By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor
When I got to work Monday morning, there was a huge photo of a flamingo flanking the entrance to our building. This week is National Geographic’s annual Storytelling Summit, so writers, photographers, filmmakers, and other storytellers from around the world are on site. Someone decided Flamingo Bob (above, stretching) would be the perfect way to welcome them.
I agree. Flamingo Bob lives in Curaçao, in the Caribbean, with veterinarian Odette Doest. She took him in after he flew into a hotel window and got a concussion. He’s not able to be released back into the wild, so he lives on Odette’s property full time, with 90-some other rescue animals, earning his keep as an ambassador for conservation. He goes to school. He makes TV appearances. He walks around town meeting tourists. Everywhere they go, Bob and Odette teach people about the environment, from the issues of plastic pollution to bird entanglements in fishing nets. So how’d the story of Bob the Flamingo reach Nat Geo?
National Geographic photographer Jasper Doest is Odette’s cousin. He went to visit her about three years years ago, just for fun.
“We never thought about it being a story, until a flamingo walked into my room,” he told me. That very personal encounter turned into a wildly popular photo project (his Instagram feed makes me very happy!), which turned into a National Geographic story. Flamingo Bob is a local, and now international, celebrity. And he’s pretty dang cute. Subscribers can check out more of Jasper’s Flamingo Bob photos, and the story by Christine Dell’Amore, here.
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Your Instagram photo of the day
Beginners’ luck: On her first immersion in the Azores, photographer Cristina Mittermeier admits she got lucky. She was able to photograph an 80-foot-long whale in a way that fit into a single frame. The blue whale, she says, “resembles a rocket ship suspended in space. They dive deep and they swim fast, so getting in the right place at the right time without disturbing their feeding is really hard.”
Related: Nat Geo's best animal photos of 2019
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Today in a minute
I feel for you: Who knew? Parrots have empathy. Biologist Désirée Brucks tested African gray parrots—and found one parrot would give more to another parrot who had less. Bats, rats, and chimps are other species that have demonstrated selflessness, writes Jake Buehler.
Ginseng root: Appalachia has seen this before. Coal fever. Moonshine fever. Now it’s the humble ginseng root. Huge worldwide demand has spurred poachers—and fears among U.S. wildlife managers that wild American ginseng could be on a path toward extinction. “The days of finding large roots are pretty much gone,” Randy Cottrell, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Pennsylvania, tells Nat Geo.
Representing the nation’s capital: That would be a bobcat. Really. It is the first confirmed Washington, D.C., sighting of the urban-wary big cat since one (briefly) escaped from the National Zoo. The image of the cat was captured on a camera trap, Nat Geo’s Douglas Main reports.
New song(birds): Researchers have found 10 new species and subspecies of songbirds on three remote islands of Indonesia. Most of these just-found birds live nowhere else, Nat Geo reports.
The big takeaway
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The last glimpse
Hiya! A brown bear and her three cubs observe an approaching bear at Brooks Camp in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve. Here, summer visitors easily can view wild brown bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls. Environmentalists are concerned that a proposed copper and gold mining operation could affect their habitat, Nat Geo's Douglas Main reports.
Read: What will happen to these brown bears if this Alaska mine goes through?