People banded together to find the world's loneliest frog true love — and it might have just worked.

Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation.

Perhaps the story of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t have to end in tragedy after all.

At least not for the frogs who go by the same names as those famous star-crossed lovers.  

Still, avoiding a tragic ending for these special frogs hasn’t been easy. The species almost went extinct forever.


Romeo is a Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare), an aquatic species unique to the cloud forests of Bolivia, that for the last decade, was known as the “world’s loneliest frog.”

He had been living all alone in an enclosure at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Bolivia. A team of scientist had brought him into captivity in 2008 with the hopes of creating a conservation breeding program for his species because they were witnessing amphibian population crashes in the region due to a deadly pathogen called chytrid, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.  

“The decline in this species was sudden and somewhat unexpected,” explains Christopher Jordan, the Central America and Tropical Andes Coordinator for Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC). “By the time biologists realized there was a problem, the species was already very difficult to find.”

Photo by Thiago Garcia.

In the 10 years since  Romeo’s capture in the wild, no biologist was able to find a single other Seheuncas water frog in the wild. They began to fear that Romeo was the last living member of his species.

For years, Romeo called out for a mate from his enclosure. Then in 2017, he stopped. Fearing he’d lost hope, his museum caretakers knew they had to try and do something.

So in February 2018, just before Valentines Day, GWS, Match and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative launched an international campaign (along with a Match profile and a Romeo twitter account) to raise $15,000 for scientific expeditions into the Bolivian cloud forests to make a desperate search for a girlfriend.

And it worked.

People all over the world fell in love with Romeo and rallied to help save his species. Romeo became a local star in his hometown of Cochabamba — and around the world too.

Before long, the campaign raised $25,000 from people in more than 32 countries — enough to fund several field expeditions.

And as soon as the Bolivian rainy season began (when the frogs are more likely to be spotted swimming in streams), a team of researchers embarked on their first search expeditions. They spent whole days scouring rivers and streams, then camped overnight in the cold, rainy forests.

And then finally, they found frogs.

Juliet with Teresa Camacho Badani.

To be precise, they found five: three males and two females.

“I could not believe it,” says Teresa Camacho, the leader of these expeditions who is also head of the herpetology department at the Natural History museum where Romeo calls home. “Seeing one of these frogs in the wild after 10 years was wonderful — even more so after having seen Romeo alone for so long.”

Back at the museum, the team built special habitats for their new residents and began monitoring them carefully before introducing them to Romeo.

They have to make sure that these frogs haven’t been exposed to the deadly disease that has wiped out much of the species and that they are healthy.  “We want to make sure that nothing we do harms the frogs at the Museum and will thus [we] take every precautionary measure necessary before introducing Romeo and Juliet.”

But so far, says Teresa, “Romeo’s friends are doing well and eating well” and they plan to keep all of Romeo and Juliet’s supporters updated on when the romantic meeting will happen and how it goes.

The team still has four remaining expeditions ahead in search of more frogs — but their success so far is great news for the species.

The plan is to try to learn as much as possible about the distribution of the species, their ecology and whether frogs are developing a resistance to disease. They also plan to launch a conservation breeding program if they can get Romeo and Juliet to mate, which will hopefully result in a reintroduction program for the species.

Of course, there is still a lot of research and work that needs to be done before they get to that stage, but finding the frogs has given new hope to the scientists.

“In the context of the current mass extinction that we humans are causing worldwide,” says Christopher Jordan, “Romeo and Juliet constitute a beacon of hope that show us that there is still time to protect the amazing diversity of life that we share with this planet."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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