June 25, 2013

The red panda.     Photo: flowcomm/Flickr

Red Panda Escapes National Zoo

Found thanks to social media

Rusty the red panda made a daring escape from his enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington on Monday, quickly becoming an Internet sensation, before turning up in a tree a mile from the zoo. A viral social media is credited with helping locate the raccoon-sized mammal within hours.

Officials are unsure how Rusty managed his great escape since his enclosure is topped with electrified fencing. But when the nearly one-year-old creature failed to show for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday, zoo officials called for help.

Around 1:30 p.m., Ashley Foughty and her husband were walking back from lunch when they spotted what looked like a red, bushy-tailed cat. She followed the animal, snapped photos of the creature, and called the National Zoo, which sent keepers to fetch him.

Rusty was dehydrated and shaky after his adventure, but appears to otherwise be in good health, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the LA Times.

Fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in the wild. They are hunted for their furry red tails, which are considered by some to be a good-luck charm. They are also incredibly adorable.



    Photo: USDAgov/Flickr

Forest Fire Evacuates Colorado Town

Fire crews don't expect to make gains until rainy season

An advancing forest fire that forced residents and visitors to evacuate a popular getaway in southern Colorado shows no signs of letting up, officials said Monday. About 600 firefighters are currently battling the 117-square-mile West Fork fire, which is burning about three miles from the town of South Fork in a section of the Rio Grande National Forest devastated by beetle-kill.

The fire will likely burn for months, and crews don't expect to make significant progress until the beginning of the rainy season in July.

"This is a significant fire with significant problems, and we are not going to see any significant containment until we have significant changes in the weather," Pete Blume of the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Command told NBC.

In addition to South Fork, crews are focused on preventing the fire from engulfing the Wolf Creek ski area, located near Pagosa Springs.

Read more about the life of professional Hotshot crews.


    Photo: Lucy Millsap/Twitter

First Ever Woman Wins Okie Noodling Festival

Caught 72-pound catfish barehanded

A 19-year-old former cheerleader has become the first woman to win top honors at the Annual Okie Noodling Festival in Oklahoma, an aquatic competition where contestants wrangle catfish with their bare hands. Lucy Millsap fended off 200 other competitors to win first place (and $1,500 to boot) in the “Big Fish” category.

“My dad asked me if I wanted to fish in the women's division,” said Millsap, who is part of an all-female noodling collective called the Bare Knuckle Babes. “I said, ‘Heck no.’ I don't want to fish in the women's division. I want to beat the men.” Millsap caught the prize-winning 72-pound catfish at Lake Texoma at about 3 a.m. the morning of the competition.

Noodling, which is illegal in all but 11 Southern states, involves the fisherman, or noodler, waving their arm around in a catfish hole until it bites. The noodler then reels in the catfish with their bare hands. It is very possible to lose a few fingers or worse. Video of a standard noodling procedure can be seen here:


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lightning Strikes 23 Boy Scouts

Then rubs its hands together wickedly

An enterprising lightning strike is feeling pretty proud of itself after it managed to hit 23 boy scouts at once Monday night in New Hampshire. The incident took place at the Griswold Scout Reservation near Belmont.

“At some point in time the lightning either struck nearby or struck the shelter they were under or a tree or something and traveled through into the meadow,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Parenti. He also said that while all of the boy scouts had been taken to local hospitals for evaluation, he wouldn’t call their injuries “serious.”

While most of the injuries were minor burns, a few scouts were given cardiac monitors for burns in their chest area. Several adult scout leaders were also hit, though not directly. All reported a tingling sensation after the strike.