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Invading Animals: The Cane Toad

On this week’s news update: a ban on cats to protect wild birds, a spacecraft springs a leak, and scientists discover that goats prefer smiley faces!

Cat ban

Cats can be cute, cuddly, and lots of fun, but they can also be a danger to birds and other wild animals. The village of Omaui, in New Zealand, is home to 35 people and approximately eight cats. The surrounding area provides a habitat for many wild birds – and they’re at risk of being attacked by cats.

To protect this wildlife, the local government now wants to ban people from owning cats. Existing cats will have to be registered, and when a cat gets old and dies, its owner won’t be allowed to replace it. Some Omaui residents are angry, saying they need cats to keep their homes free from rats. But others argue the ban is necessary to protect the area’s wild animals.

A hole in space

In June, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS). It was carrying three new ISS crew members. Now, a hole has been found in the wall of the Soyuz, which has allowed a small amount of oxygen to leak out of the ISS.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, isn’t sure what caused the damage. At first, they thought a small piece of space rock, called a micrometeoroid, had crashed into the Soyuz. Now they think someone working on the Soyuz may have caused the damage with a drill. Thankfully, the ISS crew is not in danger, and they’ve fixed the hole temporarily while their colleagues on Earth find a long-term solution.

The men who smile at goats

Scientists already think that dogs can recognise different human facial expressions. Now, researchers in the UK have found that goats prefer happy-looking faces.

The researchers let goats explore two photographs: one of a person smiling, and one of the same person frowning angrily. Most of the goats approached the smiley faces first. They also spent longer investigating the happy people with their snouts. The researchers think this could mean that farm animals, such as goats, are better at recognising human emotions than we previously thought. So, next time you see a goat… give it a smile!

Learn more…

The residents of Omaui introduced cats to the local environment, making the cats an invasive species. Watch Invading Animals: The Cane Toad to discover more about invasive species.