Sometimes, in the winter, deer get stuck out in the middle of icy lakes. Once they slip, they can exhaust themselves trying to get up, let alone get all the way back to shore. Which is where humans come in, with our noisy and terrifying but occasionally miraculous machines.
Last year, we watched someone blow a stranded deer to safety with the wind from a helicopter. This year, a guy named James and his dad are taking a more hands-on approach, tying ropes to the animals' legs and dragging them gently along the ice in an undoubtedly epic (if you're not a terrified cervid) combination of sledding and waterskiing.
Because everything on the internet is fake, we weren't surprised to discover that the text of this tweet isn't actually accurate. But really, who can even read the text over the sound of HOW CUTE THIS FREAKIN' ELEPHANT IS.
The weather in England is famously dreary, and this winter it's been worse, not only dismal but windy and stormy. Humans have developed ways to cope with this -- pajamas, whiskey, Law & Order marathons -- but penguins, even ones living in relative comfort in captivity, aren't so lucky. And the ones at the Sea Life Center in Scarborough are getting downright depressed.
Scarborough's Humboldt penguins really ought to be able to tough out winter weather; their native habitat in coastal Peru and Chile does get extreme weather events. But the British winter has been relentless and the penguins are having none of it:
If you haven't dreamed of scritching a seal pup behind the ear, I don't even want to know you. And these divers in the Farne Islands near England got to live that dream with some young Atlantic grey seals, who live near the islands in huge numbers.
Humans rarely get to experience this kind of communion with playful seal pups, mostly because humans rarely live in the water:
You thought smallpox was eradicated, but then, for a while we thought humanity might not be driving the global climate straight to hell, too. Now, it looks like both of those might be wrong. Could warming global temperatures thaw out the bodies of smallpox victims in Siberia, a place so cold that the virus might have been sent into stasis instead of killed? Could this reanimate the deadly disease for a new global epidemic of zombie smallpox? The answer is: probably not! BUT MAYBE. But probably not. But we still want to see the film about it.
This isn't a new worry -- Gizmodo reports that scientists and researchers have been concerned about it for more than a decade. And some took action, according to the BBC:
In the past, some researchers and news outlets speculated that smallpox in the frozen graves of former victims might remain in suspended animation, ready to begin a new cycle of infection should those bodies ever be dug up and unthawed. Scientists have attempted to excavate corpses in frozen graves in Alaska and Siberia that contain the remains of smallpox victims, however none of the bodies contained viable viruses.
In other words, they were so worried that a new wave of smallpox might take hold if the bodies were excavated and thawed that they decided to excavate and thaw the bodies. Good thinking.
This utterly precious baby polar bear lives at the Wildlife Health Center at the Toronto Zoo, and since he was only born in November, this is his first experience of winter. Which means you get to watch him have a formative experience: meeting a polar bear's natural element, snow, for the first time.
This painstaking map (click to embiggen, but you're going to want to go to the full-size version) is a labor of love by the American Intercity Bus Riders Association, and it shows all the intercity transit routes in the U.S. In theory, you could use this map to traverse the country by rail and bus alone, never getting in a car.
When the news cycle gets you down, just remember: Baby sloths are probably being born ALL THE TIME, somewhere. And when they're born at zoos, like this Linne's two-toed sloth born at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Texas, we get to hear all about it and see pictures. Just close all your other tabs; this is the only one you need.
Here's a picture of the newborn, who arrived Jan. 16, when he was only an hour and a half old:
Did you hear the one about the ugly duckling who grew up to be a beautiful, graceful, complete asshat invasive species that threatens not only people and other birds but also commercial air travel? Well, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has, which is why it wants to get rid of the state's 2,200 mute swans in the next 12 years.
Oh, sure, swans are beautiful -- at least that's what you've been told to believe -- but they're also the worst kind of arrogant mutated dinosaur. They attack people, hurt other birds, destroy fish and waterfowl habitats by eating underwater vegetation, threaten passenger jets, and if they could open their beaks wide enough they'd eat you and everyone you love. So the conservation department wants to classify them as a "prohibited invasive species" -- mute swans were imported in the 19th century -- and start bumping them off.