Strange Love: 10 Animals with Truly Weird Courtship Rituals

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On Valentine’s Day, lovers who are eager to woo their partners show their affection with traditional gifts of red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, or with romantic dinners at fancy restaurants. There’s usually some effort involved, but pulling off a memorable Valentine’s Day is easier — and generally safer — than some of the courtship rituals performed by other animal species.

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Endangered Species Then and Now

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The Endangered Species Act is more than 40 years old, which begs the question: Where are they now? “They” being the thousands of threatened plant and animal species that are protected under the landmark legislation.  Maintaining biodiversity is no easy feat, but many species have rebounded since the act’s inception in 1973. So far, 59 species have been delisted, 20 of which are considered true success stories. But others haven’t been so lucky. An animal can be taken off the list if it is no longer threatened or if it goes extinct. Today, more than 1,400 plants and animals remain endangered or threatened.

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Photographer Takes Breathtaking Portraits with Real Animals

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Katerina Plotnikova is a photographer from Russia who takes dreamy photos with the help of real animals. The creatures she captures on these photographs are just unreal; there is no Photoshop involved, just a group of elite animal trainers. Enjoy the surreal, almost mystical quality of her work.

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Video: Dog Makes Friends With a Seal

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While a woman was walking her dog along a beach in La Cap Ferret, France, they happened upon what has got to be the single friendliest seal.  When the dog and seal began to snuggle, it had to be a real once in a lifetime moment for everyone there.  If one didn’t know any better, you’d almost think the seal has had regular contact with humans and their dogs to think it almost tame.  Remember dear readers, these are still wild animals.  They may display some almost “domesticated” behaviors, but you never know exactly what that animal will do if spooked or feels threatened by something.  It’s always best admire wildlife from a bit of a distance. It’s best for the safety of the wildlife, your pet’s safety, and of course yours as well.

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Dog Named ‘Lazarus’ Survives Euthanasia Attempt

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Animal control officer Wanda Snell knows what she saw: A veterinarian inserted a needle into the black-and-brown mutt and injected a chemical meant to euthanize the dog no one had adopted. The animal moved a bit and was still and quiet by the time she left the shelter for home.  What Snell can’t explain is how or why a mixed-breed dog that nobody wanted recovered overnight and has since bounced back fully from what should have been a lethal injection.

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Five Animals That Are a Lot Smarter Than You Think

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The Oregon Supreme Court this month issued two landmark rulings that gave animals protections previously reserved for humans. Now police can intervene without a warrant to save an abused or neglected animal from its owner. Animal abusers are also subject to harsher punishments.  “As we continue to learn more about the interrelated nature of all life, the day may come when humans perceive less separation between themselves and other living beings than the law now reflects,” wrote Oregon Justice Martha Lee Walters in one of the decisions. “However, we do not need a mirror to the past or a telescope to the future to recognize that the legal status of animals has changed and is changing still.”

 

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What Are Animals Thinking?

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The mind of an animal is a far richer, more complex thing than most people know — as a new TIME book reveals. Let’s be honest, you’d probably rather die than wake up tomorrow morning and find out you’d turned into an animal. Dying, after all, is inevitable, and there’s even a certain dignity to it: Shakespeare did it, Einstein did it, Galileo and Washington and Twain all did it. And you, someone who was born a human and will live your life as a human, will end your life that way too.

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