Sloths: Evolutionary losers or the true jungle king?

Sloths are unfairly ridiculed and underappreciated animals, says zoologist and filmmaker Lucy Cooke.

Surprising Science

Sloths are unfairly ridiculed and underappreciated animals, says zoologist and filmmaker Lucy Cooke. They are actually adapted to their life in the forest in a very ingenious way. In fact, they may be the ultimate survivors, making them the true kings of the jungle.

Pablo Escobar’s hippos: Why drug lords shouldn’t play God

Roaming horny hippos obtained illegally by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar? It's a heck of a true story.

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Lucy Cooke—an acclaimed zoologist, author, and TV presenter—talks to us about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar's animal menagerie, which included four hippos illegally stolen from Africa. Four became eight, and eight became sixteen, and so on, and since these hippos have no other hippo competition there's a strong potential that you may have a brand new species of hippo, which Cooke refers to as "Hippopotamus Escobarus." Her latest book is The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife.

The incredible reason spotted hyena society is ruled by females

Zoologist Lucy Cooke explains evolution's answer to non-consensual sex among spotted hyenas: an eight-inch pseudo-penis for all the ladies.

Surprising Science

When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were revealed in October 2017, an opinion writer for The New York Times likened him to a hyena, writing: "Hyenas cannot help their own nature." Ironically, as zoologist Lucy Cooke reveals, the qualities of a hyena couldn’t be further from the nature of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. "The truth about hyenas is that they are really, I think, more like the feminist icons of the animal kingdom," says Cooke. "The spotted hyena is an extraordinary creature... The female’s genitalia is a facsimile of the male’s. She has what is described in polite zoological circles as a "pseudo-penis", which is actually an eight-inch clitoris. And she also has a fake scrotum." This unusual appendage often suffocates cubs during labor and causes first-time spotted hyena moms to die in childbirth, so what is the evolutionary benefit? The most favored theory posits that it's a built-in anti-rape device, as the female's unique genitalia requires her full cooperation in mating. As Cooke explains in much more detail, hyena sex is not for the faint-hearted, and it's the female's power in this domain that helps her rule the entire society. Lucy Cooke is the author of The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife

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Do moose (and other animals) eat fermented fruit to get drunk?

Are all those drunk animals on YouTube actually drunk? Zoologist Lucy Cooke examines what's really going on when animals go, er, wild.

Cover image of 'The Truth About Animals' by Lucy Cooke.
Surprising Science

September is a busy month for the Swedish police force. It is the season of falling fruit, and for police officer Albin Naverberg, that means drunk moose on the loose. “Just as humans like wine, the moose like fermented fruits,” he told me as we drove across Stockholm to investigate the latest of their rowdy misdemeanors.

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