Laika, the first space dog, died in orbit. But the next two – Belka and Strelka – survived. One of Strelka’s puppies was gifted to John F. Kennedy… but not before it was fully scanned for secret listening devices.
Several mammals, including rodents and bears, hibernate over the cold winters. But at least one bird does so as well.
If you happen to be living out in the wilderness, don’t rely on a diet of rabbit meat, and definitely don’t eat polar bear livers.
Kambala is a race with a difference: the winner may not be decided directly on speed, but rather on how high they can kick up water.
Pangur Bán was an Irish monk’s cat in 9th century Germany; we know this cat’s name because the monk wrote a poem about him. Even though this poem was written more than a thousand years ago, Pangur Bán was not the first named cat in history.
Przewalksi’s horse is genetically distinct from modern horses (it has an extra chromosome pair). It went extinct in the wild in 1969, but a small population was introduced to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in 1998; they have thrived.
The 105th surah of the Quran relates a battle outside Mecca between Yemeni war elephants and a flock of birds.
The origins of the modern piggy bank are lost to history, but the oldest extant piggy bank comes from 12th century CE Java.
The pig toilet was once a key sanitation building in rural China, Korea, and India. It was ruthlessly efficient, combining a toilet for people with a sty for pigs.
In 1822 a white stork landed in Klütz, then a town of the German Confederation, and finally unlocked the secret of where the birds go in winter.
Going from house to house singing Christmas carols is a long-held tradition. But what if the wassailers turn up with a goat or a horse’s head? And what if they take you with them?
One variety of bacteria has only ever been isolated from the wreck of the RMS Titanic; another type of bacteria has only ever been found inside clean rooms used to assemble spacecraft.
From 1951 to the 1980s the PATSY Award celebrated the greatest animal actor in Hollywood; from 2001 to today the Palm Dog Award celebrates the greatest canine actor showing at Cannes.
The Australian beetle Julodimorpha bakewelli attempts to mate with discarded beer bottles, sometimes to the point of its own death.
Specially designated “sentinel chickens” allow health officials to track the emergence of infectious diseases like West Nile virus amongst human populations.
In the early 20th century, millions of chickens wore rose-coloured eyeglasses so they wouldn’t turn into cannibals.