The border wall wouldn't just cost money. It could cost us these rare animals too.

In November 2011, a camera trap recorded one of the most spectacular immigrants ever.

Deep in the Santa Rita mountains of Arizona, a single male jaguar padded in front of the camera. It was incredible: no wild jaguars had been seen in the United States since 1986.

Adult male jaguars can weigh up to 200 pounds, and the cat quickly earned an equally weighty nickname: "El Jefe," Spanish for "the boss." The boss wouldn't be alone for long. Over the next few years, a handful of other jaguars also appeared, including one as recently as November 2016.


Where did all these big cats come from? Mexico.

People aren't the only migrants crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.

It's natural for animals like El Jefe to roam vast spaces in search of food, water, and potential mates, though roads, towns, and nearly 700 miles of border fencing have made the journey difficult in recent years.

Construction of President Trump's border wall could make that even harder, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. In fact, over 100 different endangered species would be affected. So with a fast-track that'd ignore environmental impact requirements and wall prototypes already going up, let's not leave these animals faceless. In fact, let's meet a few of the denizens who might be affected.

The most impressive animal migrant is no doubt the jaguar.

All illustrations by Kaley McKean.

El Jefe definitely deserves his "boss" title. Jaguars are the third largest cat in the world and are so on top of the food chain that they regularly prey on alligators. Human hunters wiped out the U.S. population back in the 1960s, but recent sightings might mean they're poised for a comeback.

On the smaller end of things, the ocelot is especially striking too.

Found in Arizona and Texas, this diminutive wild cat doesn't roar; it chuckles, yowls, and mutters. Once hunted for its fur, the ocelet has been a protected species since 1989. Still, there may be fewer than 100 left in the United States.

The most obscure? Perhaps it's the jaguarundi.

The jaguarundi is a bizarre looking cat. It looks like a cross between a mini-mountain lion and an otter. Like the ocelot, they sometimes wander into the United States, but are even more rare.

Tired of weird cats? Meet the Mexican gray wolf.

The rarest and smallest subspecies of gray wolf in North America, the Mexican gray wolf was saved from extinction in the 1970s. The last five surviving wolves were captured and put into a breeding program. 113 of those survivors' descendants now roam Arizona and New Mexico.

On the coast, you might run into sea turtles and manatees.

The Mexican-American border juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, so construction would need to cut through the habitat of green sea turtles, West Indian manatees, and other aquatic species.

Then there's the ultra-speedy Sonoran pronghorn, which can outrun Olympians.

If you want to catch a pronghorn, you better come prepared — they can run up to 40 miles per hour. The reason? They may have evolved that ferocious speed to run away from ancient, equally-speedy cheetah-like predators.

The Sonoran pronghorn is a distinct, smaller subspecies of the more widespread American pronghorn. Its once massive population has been reduced to a mere 160 individuals in the United States.

Check out the ferruginous pygmy owl.

The reddish-brown owls (ferruginous means "rusty") don't fly very high, so a wall could cut them off from larger populations to the south, which has scientists worried about whether they could survive.

Even high-flying birds, like the red-crowned parrot, might be affected.

The border contains important nesting sites or migration paths for birds like the red-crowned and thick-billed parrots, the California condor, and even the bald eagle.

Not to mention countless smaller critters like the arroyo toad.

They might not be the most photogenic, but these little creatures matter too. Along with the California red-legged frog and the black-spotted newt, countless other animals travel freely across or live along the U.S.-Mexico border.

We need to build things. It's part of what makes humanity unique. But every project comes with its costs.

Normally, a massive project like the border wall would be preceded by a number of environmental impact studies, to protect as many creatures like El Jefe as possible. But that Homeland Security fast-track means that builders are free to skip those studies entirely — a potential "ecological disaster," as Vox reported last spring.

When we ask whether a border wall is worth spending over $20 billion on, we should also pause for a moment and also ask ourselves who else, or what else, is paying that price?

And, maybe most important: How does the boss feel about all this?

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less
via Good Morning America

Anyone who's an educator knows that teaching is about a lot more than a paycheck. "Teaching is not a job, but a way of life, a lens by which I see the world, and I can't imagine a life that did not include the ups and downs of changing and being changed by other people," Amber Chandler writes in Education Week.

So it's no surprise that Kelly Klein, 54, who's taught at Falcon Heights Elementary in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for the past 32 years still teaches her kindergarten class even as she is being treated for stage-3 ovarian cancer.

Her class is learning remotely due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, so she is able to continue doing what she loves from her computer at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, even while undergoing chemotherapy.

Keep Reading Show less