If you're strolling through Taronga Zoo in Sydney in the near future, you may get some otherworldly vibes.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.


The surreal sights and lights, however, aren't meant to pull your head away from Earth — they're there to show you just how precious this planet really is.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Every year, light installations, musical performances, and creative forums take over Australia's largest city in a massive weeks-long event called Vivid Sydney. And this year, Taronga Zoo is getting in on the action.

The zoo created 10 amazing animal light sculptures representing critical species that Taronga is committed to protecting. Here's a look at the spectacular designs:

1. As big and blue as the sky, the Asian elephant is an obvious must-see.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

The real elephants at the Taronga Zoo are part of crucial global efforts to keep this species — which is endangered in the wild — from going extinct. There are as few as 35,000 left in the wild today.

2. Pretty in pink, the Sumatran rhino is hard to miss ... at the zoo, at least.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These delightful creatures, which snack on things like fruit and shrubs, are extremely hard to spot. Experts believe no more than 400 Sumatran rhinos are alive today, making the species one of the rarest large mammals in the world.

3. The marine turtles at Taronga don't need water — they've got plenty of air to swim through.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Marine turtles have called the oceans home for over 100 million years. So it makes sense that Australia is fighting hard to keep them around another 100 million. Many species of marine turtles are classified as either vulnerable or endangered Down Under, which grants them special protections from threats, like hunting.

4. Australian crocs: Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Although freshwater and saltwater crocs in Australia are pretty much terrifying on all accounts, their existence is vital to keeping entire ecosystems in check. That's why it's been illegal to hunt or harm them in Australia since 1972.

5. The pangolin sculpture is rad but certainly not built to scale.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Real pangolins are very small, very scaly, and — for some species — quickly being eaten into extinction. Although it's largely illegal to hunt and trade pangolin for their meat or scales, conservationists are facing an uphill battle in keeping these little guys out of unsafe hands around the world.

6. With its bold stripes and small stature — er, small for a wild cat, that is — the Sumatran tiger is in dire need of our help.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Sumatran tigers — the smallest surviving tiger subspecies in the world — are prime victims of deforestation and poaching. Their numbers have dropped significantly in recent decades, with as few as 400 alive today.

7. Lemurs are holding on tight to every last branch they have left.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Lemurs don't have much in common with the Sumatran tiger, but being a victim to deforestation is a big one. The furry creatures, native to Madagascar, have faced steep population declines due in large part to forest burning that creates more pastures for livestock.

8. Corroboree frogs are hoping humans can save the day.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Although they're among Australia's most iconic (and toxic) amphibians, the southern corroboree frog is critically endangered. Who's to blame? In large part, a widespread fungus that prevents them from breathing through their skin. So the Taronga Zoo teamed up with Australia's Department of the Environment to launch a breeding program to make sure this species doesn't disappear forever.

9. It doesn't get more peak Australia than the platypus.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Splashing around in eastern Australia and Tasmania, the platypus has garnered the attention of folks wanting to make sure these uniquely adorable creatures stay around for as long as possible. Evidence suggests overfishing and dried-up rivers could be affecting platypus numbers, so activists are keeping watch.

10. If you're keeping your eyes on the skies to spot a regent honeyeater, you may be waiting awhile.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These gorgeous yellow and black birds used to be seen in flocks of hundreds, according to the Australian government. But gone are the good old days. Their dwindling habitats in the Victoria and New South Wales forests have been a key concern for advocates rooting for these honeyeaters to stick around.

The zoo also included several other sculptures to complement the critical species — "a supporting cast of creatures," so to speak — to celebrate as well.

11. Echidnas are strange and wouldn't have it any other way.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Let's face it: Echidnas are the perfect kind of weird. These funky, spiny anteaters are extremely rare and one of only two mammals that lay eggs (the other is the platypus!).

12. If you're going to create bright light sculptures of animals, it'd be an injustice to overlook chameleons.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These wacky lizards — which come in various shapes and changing hues — have long, sticky tongues and eyes that move independently from each other.

13. Cicadas aren't the coziest creatures on this list, but they might be the most interesting.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

There are around 3,000 species of these paper-clip-sized, buzzing, clicking creatures. Amazingly, certain species have been known to disappear entirely for years, only to return back in full force (like, no big deal — nothing to see here).

14. Speaking of non-cozy animals, I've saved the least cuddle-worthy for last. Meet the funnel web spider.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Eesh. These Australian natives are creepy, crawly, eerily fast on their feet, and definitely deadly. (I'll wait as you glance around the room to make sure none are hiding nearby...)

If you happen to be Down Under between May 27 and June 15, 2016, say hi to all the creatures at Taronga Zoo.

Regardless of whether they're the real deal or a bundle of bright lights, the animals serve as a great reminder that all life here on Earth is definitely worth protecting.

Learn more about Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

@elenisabracos on TikTok

Look, it’s a sad situation for anyone to hear that Adele will not be gracing the stage any time soon. The beloved singer woefully announced on Instagram last Friday (Jan 21) that her planned residency in Las Vegas “wasn’t ready” due to coronavirus. Half of her crew had been infected, making it “impossible to finish the show.”

But for one fan in particular, who has tried—and failed miserably—to catch Adele live on three separate occasions, the news hit particularly hard. Luckily, her sense of humor proves that any tragedy can turn into comedy gold.

This story, with all its hilarious twists and turns, is quite the delightful saga. And though it doesn’t erase all the gutting disappointments left from pandemic cancellations, it does serve as wholesome entertainment.

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This article originally appeared on August 14, 2016


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






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