Brooklyn Zoo's New Pallas’s Cat Breeding Program Aims to Revitalize the Near-Threatened Species

iStock.com/Ukususha
iStock.com/Ukususha

The Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York recently welcomed two important new residents, Metro reports. The pair of Pallas's cats—Batu, a male from Poland's Krakow Zoo, and Sarnai, a female from Finland's Helsinki Zoo—are part of the zoo's just-launched Pallas's cat breeding program, a new effort to conserve the near-threatened species.

First recorded by German naturalist Peter Pallas in 1776, the Pallas's cat (also known as manul) is a wildcat known for its unique appearance. Roughly 15,000 adult Pallas's cats live in the wild in Central Asia and Eurasia today, but that number is shrinking. They've lost much of their native habitat in recent decades to mining and farming, and their favorite prey, pikas and marmots, have been hit hard by vermicide campaigns. Hunters also pose a threat, both because they kill the cat for its thick fur and because the cats can become accidentally caught in traps meant for wolves and foxes.

Pallas's cats aren't yet endangered, but their quickly declining numbers have earned them near-threatened status from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). By breeding cats that are already in captivity, the Prospect Park Zoo hopes to give the precarious population a boost.

Pallas's cats exhibits are rare in the U.S., with just 42 specimens being kept in captivity across 18 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. At the Prospect Park Zoo, visitors will be able to see the cats in a new exhibit that replicates their native habitat, with rocky terrain and nooks for hiding. The species has a brief mating season, and keepers will be looking out for cues from the female that signal she's ready to breed. For most of the year, the solitary animals will keep to themselves and will rarely be seen together in the exhibit.

If the program is successful, the zoo will hopefully become home to some Pallas's cat kittens in the near future. When and if they arrive, the kittens will stay at the Prospect Park Zoo as long they're nursing, after which they'll be placed at a different zoo.

[h/t Metro]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time, According to Rotten Tomatoes

MCA/Universal Home Video
MCA/Universal Home Video

If the ongoing popularity of shark films has taught us anything, it’s that we simply can’t spend enough screen time with these predators, who can famously ruin a beach day with one swift gnash of their teeth. And even if shark attacks are far less common than Hollywood would have us believe, it’s still entertaining to watch a great white stalk an unsuspecting fictional swimmer—or, in the case of 2013’s Sharknado, whirl through the air in a terrifying cyclone.

To celebrate Shark Week this week, Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a list of the best shark movies of all time, ranked by aggregated critics' score. Unsurprisingly topping the list is Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws, which quite possibly ignited our societal fixation on great white sharks. The second-place finisher was 2012’s Kon-Tiki, based on the true story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s harrowing voyage across the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft in 1947.

If you did happen to write off Sharknado as too kitschy to be worth the watch, you might want to reconsider—it ranks sixth on the list, with a score of 78 percent, and its 2014 sequel sits in ninth place, with 61 percent. The list doesn’t only comprise dramatized shark attacks. In seventh place is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s 2005 documentary Sharks 3D, a fascinating foray into the real world of great whites, hammerheads, and more.

But for every critically acclaimed shark flick, there’s another that flopped spectacularly. After you’ve perused the highest-rated shark films below, check out the worst ones on Rotten Tomatoes’ full list here.

  1. Jaws (1975) // 98 percent
  1. Kon-Tiki (2012) // 81 percent
  1. The Reef (2010) // 80 percent
  1. Sharkwater (2007) // 79 percent
  1. The Shallows (2016) // 78 percent
  1. Sharknado (2013) // 78 percent
  1. Sharks 3D (2004) // 75 percent
  1. Open Water (2004) // 71 percent
  1. Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) // 61 percent
  1. Jaws 2 (1978) // 60 percent

[h/t Rotten Tomatoes]