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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.

10/10. The Mayyas dance.

We can almost always expect to see amazing acts and rare skills on “America’s Got Talent.” But sometimes, we get even more than that.

The Mayyas, a Lebanese women’s dance troupe whose name means “proud walk of a lioness,” delivered a performance so mesmerizing that judge Simon Cowell called it the “best dance act” the show has ever seen, winning them an almost instant golden buzzer.

Perhaps this victory comes as no surprise, considering that the Mayyas had previously won “Arab’s Got Talent” in 2019 and competed on “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.” But truly, it’s what motivates them to take to the stage that’s remarkable.

“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle," one of the dancers said to the judges just moments before their audition. Another explained, “being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet.”

Nadim Cherfan, the team’s choreographer, added that “Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it’s really hard, and harder for women.”

Still, Cherfan shared that it was a previous “AGT” star who inspired the Mayyas to defy the odds and audition anyway. Nightbirde, a breakout singer who also earned a golden buzzer before tragically passing away in February 2021 due to cancer, had told the audience, “You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” The dance team took the advice to heart.

For the Mayyas, coming onto the “AGT” stage became more than an audition opportunity. Getting emotional, one of the dancers declared that it was “our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”

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Goodbye. Maureen. Your "favorite child" will miss you.

What makes a good obituary? First, it should probably reflect the essence of the recently deceased person in an authentic, honest light. Second, it should feel personal, showing how that person’s life affected the lives of others. Then, of course, the right dash of humor can certainly help spark joy in an otherwise solemn moment.

New York Times journalist Caity Weaver achieved all those things masterfully in a eulogy written for her mother—the coupon-clipping, chronically late, green-thumbed Dr. Maureen Brennan-Weaver.

Caity clearly put her knack with words to good use, because her hilarious tribute quickly went viral on Twitter, leaving people not only with a good giggle, but a very precise picture of her mom.
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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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