February 7, 2020

Weekend reads: Why this cheetah has a therapy dog

Daily Briefing

    Watch a baboon carry a baby lion, what might explain the sudden interest in "toddler milk," and more.

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Eat your fruits and veggies. "Flavonols," a class of compounds commonly found in fruits and vegetables, may lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study published in Neurology. For the study, researchers asked 921 men and women to report their diet using food questionnaires. Researchers then followed up with them an average of six years later. The researchers noted that participants with the highest levels of flavonols also tended to be more active and had higher levels of education. The researchers also found that, compared with those who were in the bottom 20% for flavonol intake, those who were in the highest 20% saw a 48% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's.

    See this baboon carry a lion cub. Kurt Schultz, a safari operator at Kruger National Park in South Africa, on Saturday saw something he said he's never seen before: a baboon carrying around a lion cub and grooming it as if it was its own baby. Unfortunately, however, Schultz said the baboon was part of a bigger troop that appeared "excited," and that in the excitement, the cub was injured. "[Baboons] are really strong animals and when they were all excited and fighting over the baby in the beginning, it could have been injured internally," he said. Considering how weak the cub was and how baboons behave, however, Schultz said he doesn't believe the cub will live long. "I don't see a chance of this poor cub surviving. The troop of baboons was large and a lion would not be able to get its young back," he said. "Nature is cruel at most times and the survival of a young predator cub is not easy. The lion cub would pose a threat to the baboons when it gets older." Here's the video, posted on Instagram.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Even cheetahs need therapy dogs. At the Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey, staff have paired a cheetah named Nandi to a Labrador retriever named Bowie to help ease Nandi's anxiety. Charlotte Trapman-O'Brien from Turtle Back Zoo said the pair have "been together since they were just a few weeks old." According to Trapman-O'Brien, the pairing isn't as unusual as it may seem. Cheetahs tend to be shy and are "naturally skittish by nature," Trapman-O'Brien said, so zoos around the country are pairing them with emotional support dogs. So while Bowie and Nandi have fun wrestling around and playing games, Bowie's job is really to be Nandi's "confidence builder," she said.

    Why toddlers are drinking formula. Usually, when a child is between one and three years old, nutritionists recommend giving them water or cow's milk. But formula manufacturers are saying that toddlers should also be drinking formula. The Infant Nutrition Council of America, an industry group for formula makers, said "toddler milk," a powdered drink meant to provide toddlers with more nutrients, could "help fill nutrition gaps" while toddlers are growing. Now, according to the World Health Organization, toddler milk is the fastest growing breast-milk substitute, but is it really the healthiest choice? According to researchers, the powdered milk not only contains less protein per serving than cow's milk, but it also contains added sugar. And a statement by a panel of child-nutrition experts that represented the American Academy of Pediatrics said toddler milk is "not recommended." So why are people buying the formula? Olga Khazan for The Atlantic writes that the recent slump in infant-formula sales might explain why manufacturers are pushing consumers to buy toddler milk. Fran Fleming-Milici, the director of marketing initiatives at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said, "The messaging on the packaging leads you to believe that your child might be missing something unless you buy that product. She added, "It kind of plays into parents' fear and concerns from wanting the best for their children."

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