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Watch This Heartwarming Reunion as a Proud Lioness Sees Her Old Trainer Again

Mackenzie Freeman

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With the new Lion King remake destroying box offices everywhere, we felt it was only time to take a look at real-life animals worthy of our adoration. Today, we are going to introduce you to a gorgeous lioness named Kiara and her old trainer, Adolfo. After being raised from youth by Adolfo, the two had been forced to separate. Now, years later, they are getting to share one of the most heartwarming reunions that we have ever seen. Are you ready to cry a few tears of joy? 

The King of the Jungle

Our story today is going to be focused on a lion named Kiara. Though we are focused on one individual animal, Kiara represents all of the so-called Kings of the Jungle. Now dangerously endangered, it is up to us to shine a light on their potential extinction. By sharing stories like Kiara’s, we can add a layer of empathy and humanity to one of the most misunderstood apex predators on the planet.

Importance of Lion Conservation Efforts

Right now, African lions like Kiara are considered endangered due to problems arising from habitat loss, poaching, and conflict between humans and animals. Over the last three generations, the number of living African lions have dwindled by more than 40%. What does this mean? To put things plainly, our Kings of the Jungle are in a desperate situation. Now, there are only 20,000 African lions currently in the wild.

Meet Kiara the Lion Cub

The main character in today’s story is Kiara, a little lioness. According to the latest scientific studies, there are roughly 40,000 TOTAL wild lions left on the planet. That’s right, the aforementioned African lion, which is considered vulnerable, makes up more than half of the global population. How can you look at this adorable face and wish for anything but their protection?

A Beautiful Origin Story

Kiara is a female lioness who was discovered in Mexico. She was rescued as a cub from rather mysterious circumstances. Eventually, Kiara was handed over to a shelter in Mexico where she could receive proper care and attention. During her time in the rescue in Mexico, Kiara would become close with her trainer, Adolfo. Adolfo is the second hero of our story.

Being Raised in Captivity

While we don’t know much about Adolfo or how he came into possession of Kiara, we do know that the pair became fast friends. There are plenty of photographs where Adolfo and Kiara are playing, snuggling, or otherwise relaxing in one another’s presence. It was clear to see that the two shared a real bond. Lions who are raised in captivity have the ability to socialize in a way that wild lions never do. It gives us the chance to see another side of the amazing species.

Kiara Needed a New Home

As Adolfo helped to raise and train Kiara, it became quickly apparent that she would not get to stay with him forever. Even though Adolfo had become something of an adoptive father to Kiara, he knew that she was going to need a bigger and better place to live. Adolfo had to say farewell to his growing cub and that meant that there story was coming to an end.

Saying Farewell to Adolfo

After putting the event off as long as possible, Adolfo finally said goodbye to Kiara. Adolfo shared several photos and videos to his social media account showing he and Kiara hugging. Adolfo made it abundantly clear that he would someday reunite with Kiara, though he couldn’t say when, where, or how that would happen.

Growing Apart and Forgetting Adolfo

After Kiara was transferred to another preserve, Adolfo figured that, by and large, their story had come to an end. Even if he were to come to visit Kiara, how would she remember him after being apart for so long? Would she even vaguely recognize him? After putting off the reunion, Adolfo finally gave in. He had to see if Kiara would remember him.

Until One Fateful Day….

Adolfo packed his bags and traveled to Kiara’s new home. When he arrived, it was clear that something was coming back to Kiara. The lioness paced back and forth in her enclosure as she began to sense something in the air. Was Kiara upset? Was she scared of Adolfo? Did she even know who Adolfo was?

Adolfo and Kiara Share a Moment of Uncertainty

Showcasing courage far more bountiful than my own, Adolfo eventually made his way to her enclosure. Staring at the lion from the other side of the cage had to have been nervewracking. Could you go through with stepping into the cage? Even though Adolfo had raised Kiara,  there had to be a part of him that was slightly concerned.

And Then Kiara Remembered

After a moment of hesitation, Kiara suddenly showed a surge of love and happiness. The giant lioness made her way over to her former trainer wherein she immediately leaped into his arms. The two shared a loving embrace that was impossible to deny. Kiara had remembered Adolfo and Adolfo had come back for her. If you’ve ever seen a happy housecat, you know exactly how Kiara began to behave.

Remembering One Another

Even though Adolfo had voiced concerns about her forgetting him, he had still stepped through the door and into the cage. As with any wild animal, you never know how they are going to act until you get there. The fact that Kiara had embraced Adolfo as she had, had meant that she had remembered everything about him. This was a huge moment because it said so much about both Kiara and Adolfo.

Welcome to the Pack

More than just a friend to Kiara, Adolfo became a friend to all of the other large cats at the preservation. Here we can see a stunning photo of Adolfo lounging with the big cats at the protected site. We have to imagine that if any cat had trouble with Adolfo, they’d also have trouble with Kiara.

Truth to Human and Animal Bonds

After refusing to listen to his own instincts, Adolfo was able to prove that a bond existed between himself and Kiara. The truth is that animal and human bonds can be dated back to the very origin of our civilization. There is even proof that cavemen had animal companions during their time period. Why was it so crazy for Kiara to remember Adolfo? As it turns out, this hot-button topic will be worth exploring later.

Adolfo and Kiara Go Viral

While we can debate the human and animal connection forever, we can’t ignore the fact that Adolfo’s post quickly went viral. Adolfo isn’t the first animal trainer to be embraced by his furry friend, but he definitely had the attention of the people. Adolfo’s love of Kiara isn’t weird at all when you consider that ancient Egyptians would shave their hair in order to mourn the loss of their pets.

Personification vs. Empathy

At this point in time, we have to ask ourselves about the differences between personification and human empathy. Personification entails ascribing human-like traits to non-human beings. Was Kiara remembering Adolfo in a loving way or was she remembering someone who fed and trained her? The argument has been hotly debated in the scientific community for ages.

Arguing for Animal Empathy

Some researchers and behavioral scientists believe that animals can possess empathy. If animals can be empathetic to someone, that means that they can employ a broad range of emotions in order to decide how they act. If this were to be proven, that would fundamentally change how we look at the animals in our world. What’s more, the truth of animal empathy would make extinctions all the more heartbreaking.

Is This True Love

With all of the context that we provided, it’s hard to find fault in people who want to claim that Adolfo and Kiara are in a real relationship. If Kiara has empathy and memory, then her feelings toward Adolfo are completely valid. She is no longer operating as a simple animal, she is remembering someone that she cared about. Isn’t there something heartwarming about seeing an apex predator like Kiara embrace Adolfo?

Playing With Her Family

While the emotional aspect of the experience is definitely interesting, it wasn’t the only reason that the video went viral. As Adolfo and Kiara continued their reunion, they captured amazing photos and videos of all sorts of things. Here we can see Kiara and Adolfo playing a training game. Would you have the courage to try this game?

Not All Interactions Are Friendly

While the interactions between Adolfo and Kiara are straight from a movie, not all interactions with lions are the same. Here we see Siegried & Roy, the famous Vegas performers who had incorporated a lion into their routine. While we are sure that Siegried & Roy thought they had been careful, that isn’t quite the case.

Roy Horn and the Famous Lion

In 2003 during a live show, Roy Horn was attacked by his white lion. The white lion would end up wounding Roy while simultaneously shutting the performance down for good. We have to point out that working with lions in preservations is not the same as using a wild animal for an entertaining show.

Human-Animal Bond Integral to Training

No matter what you think of lions in entertainment, the health and wellbeing of the creatures will depend on the bond that they share with their trainers. Like Adolfo, there are countless trainers working throughout the world to raise lions in a safe and humane way. Good people like Adolfo are working to preserve an at-risk species.

Scientific Controversy Swirls Around Humans and Animals

One of the most fascinating areas of research in the wildlife community centers around human emotion. More specifically, scientists are interested in whether lions can FEEL the same way that humans can. We know that their heart rate can increase and their hormones can surge in certain situations, but is there a psychological reaction, as well?

Meet the Incredible Lion Whisperer

While we aren’t going to root out answers to all of our questions, people like Kevin ‘The Lion Whisperer’ Richardson are helping us to get there. Richardson is another lion trainer who has made a name for himself for his work in South Africa. In fact, Richardson is so impressive as a trainer that he is routinely pictured cuddling with the lions that he has worked with.

Improving the Lion’s Reputation

While we must always be wary when around wild animals, the work that Richardson and Adolfo are undertaking offers us something special. People like Richardson and Adolfo are playing integral roles in changing the tide on public opinion of lions. While you should never approach a lion, you should also not fear them from the comfort of your home. 

Work of the Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation

At the Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation, people like Richardson and Adolfo are working to rescue and care for as many wild cats as they can. It was this foundation that gave Kiara a home and it will be this foundation that saves several more cats just like her. The foundation is also working to prevent as much illegal hunting as they possibly can.

Meet the Foundation’s Owner

The Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation was established in 2013 by Eduardo Serio. Eduardo Serio is a businessman who opted to establish the foundation due to his own affinity for wild animals. Serio launched the foundation after discovering a jaguar cub being displayed in a random pet store in Monterrey, Mexico. Serio rescued the animal before establishing a foundation in its honor. You can see the little jaguar cub pictured above.

Focusing on What is Important

You don’t have to scroll through social media for long before seeing a celebrity with a wild animal. Whether you are looking at musicians who have exotic pets or celebrities who want extra clout on Instagram, people like Serio think that these are the wrong messages to send. While we’re sure that Paris Hilton doesn’t mean anything by this photo, preservation specialists don’t want people to think of big cats as accessories.

Where Did Kiara Get Her Name

In any event, it is clear that Kiara is in a great place with great people watching after her. She even has a pretty name. In Italian, Kiara translates to ‘bright’. In Hindi, Kiara translates to ‘God’s precious gift’. We also have to mention that Kiara was the main character in ‘Lion King II: Simbas Pride’.

Staying Close to Kiara

After letting Kiara leave for her transfer, Adolfo has made the decision to stay in her life. Adolfo routinely posts videos and pictures on his social media account of the two playing together. He also celebrates Kiara’s birthday and even sends her gifts as if she were his daughter. We think that Kiara is going to be just fine.

Other Stories Like Adolfo and Kiara

While Kiara and Adolfo are the subjects of today’s story, they aren’t the first lion-trainer bond that we’ve heard of. In fact, there have been several high-profile stories surrounding lions happily reuniting with their former trainers. To learn more about this fascinating concept, we’re going to introduce you to Christian the Lion.

Meet Christian the Lion

Christian was a lion born in the Ilfracombe Zoo in Devon back in 1969. Christian had been rejected by his mother and was no longer part of the litter. As a result, Christian had to be raised in special circumstances. Eventually, Christian found his way to John Rendall and Ace Bourke. The two had wanted to save Christian, so they made him a home with the goal of returning the animal to Kenya.

Returning to Kenya

Thankfully, John and Ace realized that they shouldn’t keep the pet in London. They arranged for Christian to head home with the Kenyan Wildlife Services. With any luck, Christian would get the chance to be reintroduced to the wild in a safe and effective way. While John and Ace loved their big cat, they knew it was for the best. John and Ace would return years later to meet Christian whereupon the cat would instantly recognize them.

Support Animal Preservation

If you want to make a difference in the world, supporting animal conservation efforts is a great way to do so. The African Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to protecting and conserving as much of the lands and wildlife of Africa as possible. Their goal is to create a more sustainable future for Africa and the animals that live there.

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Animals

Dogs Demonstrate Ability to Detect COVID-19 With Impressive Accuracy

Lea Lomas

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They say dogs are a man’s best friend, and millions of pet owners around the world would agree. There are about 90 million pet dogs in the U.S. alone, and these beloved canines brighten people’s days, especially during the continued uncertainty and isolation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

There’s no doubt that the pandemic resulted in the complete upheaval of daily life right around the globe, with scientists racing to find a vaccine and treatments that work. The virus has infected more than 18,000,000 people globally with nearly 700,000 deaths thus far according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine. What makes the virus so complicated is that people can be infectious before they show symptoms, and some may have the virus and recover with no symptoms at all. 

As countries continue to look at testing and treatment options, some new heroes are emerging in the fight against COVID-19, and that’s none other than the dogs humans love so much. Research from University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover shows that dogs can be taught to sniff out the virus with an unprecedented 94% accuracy rating.

This isn’t the first time the incredible intelligence and ability of dogs has made a difference to humans. With as many as 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, dogs have been used to sniff out missing people, criminals, drugs, bombs and much more, although their COVID-19 detection capabilities may prove to be some of the most important of all. 

As the virus continues to spread and wreak havoc on communities across every continent, the need for strong testing and detection isn’t going away anytime soon, which explains why the results of the dog study were so exciting. The researchers took saliva samples from upwards of 1,000 people, some who have confirmed COVID-19 cases and others who were not infected and had no history of respiratory problems or disease. The dogs came from German armed forces and were introduced to the samples using a randomized process. 

Within five days, the research team had successfully trained the dogs to identify the infected samples with a 94% accuracy level. The researchers believe COVID-19 generates a metabolic change in the human body that dogs can recognize even if people cannot. 

With a sense of smell 1,000 times stronger and more sensitive than humans, dogs have the potential to make a massive difference in medical detection by separating infected and non-infected individuals. A similar study by Medical Detection Dogs in the U.K. demonstrated the canine ability to detect humans carrying malaria, a mosquito-borne illness that kills thousands every year. 

Now, more studies are being conducted to explore canine COVID-19 detection and how it could be implemented in airports and other busy places, especially as countries look to get air travel back up and running. British researchers have given dogs face masks worn by humans instead of saliva to confirm if they can detect the disease from those surfaces while taking precautions to keep the virus from spreading to the dogs. 

It’s believed each detector dog could screen as many as 250 people each hour, with the results available immediately, especially for asymptomatic people who may not raise any concerns with a temperature or symptom screening checking. By isolating the infected people from the greater community, hopefully, disease transmission will decline and hard-hit industries will be able to get back up and running, with the support and reassurance of highly trained and hardworking dogs.

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The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is as Graceful as its Queen

Leslie Tander

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The old myth that pigeons are boring creatures and simply “rats with wings” is far from truthful. The pigeons most of us are aware of are of the gray, noisy, overpopulated, French fry-stealing North American variant. However, that does not mean every pigeon on earth is a big pain in the behind.

This also does not mean that every pigeon is gray and boring. There are 344 species in the pigeon and dove family on Earth with variety being the key factor.

The largest species of the 344 is the Victoria Crowned Pigeon which is indigenous to and around Northern New Guinea. In the images you have seen of this majestic bird, it is difficult to see the true scale of the creature.

An average adult is 28-30-inches in length (head-to-tail) which is the same size as a female turkey. Some birds exceed 31-inches in length and maintain a weight of around 7.7-pounds. Overall, it is marginally larger than the two other species of crowned pigeons and is considered the largest on Earth.

The bird features a feathery, royal blue color with a stunning crest that screams royalty, hence the name Victoria Crowned Pigeon. The eyes are piercing and fiery red indicating that if this pigeon were human, it would scream, “Off with his head!”

With many species of birds, the males and females have a different look to indicate their sex. However, the male and female Victoria Crowned Pigeons are the same for both sexes. While the males grow only slightly larger than the females, the only true way to know the sex of a bird is through surgery.

This pigeon species is one of four unique genus birds that are large, ground-dwelling, and easily recognizable by the white tips on the crests and the deep whooping sounds it makes when communicating.

During mating, the species makes a deep hoota-hoota-hoota sound and when defending its territory, the pigeon makes a whup-up, whup-up, whup-up call.

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is a foraging and terrestrial bird that flies only when necessary. During a flight, this pigeon species make a loud clapping sound. This bird digs into the jungle floor searching for fallen insects, fruit, and seeds.

Typically, the bird is found throughout lowlands and swamp forests, especially on the Alluvial Plains. Most are found at sea level, due to the food options, occasionally they venture into the hills to a maximum elevation of 3,000-feet. Each day, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon makes a trek from sea to a tree.

Much like other crowned pigeons, the Victoria is a social species that travel in small parties while slowly walking across the forest floor in search of food. When disturbed during their search, these birds fly vertically into the canopy or onto a large branch. They often remain here for considerable periods while flicking their tails and communicating contact calls.

Like most animals, males engaged in aggressive exhibitions of dominance which involves puffing their chests and rapidly raising their wings as if in attack preparation. Often, they make short strikes at one but rarely making contact and are typically peaceful outside of the early mating season.

Mating occurs during the late wet season and through the dry season. The male displays for the female by lowering his head, stretching forward, and rhythmically swinging his head up and down while shaking his fanned tail.

While the female lays a single egg, which is incubated in about 30-days, both parents work together to raise the young.

Sadly, as deforestation continues to occur in rainforest nations, their habitats are disappearing causing a rapid decline in the population. As of 2020, the species has reached a “Near Threatened” status.

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Shark Surprises Surfer With Painful Mark and Scary Memory

Mackenzie Freeman

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Millions of people around the world would say they are scared of sharks, and stories of attacks on surfers can heighten that anxiety.

Although humans out for a swim or surf are in sharks’ natural territory, anytime a shark strikes, it generates a lot of media attention. There’s even a term for the uncontrollable fear of sharks, which is known as galeophobia. Every year, the International Shark Attack File investigates interactions between sharks and humans, and 2019 saw 64 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks on people and 41 provoked incidents.

Such small numbers prove the point that shark attacks are extremely rare, however for those involved, it’s something they will never forget. In these isolated instances, it’s believed the sharks mistake humans for prey. One Australian surfer has learned the hard way about unprovoked shark attacks after a great white shark sailed out of the water and took a chunk out of his surfboard and his leg.

Bunker Bay off the coast of Western Australia is a popular surfing spot, and that’s where Phil Mummert was catching waves last month. As reported by 9 News, he was relaxing on his board taking a quick breather when a fellow surfer yelled out the dreaded words that a shark was fast approaching.

Unfortunately, it was too late, with a massive 16-foot great white shark jumping out of the water and slamming into Mummert in full force. The seasoned surfer, aged in his 20s, remained conscious throughout the terrifying ordeal as the shark grabbed hold of his upper leg. This behavior is known as breaching, and the Smithsonian reports that it’s a way for them to slow down prey that otherwise may swim too quickly for them.

Despite the sudden trauma, Mummert remained relatively composed as fellow surfers rushed to his aid. With his board destroyed by the shark’s razor-sharp teeth, Mummert was hoisted onto another surfer’s nine-foot board as a large group came together to get back to shore for immediate medical attention.

Miraculously, first responders at the scene worked to stem the bleeding to Mummert’s leg and determined that, although his injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening. Some of the gashes on his leg were six inches long and required stitches, but thankfully the attack did not sever any major arteries. He was transported via helicopter to a local hospital while authorities in the area closed the beach and searched for the shark.

Mummert and his loved ones expressed their gratitude for all those who assisted, even in the presence of a deadly predator. His partner Mish Wright took to social media to share her admiration and appreciation for the people who saved his life.

Mummert is not the first to suffer a shark attack this season. As Australia grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the surf-loving nation has seen several shark fatalities in recent months. There were four shark attacks in the span of five weeks, three of them fatal, with researchers linking the uptick in activity with whales making their annual migration north and sharks following in their wake. Great white sharks and other large species feed off whales when they die.

A man was killed after a shark attack off the coast of Fraser Island in Queensland while spearfishing at the start of July, and there was another fatal attack by a great white at Kingscliff in NSW. Just weeks before Mummert was attacked, a teen surfer lost his life after a shark bit him at Wooli Beach near Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Mummert and the million of other surfers in Australia have to watch out for sharks in their natural habitats, as even at beaches where there are shark nets in place, they are often surfing too far out past the barrier where sharks may frequent. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant and respectful of the marine life, and always swim or surf with others just in case.

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