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Not every animal can be a majestic stag leaping over a Scottish field while grown men in kilts cry in the background.

Some animals are the opposite. They’re not majestic beasts of the wild glen, they’re just ... kind of trashy. As in, they literally eat trash.


Even though they might be pests (to us), it's partly human behavior that made them that way in the first place.

Animals are eating garbage because humans create so much of it. In 2013, for instance, Americans produced about 254 million tons of waste.

This steady source of free food — and shrinking natural habitats — has drawn the animals out of their innate routines and into our garbage cans and dumpsters, earning them their "nuisance" label.

But which animals are the trashiest?

Here are six animals who, with the help of us humans and all our trash, love to eat garbage.

1. Raccoons are taking over the world.

[rebelmouse-image 19533826 dam="1" original_size="750x515" caption="The masked bandit strikes again. Photo by Elwitsch/Pixabay." expand=1]The masked bandit strikes again. Photo by Elwitsch/Pixabay.

Raccoons have become invasive species in Europe and Japan because people began bringing them into homes as exotic pets.

While domesticating a raccoon for Instagram fame might seem like a cute idea, in reality, these animals aren't meant to cuddle on the couch with us. Even "tame" raccoons are still wild animals. Plus, wild ones can carry diseases like roundworm and rabies.

2. Wild opossums help keep Lyme disease away.

"I call the big one Bitey." — Homer J Simpson. Photo by Jussi You-S-See/Wikimedia Commons.

This is the one animal on this list I’m most likely to freak out — hey, give me a break, they’re super weird-looking and kind of hissy — but in the wild, they can actually be kind of cool. Opossums eat ticks, for example, which helps prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Plus, they carry their babies on their back, which is adorable.

I can’t be mad at them. Just as long as they stay out of my garage.

3. Yellowstone used to be full of trashy bears.

[rebelmouse-image 19533828 dam="1" original_size="750x471" caption="Bear, shouldn't you be out looking for honey or grubs or something? Photo by anoldent/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Bear, shouldn't you be out looking for honey or grubs or something? Photo by anoldent/Wikimedia Commons.

Dumpster bears were actually a big problem at Yellowstone. The park used to feature large garbage dumps, which bears would visit for free food. The close contact with people made the bears lose their natural suspicion of humans and people got hurt.

Thankfully, better garbage cans, improved guest behavior, and closing nearby dumps helped solve the problem.

4. Monkeys have learned to commit crimes.

[rebelmouse-image 19533829 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Not a good look, monkey. Photo by Harish/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Not a good look, monkey. Photo by Harish/Wikimedia Commons.

On the one hand, who doesn’t like monkeys?

On the other, monkeys can be wicked smart, have little grabby hands, and can run in packs, which spells trouble. In fact, group of macaques in Indonesia has even learned to steal stuff from tourists and hold it for ransom.

5. New York City's spent millions trying to exterminate rats.

[rebelmouse-image 19533830 dam="1" original_size="750x418" caption="Maybe he's just waiting for the M train. Photo by m01229/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Maybe he's just waiting for the M train. Photo by m01229/Wikimedia Commons.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed $32 million to rat extermination, but they’re not likely to disappear anytime soon. Rats are excellent survivors, and estimates on the NYC rat population number in the millions.

Then again, I think rats in general are pretty misunderstood. Sure, they’re kind of icky, but they also laugh when tickled.

6. Even seagulls can get sick from eating trash.

[rebelmouse-image 19533831 dam="1" original_size="750x562" caption="Behold, the bane of a thousand beach vacations. Photo from klafue/Pixabay." expand=1]Behold, the bane of a thousand beach vacations. Photo from klafue/Pixabay.

The noise! The screeching! The fact that they always seem to smell kind of like stale poop. If any animal was going to be crowned King Trashy, seagulls would be it.

Of course, eating garbage isn’t good for them. Yes, even seagulls can get sick from eating garbage — especially if they accidentally gobble up stuff like plastic.

The thing is, these animals wouldn’t be so trashy without, you know, our trash.

All of these animals were doing just fine without garbage dumps. They’re simply responding to our expanding cities and the smorgasbord of free (if smelly) food we leave behind.

Not all animals can be majestic, it’s true, but we certainly can do a better job helping them not be trashy, either.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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True

You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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