China is building the world’s first migratory Bird Airport

February 17, 2017 by  
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Modern architecture has often been accused of encroaching on wildlife habitats – but McGregor Coxall just unveiled a new project that’s literally for the birds. The world’s first migratory “Bird Airport” is designed to convert a landfill in Lingang, China into a wetland bird sanctuary Every year, more than 50 million birds journey from the Antarctic along the East Asian-Australian Flyway (EAAF), but the route is increasingly threatened to due to coastal urbanization. Today, 1 in 5 globally endangered waterbirds fly this route as their population rapidly decreases. Related: 1.5 billion birds disappear from North America’s skies To address the problem, the Port of Tianjin called on international designers to create a wetland sanctuary for migrating birds. McGregor Coxall’s Bird Airport includes 60 hectares of wetland park, where birds will be able to stop, refuel, and breed on their way through the flyway. Renewable energy will be used to irrigate the wetlands with recycled waste water and harvested rain. Adrian McGregor, CEO and lead designer of McGregor Coxall explains the inspiration behind the project, “The earth’s bird flyways are a wonder of the natural world. The proposed Bird Airport will be a globally significant sanctuary for endangered migratory bird species whilst providing new green lungs for the city of Tianjin.” The city of Tianjin will enjoy many benefits from the new green infrastructure . The proposal calls for plenty of park space – including walking and cycling paths along a 7 km network of recreational urban forest trails. Construction on the bird airport is slated to begin late 2017, and the project will be completed in 2018. + McGregor Coxall

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China is building the world’s first migratory Bird Airport

Playful KATRIS scratching post blocks fit together like Tetris for cats

February 13, 2017 by  
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Cat owners who find themselves hiding grubby scratching posts out of sight will love this awesome KATRIS set that combines feline fun with playful design. The modular system consists of scratchable blocks that double as flexible furnishings . All of the pieces are non-toxic, and they can be assembled in a variety of ways so that cats can enjoy an ever-changing feline playground. Featured on an episode of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell”, KATRIS is the result of extensive research into the best materials for feline furniture according to cat behavioral science. Each shred-resistant block is made with 200 sheets of FSC-certified heavy-duty paper , and they can support up to 300 pounds of weight. The blocks can be connected in a variety of ways using built-in straps. https://youtu.be/dHhO_CnZBjU Related: Architects turn a cramped apartment into a gorgeous loft where the owner’s cats can roam freely The blocks are manufactured using non-toxic ingredients, such as SGS-certified, non-toxic glue and eco-friendly branding ink made with non-toxic soybean inks. Not only is the whole system completely recyclable, but the blocks are designed to have an extremely long life cycle, further minimizing waste. + KATRIS Cat Via Curbed Images via KATRIS

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Playful KATRIS scratching post blocks fit together like Tetris for cats

If you eat seafood, you’re probably eating fleece microfibers

February 7, 2017 by  
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If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors (or simply like to feel warm and cozy throughout the day), you’re probably a fan of synthetic fleece jackets. But what you might not know is that every time one of these items runs through the wash, it releases thousands of microscopic plastic fibers into the water supply. These microfibers end up being eaten by fish and marine life – where they eventually end up back on our plates. A study last year from the University of California Santa Barbara , in collaboration with the clothing company Patagonia, shows that every time polyester fleece jackets are run through the wash without detergent, up to 2 grams of these fibers could be shed. It’s worse for top-load washing machines, which release seven times more fibers than the front-load variety. Unlike clothes dryers, which can capture loose fibers in lint traps, loose material in washing machines ends up simply being washed down the drain. Unfortunately, these microfibers are so small that wastewater treatment plants can’t filter them out. Instead, they end up being released into the environment, where they’re eaten by wildlife. Related:  Patagonia says synthetic fibers (including their own) are polluting the oceans Are these microscopic bits of plastic harmful when ingested? It’s not entirely clear. Some studies have show certain species can’t cope well with the microfibers: water fleas who inadvertently eat fleece fibers are more likely to die, and common crabs that have ingested the tiny bits of plastic eat less food overall. But further research is needed to show if humans who eat fleece-filled seafood suffer any ill effects. Unfortunately, short of avoiding fish altogether, it’s impossible to know whether you’re ingesting microfibers or not. For now, the only real solution is to either avoid washing your fleece when possible, or rig your washing machine with a filter to catch microfibers before they enter waterways. Sadly, that won’t do much unless everyone who wears synthetic fleece takes this advice to heart. Via NPR Images via Kelly and StockSnap  

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If you eat seafood, you’re probably eating fleece microfibers

Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

January 30, 2017 by  
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Call us crazy, but it seems like you can’t sling an acai quinoa bowl these days without slamming into some healthful new “superfood” we should all be eating. Never mind that actual scientific corroboration tends to be scant, or that a balanced diet, chock full of fruits and vegetables, will outperform even the most faddish of nutritional panaceas on the best of days. The ability to reduce the complexities of calorie counting, ingredient-label translating, and consistent clean living to a trite “eat this, not that” has undeniable appeal. Bonus points if it adds a dash of exoticism or mystery to our otherwise quotidian existence. The latest bandwagon-in-making, according to Metro ? Giraffe milk. By way of evidence, the British rag pointed to a 1962 study that claimed that giraffe milk has almost four times the fat content of full-fat cow’s milk and 12 times that of skim. Giraffe milk contains comparable amounts of riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6 as cow’s milk, the study continued, but higher levels of vitamins A and B12. It’s the excess fat that we desire, Metro insists. A Tufts University study that followed some 3,000 people over two decades found that people who had the most dairy fat in their diets had a 46 percent lower risk of diabetes that those who ate the least. Related: Giraffes are on the verge of going extinct While it was “too early to call whole-fat dairy the healthiest choice,” Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the study’s author, also called for a national policy that was more neutral on dairy fat until additional data presented itself. But even Metro admitted that the idea of giraffe milk on supermarket shelves would be unlikely. “When it comes to a giraffe, it would be almost impossible to get one to stand still long enough to be milked—let alone enough to set up a profitable business,” it wrote. “The giraffes that have been milked have been milked under controlled conditions by scientists.” There’s also the fact that giraffes are on the brink of extinction . The IUCN Red List reported a 38 percent decline in the giraffe population since 1985, plus a “high risk of extinction” in the wild if the trend continues. The culprit, of course, is humans. Illegal hunting, habitat loss through agriculture and mining, and growing human-wildlife conflict could soon spell the irretrievable loss of the world’s tallest land mammal. The last thing giraffes need is someone chasing after them with a bucket and a stool. Photos by Pixabay and Andrew Magill

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Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

January 26, 2017 by  
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The rescued elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India get a second chance at life after being abused and exploited by their former owners and handlers. Along with finally having the freedom to take walks, bathe and play in water pools, and scratch themselves up against trees, several of the sanctuary’s elephants recently received a new winter wardrobe: giant sweaters lovingly hand-knit by the villagers of Mathura. As the nighttime temperatures dipped to freezing levels last year, the center’s staff issued a call to local women to help provide a little extra warmth to the giant pachyderms. The villagers responded enthusiastically, coming together to knit and crochet the brightly colored sweaters . The elephants quickly took to their new attire and, judging from the photos, seem pretty intrigued by the knitting process itself. In addition to looking cheerful and festive, the sweaters help protect the vulnerable animals from the cold and stave off their arthritic symptoms. Related: Cindy Chinn carves a tiny family of elephants into pencil tips The only downside to this giant knitting project is the length of time to make one sweater: each one takes about four weeks to complete. As a result, only three of the 20 elephants at the sanctuary have been fully outfitted so far, while the rest have been given blankets. Since the elephants suffered years of neglect and mistreatment, they are especially susceptible to infections and illnesses, so staying covered up in the poncho/sweater/long john combos is essential for keeping them healthy. The center is hoping for more volunteers to continue knitting in order to outfit every elephant with his or her own sweater by next winter. Considering that Wildlife SOS plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year , that’s a pretty tall order. If you want to get involved , including  volunteering on-site with the organization and preparing food or helping to bathe these gentle giants or donating funds, click here . Via Booooooom , Daily Mail , and My Modern Met All images © Roger Allen

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Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month

January 26, 2017 by  
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Never one to dally, Elon Musk has announced he’s about to dig into his ambitious project to build a tunnel under Los Angeles. The new tunnel is expected to tame the city’s massive traffic congestion problem . According to Motherboard , the mogul announced the news via Twitter on Wednesday morning with a tweet that said: “Exciting news on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.” It’s clear that Musk is not one to let an idea languish, as he only stated his goal to build a tunnel in mid-December 2016 while publicly complaining on Twitter about the traffic problems in Los Angeles. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” he wrote on Twitter in December. Related: Elon Musk says Trump administration may be “positive on renewables” “It shall be called ‘The Boring Company,’” he wrote, according to Motherboard . “Borings, it’s what we do.” And, a month later, after a meeting with then-President-Elect Trump , voila – it’s happening. Musk confirmed he’s soon going to begin work on a tunnel carved out by Tunnel Boring Machines that will start at some point next month. According to Motherboard, the tunnel will start across the road from the SpaceX office in Los Angeles, located in Crenshaw, near the 105 Freeway. Musk stated his interest in tunnels that would “alleviate congestion completely” as far back as 2015 in an interview with scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson . Via Motherboard Images via Maurizio Pesce and Minesweeper ,

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Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month

Grass hill hides a magical hobbit teahouse in Slovenia

January 26, 2017 by  
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A magical little teahouse is tucked away in the verdant hills of Slovenia. Created by Danica and Jože Kolari?, this beautiful tiny building was made from natural materials and perfectly complements the organic garden that grows around it. The hobbit house -inspired tearoom is almost entirely hidden from view from above thanks to its turfed roof, while its charming cottage-like interior was crafted using reclaimed materials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIcphf3dq5g This hobbit house-inspired tearoom was recently spotlighted on a popular TV show called Ambienti , where viewers got a sneak peek at the construction process . First, the hillside was excavated to create space for the foundations of the timber-framed building. A concrete retaining wall was built in the rear. Once the building was complete, growing medium for the vegetation was installed on the roof so that the grass from the hillside would grow overtop the structure and make it appear as if the structure were carved out of the hill. Related: This luxury hobbit home in the UK could be yours for just $1 million The quaint interior is lined in large timber planks and features a wood-burning fireplace built from stone and brick set into the rear concrete wall. Many of the materials were reclaimed from the crumbling ruins of nearby farmhouses, which gives the tearoom its charming antique character. In addition to the teahouse and the organic flower and herb gardens, Danica and Jože Kolari? also have a self-built beehive and garden pavilion. + Ambienti Images by Jasna Marin, screenshots from Ambienti

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Grass hill hides a magical hobbit teahouse in Slovenia

How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

January 24, 2017 by  
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In the Congo Basin live many of Africa’s most iconic animals — elephants, hippos, mountain gorillas and buffaloes. Additionally, 1,000 types of birds and 700 kinds of fish call this their home, coexisting with the people who’ve…

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How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

January 23, 2017 by  
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A couple hundred years ago, there were around two million wolves in the United States, but human expansion dramatically slashed those numbers. Conservationists recently celebrated victory as gray wolves slowly returned to the American West, but Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to undo that progress as Republican lawmakers look to roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While some 60,000 wolves reside in Canada and Alaska, in the American West there are only around 1,700 of them left. The ESA helped these animals gain ground again, but with wolves still only living in only 10 percent of their old range in the American West, there’s still a long way to go to ensure the species recovers. But some industries – like industrial agriculture and oil and gas – wish to operate in wolf habitats that are currently protected. The Center for Biological Diversity tracked donations to Congress from those large industries and found as campaign donations increased, so did bills threatening the ESA, which limits the land those industries can utilize to protect animals. Related: Gray wolves spotted in California for the first time in over 90 years Now, according to the Associated Press, Republicans want to alter the ESA “from a tool to protect huge areas of habitat for imperiled species into little more than limits on hunting for protected animals” even though a 2015 survey revealed 90 percent of registered voters support the ESA. Trump hasn’t said anything about wolves or the ESA, but he’s already shown he supports industries over national parks . If Republicans want to severely limit the ESA’s power, it doesn’t seem likely Trump would stop them. Wolves are in trouble, but don’t lose hope yet. There are a few actions you can take to help these majestic animals. Outside recommends donating money to the Center for Biological Diversity or Defenders of Wildlife , both of whom would fight anti-wolf legislation. Or you could write to your representative and remind them they’re supposed to represent the people, many of whom support the ESA, not the interests of big industries. Via Outside Images via Angell Williams on Flickr and Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr

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Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

January 17, 2017 by  
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A female zebra shark ( Stegostoma fasciatum ) in Australia has learned to live, and reproduce, without a male counterpart. The shark, which lives in an aquarium , is one of only three animals documented that once reproduced sexually – she had a male partner for around 13 years – and then switched to reproducing asexually. Now scientists are now wondering if this phenomenon is more common than we thought. Leonie the zebra shark had a male partner from 1999 to 2012 at a Townsville, Australia aquarium, and they had over two dozen babies. When her partner was moved to a different tank, Leonie spent around four years by herself, until she gave birth to three surprise baby sharks in 2016. She’d lacked contact with any males for those four years. Scientists initially thought perhaps she’d saved sperm from the former male partner, but genetic testing revealed the three babies only had DNA from their mother. Related: Researchers record fish “singing” choruses at the break of dawn in Australia Sharks can reproduce asexually when an adjacent cell called a polar body fertilizes an egg, and it could be that is what happened with Leonie. The mechanism isn’t optimal, as it can lead to inbreeding, but could be employed by sharks when there aren’t any males around. Lead author on a study published by Scientific Reports , Christine Dudgeon of The University of Queensland , told New Scientist, “It’s not a strategy for surviving many generations because it reduces genetic diversity and adaptability. It might be a holding-on mechanism. Mum’s genes get passed down from female to female until there are males available to mate with.” Some species such as other sharks, snakes, rays, turkeys, and Komodo dragons are capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually, but asexual reproduction usually happens in females that have never reproduced sexually. The only other female animals recorded switching from sexual to asexual reproduction are a boa constrictor and an eagle ray; both lived in captivity. But it could be this anomaly actually occurs more frequently than we realized. Dudgeon said perhaps we just haven’t been looking. Via New Scientist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

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