Chernobyl Puppies are Making Their Way to the U.S. and Canada to Find Their Forever Homes

A veterinarian working for The Dogs of Chernobyl initiative bathes a stray puppy in Chernobyl.
A veterinarian working for The Dogs of Chernobyl initiative bathes a stray puppy in Chernobyl.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For the first time ever, a group of puppies that were born in Chernobyl, Ukraine, have been removed from the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant whose reactor exploded in 1986, causing one of the worst nuclear disasters the world has ever seen. As BuzzFeed reports, some of the descendants of dogs that survived the environmental catastrophe have been cleared of radiation and brought to the U.S. and Canada to start new lives.

Until 2018, it was illegal for animals to be removed from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, and it’s still illegal for people to live in Chernobyl City for more than three weeks at a time. When local authorities decided to make an exception for puppies last year, an organization called the Clean Futures Fund launched an adoption program to find new homes for healthy pups.

“You can’t bring anything out of the exclusion zone," Christine Anderson, who adopted one of the rescued dogs, told CBS Sacramento last December. "These puppies are the first things to ever make it out.” Her 8-month-old Chernobyl pup, named Persik, seems happy and healthy, aside from a few quirky habits that likely stem from trying to survive in a harsh environment.

“She really likes to hide underneath things ... and she builds nests,” Anderson says. “She’ll take shoes, take clothes, anything she could find and make a little barrier around herself. I think it makes her feel safe.”

Although some have warned of the dangers of petting the dogs in Chernobyl, Clean Futures Fund co-founder Lucas Hixson says it’s extremely rare to find traces of radiation among the animals. Nonetheless, all of the dogs are tested for radiation, and blood samples are taken as well. In an attempt to reduce the stray dog population, older dogs are spayed and neutered, while puppies are treated and taken to the nearby town of Slavutych to receive training.

More than 40 puppies are eligible for adoption, and over a dozen have already been brought to the U.S. Fourteen puppies were sent to New York. Persik wound up in Northern California. And a pair of siblings found forever homes in Ohio, where a video posted to Instagram shows the two pups being reunited.

In addition to the puppy adoption program, the Clean Futures Fund also continues to raise funds to help spay, neuter, and vaccinate the hundreds of stray dogs in Chernobyl, and you can learn more about their efforts in the video below.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

No Venom, No Problem: This Spider Uses a Slingshot to Catch Prey

Courtesy of Sarah Han
Courtesy of Sarah Han

There are thousands of ways nature can kill, and spider species often come up with the most creative methods of execution. Hyptiotes cavatus, otherwise known as the triangle weaver spider, is one such example. Lacking venom, the spider manages to weaponize its silk, using it to hurl itself forward like a terrifying slingshot to trap its prey.

This unusual method was studied up close for a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the University of Akron in Ohio. They say it's the only known instance of an animal using an external device—its web—for power amplification.

Hyptiotes cavatus's technique is simple. After constructing a web, the spider takes one of the main strands and breaks it in half, pulling it taut by moving backwards. Then, it anchors itself to a spot with more webbing in the rear. When the spider releases that webbing, it surges forward, propelled by the sudden release of stored energy. In the slingshot analogy, the webbing is the strap and the spider is the projectile.

This jerking motion causes the web to oscillate, tangling the spider's prey further in silk. The spider can repeat this until the web has completely immobilized its prey, a low-risk entrapment that doesn’t require the spider to get too close and risk injury from larger victims.

The triangle weaver spider doesn’t have venom, and it needs to be proactive in attacking and stifling prey. Once a potential meal lands in its web, it’s able to clear distances much more quickly using this slingshot technique than if it crawled over. In the lab, scientists clocked the spider’s acceleration at 2535 feet per second squared.

Spiders are notoriously nimble and devious. Cebrennus rechenbergi, or the flic-flac spider, can do cartwheels to spin out of danger; Myrmarachne resemble ants and even wiggle their front legs like ant antennae. It helps them avoid predators, but if they see a meal, they’ll drop the act and pounce. With H. cavatus, it now appears they’re learning to use tools, too.

[h/t Live Science]

Plano, Texas Is Home to a Dog-Friendly Movie Theater That Serves Bottomless Wine or Whiskey

K9 Cinemas
K9 Cinemas

For dog owners in Plano, Texas, movie night with Fido no longer just means cuddling on the couch and browsing Netflix. The recently opened K9 Cinemas invites moviegoers—both human and canine—to watch classic films on the big screen. And the best part for the human members of this couple? Your $15 ticket includes bottomless wine or whiskey (or soft drinks if you're under 21).

The theater operates as a pop-up (or perhaps pup-up?) in a private event space near Custer Road and 15th Street in Plano. Snacks—both the pet and people kind—are available for $2 apiece. Dogs are limited to two per person, and just 25 human seats are sold per showing to leave room for the furry guests.

Pet owners are asked follow a few rules in order to take advantage of what the theater has to offer. Dogs must be up-to-date on all their shots, and owners can submit veterinary records online or bring a hard copy to the theater to verify their pooch's health status. Once inside, owners are responsible for taking their dog out for potty breaks and cleaning up after any accidents that happen (thankfully the floors are concrete and easy to wipe down).

While many of the movies shown are canine-themed—a recent screening of A Dog's Journey included branded bandanas with every ticket purchase—they also hold special events, like a Game of Thrones finale watch party (no word on how the puppers in attendance responded to Jon Snow finally acknowledging what a good boy Ghost is).

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