+
True
Disneynature's Born In China

Compared to the rest of the cat pack, the mighty snow leopard is in a category of its own — a "cat-egory" if you will.

Beautiful. Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr.

But how much do we really know about this icy animal? Truth is, even experts don't fully understand the complexities of the snow leopard. They're so elusive that it's guesstimated there could be anywhere between 3,920 and 7,500 left on Earth. (Not a lot either way, but more on that later.)


What people do know about the snow leopard, though, is incredibly enlightening, at times heartbreaking, and downright fascinating.

Here are 11 things you need to know about the cat they call the "ghost of the mountains":

1. Snow leopard sightings are rare — even for other snow leopards.

Hence the ghostly nickname. Snow leopards mainly roll solo — unless it's mating season or a mama is caring for her cubs. Other than that, good luck spotting these solitary animals that count dusk and dawn as their favorite times of day.

2. Rocks are their preferred mode of communication.

Just checking the inbox for messages. Image via BBC Earth Unplugged/YouTube.

When searching for a mate (or avoiding one for that matter), snow leopards are known to leave scrapes and mark their territories on rocks for other snow leopards to find and get the message.

3. Their nostrils function kind of like heaters.

Ever try breathing hot air from your nose? Well, a snow leopard's nasal cavities are short and wide to heat up freezing air before it ever reaches their lungs.

4. They essentially have pogo sticks for legs.

Ready to pounce. Image via Skeeze/Pixabay.

Snow leopards can jump as far as 50 feet in one go. For reference, a basketball hoop is 10 feet off the ground. So yeah, that's, umm, pretty incredible.

5. This ferocious-looking feline isn't actually so scary.

Don't worry, that's just a yawn. Image via Public Domain Pictures.

As intimidating as snow leopards might seem, there's never been a verified attack on a human. In fact, when disturbed, they're more likely to scurry away.

6. Snow leopards have built-in invisibility powers.

Can you spot the snow leopard? Image via BBC Earth/YouTube.

They can't vanish into thin air, but they can disappear in plain sight. Because of their light-colored fur and dark spots, snow leopards have an easy time camouflaging in their surroundings.

7. Their tails can do more than just wag.

Look at that thing! Image via Eric Kilby/Flickr.

Did you know a snow leopard's tail can be as long as its actual body? In fact, it even provides balance through uneven terrain and can act as an extra layer of heat when it's wrapped around them.

8. There are houses, mansions, and then there's a snow leopard's habitat.

2 million square kilometers. That's how vast the snow leopard's Central Asia habitat is — roughly the size of Mexico. Granted, that covers all snow leopards. But, for even just one, home can be a 1,000-square-kilometer area.

9. They're not that into snow. And they're not that leopard-like.

To be honest, snow leopards prefer rocky cliffs and ravines to snow. Plus, snow leopards are actually more similar to tigers than they are to common leopards. ("Rock tigers" does have a nice ring to it.)

10. These cats got monks watching their backs.

Image via Max Pixel.

Buddhist monks are protectors of the snow leopard. They ward off illegal poachers, a serious threat that's disrupting the future of snow leopards as we know it.

11. Snow leopards are rapidly depleting.

We need these creatures in our lives. Image via Skeeze/Pixabay.

In fact, in under two decades, their population is estimated to have declined by at least 20%. Because of illegal poachers, herders killing snow leopards to protect their flock, and even climate change, these majestic animals are now considered endangered.

Snow leopards play a pivotal role in the circle of life. And they need our help.

Snow leopards mainly eat mountain goats and sheep; without snow leopards, these herbivores will eat off the food supply reserved for other creatures and surrounding communities. Snow leopards help keep the ecosystem in balance, and everyone is able to live in harmony.

How can you say no to that? Image via Max Pixel.

But they need your support — help put a stop to their decline once and for all. Take action now with the Snow Leopard Trust or World Wildlife Fund and let's keep these friendly felines with us for generations to come.

It's time the "ghost of the mountains" was seen in all its glory.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Something joyful for everyone.

From sleepy pups to smooth skate moves, there's plenty of reasons to smile.

When the internet is full of dreary headlines, it’s even more important to balance it all out with things that spark joy.

Whether it comes from cute kids and animals, amazing art or wholesome acts of kindness, things that make us smile help remind our hearts that the world is indeed a big place, containing both the bad and the good. Sometimes it might take a little extra scouring to find what makes us smile, but Upworthy is here to make the search a little bit easier.

Without further ado, let’s get uplifted:

Keep Reading Show less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep Reading Show less