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What does a 14,000-pound elephant eat? Whatever the elephant wants.

ELEPHANT DEMANDS COOKIES. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.


For those of us in North America, that might sound like the setup to a joke. But for farmers in Africa, it's a real problem.

A fully grown elephant can eat up to 600 pounds of food a day. During a long, hot day of walking around the savannah, a farmer's crop might look like the perfect place for an elephant to rest and refuel.

But an elephant can easily eat everything the farmer has spent the last year growing. And fences — even electric ones — don't always work.

This leaves farmers with very few options.

Sometimes they'll try to scare the elephants away with firecrackers or guns. Sometimes they'll directly attack the elephants.

Both people and elephants have been killed in these conflicts.

But there is a new kind of fence that could dramatically change the relationship between farmers and elephants, and it's filled with bees.

Dr. Lucy King and one of her beehives. Photo by Elephants and Bees Project, used with permission.

Dr. Lucy King and her team at the Elephants and Bees Project have been working on this fence since 2006.

The idea comes from an interesting observation: Elephants really, really do not like beehives.

That's because although elephant hides can be very thick in places, bee stings can still hurt, especially around the face and trunk. Elephants won't even eat from trees that have beehives in them.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

Local Africans have known that for a while, but when King learned this from her adviser in the mid-2000s (while she was a graduate student), she was intrigued. She travelled to Kenya to learn more about the behavior.

First, King and her colleagues set up tests to see what it was about the bees that was scaring the elephants away. She discovered that just playing the sound of an angry beehive is enough to drive elephants away. There's even a special elephant rumble to warn each other of swarms!

Then one day, King had an "aha" moment under an acacia tree.

It was a hot day and a family of elephants was resting nearby, unaware of a beehive hidden in the acacia tree. Watching the elephants, King's assistant picked up a rock and dinged the beehive with it, sending the elephants — and the researchers — scrambling.

"The alarmed elephant family took off immediately at a run along the river bank kicking up dust until they were out of sight," King said in an email. "We watched the activity in awe until the bees turned their attention to us and I had to drive off at pace to avoid being badly stung."

Watching the beehive swing back and forth on the branch while elephants thundered away gave King the inspiration for her beehive fence design.

The fences act like giant buzzing trip wires.

Photo by Elephants and Bees Project, used with permission.

The free-swinging beehives are strung up on poles all around a farm. If an elephant touches one (or if it touches one of the long wires that runs between the poles), the beehives will start to bounce and swing. This irritates the bees, which then come out in full force and drive the elephants away from the farmer's crops.

These fences are already being used in at least 11 countries across Africa and Asia.

The idea was so successful that King now runs the Elephants and Bees Project, which has partnered with the nonprofit Save the Elephants, Oxford University, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. The Elephants and Bees Project even has its own research center in Sagalla, Kenya.

Photo by Elephants and Bees Project, used with permission.

"We regularly host visitor training days [at the research center] to help other project sites and communities learn how to build beehive fences so they can go back to their own sites and initiate the projects for themselves," King said. They have new crops of researchers and graduate students coming to them too.

They've even put out a Beehive Fence Construction Manual, which is free to download.

The beehive fences aren't perfect — King says a few sneaky and fearless elephants will still get into the crops every once in a while.

But among the communities she's worked with, human-elephant conflicts have fallen 80%. The Elephants and Bees Project is now collaborating with sites all over Africa and Asia to help them construct their own beehive fences.

King is still working with people in Kenya to improve the idea as well. They've been experimenting with mixing "dummy" beehives into the fence to reduce costs. They're also expanding a honey-processing facility.

But this is a win-win solution, as both the farmers and the elephants benefit from it.

The farmers get to keep their crops, which the bees also help pollinate. The farmers can also benefit from beekeeping products such as honey or beeswax, which they can sell to help offset the cost of the fence or use in their own households.

Photo by Elephants and Bees Project, used with permission.

The elephants, meanwhile, benefit from the happy coexistence with humans and increased safety.

"Communities typically don't want trouble," King said. "Only if they are really getting desperate will they want to kill an elephant for crop-raiding."

This is great news because it could potentially alleviate one of the many pressures on elephant populations these days.

Plus, clever ideas like this show how listening to local knowledge, combined with careful observation and study, can lead to effective solutions to real problems.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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