Topic: Animals

Current Event May 27, 2020

Dogs Trained to Detect Virus

Health Animals

Dogs have powerful noses, and their sniffing skills might be able to help with keeping the pandemic under control. Many diseases have particular smells. Scientists are working to identify the scent of COVID-19 and training dogs to find it in humans. The trained animals would be able to quickly screen hundreds of people in places such as airports and train stations. Listen to hear how trainers teach dogs to find certain scents and when the first group of sniffers could be ready to work.

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Current Event May 10, 2020

Weird News: Playful Parrot’s False Alarm

Animals

Listen to hear about a parrot who plays a trick on the police.

Vocabulary: recently, deputies, unnerving

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Current Event May 5, 2020

Snapping Shrimp Growing Louder

Animals Climate Change Human Impacts Oceans Ecology Marine Biology

Snapping shrimp produce surprisingly loud noises by clicking their claws. The noises they make are so pronounced that they once led to a Navy investigation. Ocean warming is causing the snapping shrimp clicks to become even louder and more frequent. The increase in ocean noise from this and other human impacts can be disruptive to marine ecosystems where sound is important to survival. Listen to hear what snapping shrimp sound like and learn why their sounds might be helpful to some species and harmful to others.

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Current Event April 28, 2020

Wolves Playing Fetch

Animals Evolution

The relationship between humans and dogs is a special one, and there are multiple theories about how it originated and how it has changed over time. All dogs evolved from wolves, and scientists are learning more about that evolutionary process through research about similarities and differences in the behavior of wolves and dogs. Listen to this story about a game of fetch and how it might inform scientists’ understanding of the history of the special relationship between species.

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Current Event April 19, 2020

Weird News: Alligators Help with Social Distancing

Animals

Listen to hear how people in Florida are advised to keep a safe distance from each other during the pandemic.

Vocabulary: visualize, residents

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Current Event April 8, 2020

Caring for Zoo Animals

Animals

What happens to the animals when no one visits the zoo? Though the coronavirus pandemic has shut down many public gathering places and cultural institutions, including zoos, the animals continue to need daily care and feeding. Places like The Cincinnati Zoo depend on a small group of dedicated workers to show up each day to care for their beloved animals. Listen to hear zoo workers describe some of their favorite animals and learn how one baby hippo became an internet star.

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Current Event March 25, 2020

Remembering C.C. the Cloned Cat

Life Science Animals Genetics

A famous cat has died. C.C. the cat, sometimes known as Carbon Copy, was the world’s first cloned pet. Texas A&M University scientists cloned C.C. to investigate whether the process could be used by owners to keep their beloved pets alive. C.C. became a celebrity when a photo of her sitting in a lab beaker circulated around the world. Listen to hear the scientist who cloned C.C. explain the cloning process and learn why he does not recommend cloning your cat.

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Current Event March 18, 2020

Ninja Peacock Takeover

Animals Human Impacts

Peacocks are pestering residents of an historic neighborhood in Miami, Florida. It’s mating season, and the male birds are trying to attract attention by showing their feathers, screeching loudly, tearing into flowers, and attacking cars. Some residents admire the birds’ beauty while others complain about noise and damaged property. Listen to learn what the town is doing to solve the peacock problem and why one man compared the birds to ninjas.

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Current Event March 9, 2020

Weird News: Chance of Falling Iguanas

Animals Weather

Listen to hear about why iguanas were falling from the sky in southern Florida.

Vocabulary: uncommon, tumble, advice, slumber

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Science

Colorful Butterfly Wings

Animals Ecology Diversity and Adaptation

The eye-popping colors and designs on butterfly wings are not just for show, but are an important adaptation that helps the insects fend off predators. Some butterflies have wings containing toxins, signaling danger to birds and other hungry hunters. Others fold their wings for camouflage or flutter them so the colors confuse birds giving chase. Listen to hear an insect scientist explain more about the amazing ways butterflies’ colorful wings help them survive.

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Current Event February 26, 2020

Remembering Africa's Favorite Elephant

Animals International Conservation

A beloved elephant in Kenya has died. Tim was one of the few remaining “tuskers,” elephants with big, fully developed tusks. His dramatic good looks and willingness to pose beautifully for wildlife photographers made Tim an international celebrity. He lived a long life and died of natural causes, a surprising fact since many African elephants are poached, or killed illegally, for their tusks when they are young. Listen to learn why local farmers feared Tim and how wildlife scientists helped them learn to appreciate him.

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Current Event February 24, 2020

Bats and Coronavirus

Health Animals Viruses

Where did the new coronavirus start? Scientists believe the highly contagious virus spreading quickly among humans probably originated with bats. Bats’ amazing immune systems allow them to carry viruses without getting sick themselves. Just as with past viral outbreaks like SARS and MERS, scientists believe bats infected other animals with coronavirus, and those animals then passed it to humans. Listen to learn more about the origin of coronavirus and why scientists believe studying bats could unlock secrets about fighting disease.

This audio story was recorded in early February. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Science

Powerful Pollinators

Animals Ecosystems Plants Diversity and Adaptation Reproduction

Pollinators are animals that help plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one flower to another. Many plants that benefit from the help of pollinators bear fruit or nuts, providing healthy foods for people and other animals to eat. A variety of pollinators carry powdery pollen on their bodies from one flower to another, but bees are pollination superstars. Bees live in well-organized colonies and work quickly and productively. Their populations are in decline, however, and scientists are trying to understand why. Listen to hear how queen bees keep hives running smoothly and learn what can be done to help bees survive.

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Current Event February 17, 2020

Weird News: Cat's Great Escape

Animals

Listen to this story about a cat who is famous for his ability to escape.

Vocabulary: agenda, contained

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Current Event February 5, 2020

Counting Dog Years

Animals Genetics Biology

Scientists have developed a new, more accurate way to count a dog’s age in human years. Until now, people have generally believed that one year in a dog’s life equals seven years of human life. But when scientists compared chemical marks on dog and human DNA to see where they matched, they found surprising results about the relationship between dog and human ages. Listen to hear a scientist explain how the new technique works and what the research on canine aging means for dogs and their human friends.

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Current Event February 3, 2020

Weird News: Beekeeper Police Unit

Animals Science Law

Listen to learn about the special beekeeping unit of the New York Police Department.

Vocabulary: deployed, expertise, extract

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Current Event January 27, 2020

Weird News: Boy Lassos Big Fish

Animals Sports

Listen to hear about a young boy who caught a six-foot fish with a lasso.

Vocabulary: exaggerate

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Science

Australian Animals

Animals Diversity and Adaptation

Australia is full of diverse and unusual animal life. It is home to hundreds of different species of marsupials, which are mammals that carry their babies in pouches, along with deadly snakes, spiders, and jellyfish. Listen to hear a story about exploring the Australian outback and learn about the unique adaptations and appearances of the animals living there.

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Current Event January 13, 2020

Weird News: The Fantastic Grandmothers

Animals

Listen to hear how a group of "fantastic grandmothers" are helping researchers study sea snakes.

Vocabulary: citizen scientist, venomous

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Current Event January 8, 2020

Lost Cat Found 1300 Miles Away

Animals

A man recently received a shocking phone call: a shelter had found his beloved lost cat, Sasha. Five years had passed since Sasha’s owners had last seen him, and Sasha was over a thousand miles from his home in Portland. No one is quite sure how, but Sasha made his way from Portland, Oregon to Santa Fe, New Mexico safely and survived without his owners for all that time. Listen to learn more about Sasha’s story and find out what happened when he returned home.

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