lions and tigers freed from circus
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These faces belong in the sun, not in cages.

Two separate rescue operations led to one happy ending for a group of tigers and lions held captive in traveling circuses.

The Bengal tiger family—Messi, Sandro, Mafalda and Gustavo—spent their lives knowing only of a world behind the bars of a metal train carriage, according to Plant Based News. Two of the older tigers had been dropped off (train cage and all) to a local farmer in San Luis, Argentina. The farmer agreed to look after the duo temporarily. But the circus never returned. Both tigers eventually had cubs, and the family of four continued to live in captivity for years.

“The train carriage was filthy with excrements and leftover meat and bones for a long time but fortunately this is not the case anymore,” said FOUR PAWS veterinarian and rescue mission leader Dr. Amir Khalil. FOUR PAWS is a global animal welfare organization dedicated to rescuing domestic and wild animals from inhumane or disastrous conditions.

The "Train Tigers" now live happily at the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa, in environments closer to their natural habitat.

No more metal cages, just open air, blue skies and soft grass.


Meanwhile in France, four lions named Angela, Bellone, Saïda and Louga (who would later earn the nickname "Lions of Lockdown") had endured a similarly toxic circus life since they were cubs. After being relinquished by their owner, an animal conservation group called Born Free moved the abandoned lions to a three-acre enclosure at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, also in South Africa. These lions and tigers are practically neighbors.

Born Free manager Catherine Gillson said in a statement, “The journey of our Lions of Lockdown has been long, but hopefully with each day spent with us in the peace of our sanctuary, they will continue to grow from strength to strength. Their re-homing to our Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari will allow them to get as close to experiencing the life they were denied for so many years! The sights, sounds and scents of their fellow rescued big cats will heighten their senses immediately as they begin to acclimatise to their new lives. They are now in their forever home in Africa.”

Many wild cats of the world are suffering. There are currently only 23,000 lions remaining in nature, and less than 4,000 tigers. Those alarming numbers aside, felines in the circus are deprived of natural enrichment and subject to flat-out abuse: training through punishment to perform tricks. Is this really necessary for a momentary blip of entertainment? Arguably lackluster entertainment at that. Seeing a tiger jump through a hoop of fire or a lion stand up on its hind legs certainly doesn’t hold a candle to witnessing it in its own environment. Sometimes the most natural things are the most fascinating.

That’s what makes these simultaneous rescue missions so important. We share the planet with some truly majestic creatures, who deserve respect and decency.

Thank you to organizations like FOUR PAWS and Born Free, who gave the “Train Tigers" and "Lions of Lockdown" a healthy forever home.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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