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Hvaldimir The Beluga Whale Captures the World’s Attention

Mackenzie Freeman

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A few months ago, videos of a beluga whale emerged online on various social media channels. These videos of a playful and curious whale caught the world’s attention. While videos of encounter with wild whales are not uncommon, this video was different because it showed the beluga playing fetch with a rugby ball with a team of researchers out in the frigid waters of Norway. The adorable video has had more than 20 million views thus far, promoting people around the world to ponder why this assumed wild whale so was comfortable with human interaction and why he knew what to do with a ball thrown in the water.

Today, it is believed that the whale, which has been given the name Hvaldimir, was at some point trained and cared for by Russian scientists. Previously, a beluga whale has been seen wearing a GoPro harness with the words “Equipment St. Petersburg” on it. It is now believed that Hvaldimir is that same whale, though the harness has since been removed. While this idea explains the whale’s familiarity with humans and his willingness to play games with them and seek out interactions with them, it is not as happy and feel-good a story at it seems at first. The sad truth is that this whale will likely die as he is a trained and human-dependent whale and the fear is he will be unable to survive in the wild without human intervention. At the very least, Hvaldimir needs to find a pod or family or whales to join so he does not have to continue living in the expansive ocean all alone.

The whale also has a team of advocates, animal rights supporters, and scientists who are working to protect him. The Advocates for Hvaldimir, made up of members from Norway and the United States, have been working to relocate him to another area of ocean. The hope is that in a more suitable habitat, seeing as the oceans of Norway is not an ideal place for a beluga, Hvaldimir can join a pod and relearn how to be a wild whale. In nature, belugas live in pods that can number up to 100 whales. Pods are important because the many whales living in the group help protect the whales from predators, make them more effective hunters, and also offer necessary social interactions for the family-focused whales. Belugas are very sociable, just like humans, and isolation is a very depressing and dangerous situation for these whales; that is what advocates are worried about for Hvaldimir.

Advocates argue that this friendly whale will likely never have a good chance at survival, let alone a normal life, without the natural support and structure of a pod. Advocates for Hvaldimir are working on a documentary and have been talking to Good News Network about the focus and goals of their work and how they are overcoming the opposition they are receiving from some people. It has long been believed that a previously captive animal, especially intelligent social animals like whales, cannot adapt and join a wild family unit or learn how to be self-sufficient. Hvaldimir appears to be doing ok on his own, but it is not fully known how long he has been on his own or what his overall health is like at this time.

Advocates for the whale say that Hvaldimir deserves a chance to be reintroduced to the wild and given the opportunity to join a pod and live life free and in the wild. The fear is that his current location oput him at risk for fishing boats and encounters with fishermen. The team fighting for the while say he should be relocated and monitored to see if he can adapt and learn to live without human guidance and interventions. They have created a GoFundMe page with specific details about Hvaldimir and his story and are avid that they want this to be an attempt to let the whale remain free and they are not looking at returning him to captivity somewhere.

To learn more about Hvaldimir, his advocates, and the newest updates on the progress, check out the GoFundMe page and contact the advocates themselves!

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Animals

Donut Doing Dog Drives Neighbors Nuts

Lea Lomas

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Almost anything can be haunted: houses, ancient burial grounds, gravesites. There are even people who put some very unusual items for sale on eBay, claiming they they were haunted. Some of those items included a haunted ring that contains the spirit of a genie, a haunted painting, haunted shoes that tap dance throughout the night, a haunted Ziploc bag that restores or heals almost anything, and even a haunted bra that grants its wearer admiration and gifts.

In one Florida neighborhood, the residents were wondering if they were experiencing a haunted car. Even though it seemed very unlikely, the car was moving around by itself without a driver, and witnesses were searching for some sort of explanation.

Hours of Donuts — Backwards

Not only was the car moving, it was moving in reverse, and going in circles. It was clear to see, because it was broad daylight, that there was no one in the driver’s seat. How was the vehicle driving continuously for so long without a driver?

Chaos and Damage 

The car not only caused confusion,  but a clear and present danger to anyone in the area. Whatever was in charge of the vehicle was not being careful,  and at least one mailbox was knocked over and destroyed.  This was 8 a.m. in a quiet neighborhood in a cul-de-sac that normally doesn’t see much traffic. St. Lucie, Florida isn’t famous for its wild car chases or paranormal activity. 

Emergency Services to the Rescue 

Finally, after over an hour of this wild driving,  emergency responders arrived to help. Police officers and firefighters could only stop and stare at first — theyprobably didn’t believe what they were seeing. A brave police officer finally approached the vehicle and punched in a pass code,  unlocking the car door. 

They Believed It When They Saw It

To the surprise of everyone watching,  as soon as the door opened, a dog made its break for freedom.  Terrified and confused, the poor black dog ran off.

Now it was possible to learn the real story.  The owner of the vehicle had started it and then his dog jumped in, accidentally hit the gear shifter, and somehow locked out his owner. 

Video Proof

If a watchful neighbor hadn’t noticed what was happening, the rest of the world might not believe this crazy story. Luckily, Anne Sobol was looking out her window and noticed the car backing up. When the car continued to drive backwards without a driver, Anne started videotaping the incident.Even without the video, the owner of the car admitted responsibility for the incident. He told the emergency responders how his dog Max came to be driving his car and agreed to pay for the mailbox.

Poor Max

Nobody got hurt this time, but this is an important lesson to be careful after turning on a vehicle. Small children and pets can lock themselves in, causing calls to locksmiths just to get them out quickly.

Hopefully, Max the Donut Driving Dog will be more cautious around vehicles from now on, with no fear.

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Dogs & Veterans Get a New Leash on Life

Leslie Tander

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Some people might say that Tiger is the luckiest dog on the planet–and he might agree, if he could speak for himself.

Today, Tiger is a happy and sociable dog with plenty of energy, but it has not always been this way. In fact, Tiger was once just a pup in a Georgia animal shelter. One human, Angela Simpson, changed everything for the dog when she saw his social skills and energy level and knew he could become the perfect service dog.

Simpson served in the Iraq War as a member of the United States Army. When the soldier returned home, she experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. She suffered from anxiety attacks, especially in public when she was surrounded by many people. She also had three children to raise, and she was finding that her mental health was not where she wanted it to be. Life was getting much more difficult.

That changed when she met Tiger thanks to the One Warrior Won program, a non-profit that helps service members seek support for PTSD.

Tiger is now a well-trained pup who can sense stress and panic. When Tiger senses that Simpson is panicking, he leads her away from people or tries to calm her down using other methods. Tiger brings a number of winning qualities to the table, including companionship and a lot of personality. Simpson says Tiger has opened up her world to a variety of opportunities, and her entire family benefits.

Organizations like One Warrior Won help shed light on the fact that between 18 and 22 veterans die by suicide every day. It is clear at this point that suicide and PTSD in military members have become a crisis. Of course, people are not the only ones in need. Thousands of dogs are euthanized each day, and many of them are quite capable of being trained for service. To date, One Warrio Won has trained more than a dozen service dogs and placed them with vets all around the United States.

For people living with PTSD, service dogs are a big help. These dogs, just like Tiger, can be trained to determine their charge’s heart rate and breathing to determine if he or she is having a panic attack. Many veterans return from their service to feel isolated and withdrawn. Dogs don’t judge or misunderstand. They facilitate reconnection and provide companionship. They also serve a medical purpose.

Other organizations also train dogs for placement with military veterans. They include groups like Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs. These organizations developed because Veterans Affairs provides service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities, but not necessarily those with mental health disorders. For veterans who are left to find trained dogs on their own, these non-profit organizations are especially helpful, as they provide trained dogs for free.

Thanks to organizations like these, the lives of people like Simpson and dogs like Tiger are much improved. Veterans and pups in need are both given another chance at life.

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Dad Lion Crouches Down To Meet His Baby Son For The Very First Time

Leslie Tander

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It was a major win for the lions when Tobias met his cub, Tatu, for the first time in September 2019. The Safari lion embraced the moment of meeting his son for the first time as zookeepers let the cameras roll to capture the moment. 

It is no secret that the past 25 years have been hard on the lions in Africa. Dozens of species have disappeared as old age and hunting games have claimed the lives of lions throughout the continent. The dwindling existence of Safari lions in Africa is why Tatu’s birth was so significant. 

Tatu was born on July 25, 2019, to the Predator Ridge habitat of the Denver Zoo. The cub’s mother, Apryiella, fought long and hard to deliver her son. The lioness gave birth after nine hours of labor that included groans and exhaustion. Zookeepers remained present with Apryiella to ensure that both she and baby Tatu survived the labor and delivery process. In the end, the lioness gave birth to a beautiful cub who had yet to meet his father. 

Some do not see the point in having cubs meet both parents. The little ones are, after all, outside their element from birth when the zoo is their home. There is, however, something special about a male lion connecting with his father during the first few months of existence. Such is the reason why zookeepers worked to orchestrate a meetup for little Tatu and his father. 

Tobias was unsuspecting on that glorious day in September 2019. The male lion probably thought he was merely being moved from one station to the next. Everything came to a head, however,  when Tobias beheld his son for the first time. One look at Tatu, and the male lion knew that he was staring at his offspring. 

It is quite interesting to see the reaction of animals when beholding their children for the first time. No matter how long they have been separated, the parents know what belongs to them. 

Tatu presents hope in more ways than one. The cub is a male of his kind, which means that his offspring can repopulate the Earth with lions. There is also the satisfaction of one more lion being in the universe, which seems to be a joy that is far and few in between because of scarcity. 

A significant part of the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) depended on the safe labor and delivery of Tatu. Now, with the cub’s birth behind them, advocates for endangered species can move on to combat the decline of Safari lions in different ways. 

It is not every day that a lion such as Tatu enters the world. Thankfully, Denver zookeepers caught the moment that the cub met his father so that animal lovers can enjoy the union for years to come. The moment in time is certainly something that neither Tatu nor Tobias will forget. 

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