At long last, love is in the air for two old tortoises from the Knoxville Zoo. Al and Tex, a pair of male Aldabra tortoises aged 130 and 90, respectively, have been living the bachelor lifestyle for the last few decades — but thanks to a little matchmaking from the facility’s reptile expert, the duo are getting another chance at romance. Recently, the two males were introduced to a couple of females tortoises on loan from a zoo in Atlanta, and it didn’t take long for the sparks to fly.
Al is the zoo’s oldest and largest male tortoise; at 130-years-old, he weighs in at approximately 550 pounds — but despite his well-fed appearance, Al’s been starved of one thing in particular. The last encounter Al had with a lady tortoise was back in 1983, the year his female companion died. Since then, Al has been sharing his enclosure with another long-time bachelor, Tex, who at age 90, hasn’t seen a female since the late 1980s. But despite the perks of singledom, the two tortoises were enlisted to help preserve their species — by getting down to business and making babies.
For Michael Ogle, a herpetologist from the Knoxville Zoo, the aging males’ genes were just too good to not be passed on to a new generation of tortoises. So, following a little matchmaking diplomacy, Ogle was able to track down three females tortoises from facility in Atlanta: Patches, Corky.
After letting the females grow accustomed to their new enclosure in Knoxville for a few months, last week Al and Tex had the chance to meet their new roommates. KnoxNews has the lowdown on what happened next:
LOWELL — Katrina Walther was 16 when her parents split up and she didn’t want to be in the middle of it so she just left. She moved away.
“I lived out of my car,’’ she said. “I was young. I didn’t know any better.’’
She went to high school during the day and worked full time at the Taco Bell in Walpole at night.
“They told me I was the fastest American employee they had,’’ she said.
In the summer, she drove down to Cape Cod and worked days at a camp in Truro and nights at the Ben & Jerry’s in Eastham. With her sticky fingers she counted the change that people threw in the cup on the counter, because that’s what she lived on. She worked 85 hours a week and got by on four hours of sleep a night.
When she wasn’t sleeping in her car, she’d stay with some of her friends. One friend’s mother, Maureen Mercier, started asking her questions.
“What about college, Katrina?’’
She was smart, but she spent more time working than she did on schoolwork. She was a kid, on her own, just trying to get by. But by living out of her car, where would the colleges send the applications?
Mercier steered her to Russell Sage College, a private women’s school in New York. The place was beautiful, just what you imagined a bucolic college campus would look like, and Katrina felt bad telling Mercier that while it was all very nice, it just wasn’t for her.
But Mercier kept at her. So one day Katrina Walther drove up to Lowell and walked around the city and then the campus at UMass Lowell. It was gritty. It felt like the real world. It felt like her world.
She applied late, so she didn’t get housing. But she still had her car.
And she kept working, because the only one taking care of Katrina was Katrina.
The rowing started as a lark. Another student suggested she go out for the women’s rowing club. Katrina laughed, because she had never been in a scull or a shell and couldn’t tell you the first thing about rowing. But she surprised herself and everybody else when she showed up.
…The company’s website has video clips explaining various ways to restore photos. Fujifilm has also made the information viewable by mobile phone so Tohoku residents who have lost their computers can access it.
Fujifilm’s technical team has much experience cleaning up photos damaged by natural disaster; the company engaged in a similar project after massive flooding in Nagoya in 2000.
But they needed additional research on how to clean photos covered by muddy seawater, a prospect far different than the damage by fresh water encountered in Nagoya.
Itabashi asked the technical team to come up with solutions — with one condition.
"They had to come up with methods that anyone who isn’t familiar with cleaning photos can do without the need of special equipment, because the project was going to be carried out in Tohoku," he said.
To find out how photos are damaged by seawater, the team members asked fishermen in Kanagawa Prefecture, where Fujifilm’s research and development plant is located, to fill buckets with seawater, mix in mud and sand, and soak photos.
Finding the easiest restoration methods wasn’t easy. The team tried more than 60 ways.
"We soaked several photos together in water or placed a photo album in water" to see how it turned out, said Fujifilm spokesman Takao Inahata.
With the new knowledge at hand, Itabashi has been spending almost every weekend in Tohoku, giving advice to volunteers cleaning photos. About 30 Fujifilm employees with the same mission are also taking turns visiting about 20 towns in the region.
"This will likely continue until summer," said Itabashi….
Taylor Swift invested countless hours to prepare for the North American leg of her Speak Now World Tour. And after opening her final tour dress rehearsal in Nashville to the public on Saturday night (May 21), she helped the storm-ravaged Southeastern states invest $750,000 into their own communities.
After the first two songs came off without a hitch, Swift told the audience that during breaks from her previous rehearsals, she watched the news and saw people in the Southeast losing their homes and loved ones to tornadoes.
"I felt like if it was possible to help them in any way, we should do it," she said.
"I do use my football experience — being cut seven times isn’t easy, " Favorite said while tucking into a blackened shrimp quesadilla with green chili sour cream prepared and served by Café Hope participants. "But I never gave up. And that’s the same message I want to send to the youth in this program. I keep it real with them; I tell them, ‘it’s not easy doing what I do, and I know it’s not easy for you growing up here.’ I know this area of New Orleans and how hard it is."