone’s fave microblogging site earned these harsh words from Greenpeace:

Twitter remains at the bottom of the industry for energy transparency, disclosing no information about its energy footprint. Twitter lags behind its competitor in social media, Facebook, which took significant steps to increase transparency and increase its use of clean energy soon after it went public.

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Greenpeace

ZING. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which owns your buddies Netflix, Pinterest, and Spotify -- got major shade: