Asian primate self – medicates , whale alphabet, Kiwi rockets, Great Dutch racoon escape

May 22, 2024 Episode 180

Indonesian orangutang self-medicates, updates on whale-talk and the pig kidney transplant, Kiwi rockets and the Great Dutch racoon escape

Episode Transcript


LEELA: This week… Primates self-medicate, whale ABCs, update on pig kidney transplant, Kiwi rockets and the Great Dutch racoon escape. 

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults! I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder – otherwise known as my… mama!

MAMA: Yes, I also go by the name of Lyndee. And this is your one-stop-shop for the most interesting.

LEELA: And important news happening around the world. This week…

An orangutang in Asia is found doing something fascinating with a leaf after he gets wounded on his face. Find out what it is and why it’s so important.

Remember our story on whale-talk? Well, we have an update on efforts to decipher the code.

Plus, an update on the man who got a pig kidney transplant.

Also, way down under their blasting rockets to the sky – find out where and why.

And heard the one about the Great Dutch racoon escape? Well, you will if you stay tuned till the end!

Alright then, let’s dive on into the Newsy Pooloozi. First up, it’s…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: So, if you get a wound, say you scrape your arm badly and as in a bit of blood and pain, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do?

LEELA: Shout, “Mama!” OK, maybe I used to… Now I’ll say, where’s the soap, water and a band-aid.

MAMA: Right, you’d clean the wound and stop it getting infected by covering it with a band-aid or plaster but what would you do if the pain doesn’t go away, like it’s a really bad scrape?

LEELA: Then I guess I’d say, “where’s the doctor?!”

MAMA: Who’s probably gonna prescribe you some medicine, right?

LEELA: Exactly.

MAMA: Because that’s what we do today. But way back in time, when we were just cave creatures, we self-medicated. As in, we knew through trial and error and then passed down from generation to generation, which plants or foods have healing properties.

LEELA: Yeah, like onions are anti-bacterial. So, they keep the food from spoiling, by stopping the microorganisms that can give us an upset stomach.

MAMA: Exactly. How cool is that?

LEELA: No, I hate onions, yuck!

MAMA: Pity. And sometimes a medicinal herb or leaf or bark that might be good for you might taste awful to you or be really hard to chew, so you might just eat it quickly or take part of it and spit out the rest, right?

LEELA: I guess so.

MAMA: Well, humans have evolved with knowledge of these kinds of things, over hundreds of hundreds and thousands and thousands of years to know what was best. Well, guess what? Our creature cousins, as in primates, are on the evolution journey too.

LEELA: Well, I’m not surprised! We’ve always known our cousins are very smart.

MAMA: That’s right. A paper published in the journal Scientific Reports describes the case study of an orangutan who treated and healed his own wound.

LEELA: Wait, what?

MAMA: A male, Sumatran orangutan living in Indonesia, which is where?

LEELA: Oh, just east of us here in India Indonesia is an archipelago, as in a group of islands between India and Australia.

MAMA: That’s right so this an orangutan, who’s called Rakus, was out in the wild doing his thing when he injured on his face. So, guess what he did?

LEELA: Shouted for his mother?

MAMA: Well, he might have done that too, but since she wasn’t around, he found a woody vine called Akar Kuning, ripped off some leaves, put it in his mouth, chewed it up and applied the juice of the leaves to his face.

LEELA: On the wound?

MAMA: Yep. And a few days later, guess what happened next?

LEELA: Oh, please don’t say the wound got infected and he died!

MAMA: No, ma’am. Within five days, the wound closed.

LEELA: As in healed.

MAMA: Yep.


MAMA: See, the plant – Akar Kuning – has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which is why it’s good for healing.

LEELA: And Rakus knew that.

MAMA: Yep. Now, to be clear, self-medicating animals is not really new. Zoologists

LEELA: As in scientists who study animals.

MAMA: Yes, they’ve long seen self-medicating behavior in the animal kingdom from beast and still well obviously humans

LEELA: Then why is this such a big deal?

MAMA: Because, until now, it’s hardly ever been properly documented. This is the first detailed observation of an animal taking a plant, chewing it up and putting it on a wound to heal himself.

LEELA: Huh. I guess it’ll also inspire other scientists to look out for this.

MAMA: Right, to observe such behavior and document it more in detail.

LEELA: Cool.

MAMA: But that’s not the only cool thing about this story. You see, male orangutans move around when they become adults. They leave their family and go, and they try to find a new group of orangutans to live with. So, imagine if Rakus brought this knowledge from his family to another group of orangutans…

LEELA: Oh, another leap on the evolutionary latter. The spread of information and knowledge!

MAMA: You got it.

LEELA: So basically, in a few hundred years, we could be seeing orangutan clinics opening up in Indonesia!

MAMA: Ok… that might be a little bit of a stretch, but you’ve got the right idea.

[SOURCE: https://loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=24-P13-00020&segmentID=4


MAMA: Now today we have not one but TWO top-ups

TOP-UP TIME STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Go on give me a top up, please? It’s top-up time. Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Now? Yeah, now. It’s top-up time.”

MAMA: These are top ups on two stories we recently did. The first is about a man who received a kidney transplant, using an organ from a pig a genetically modified pig’s kidney from Episode 177.

LEELA: Hmmm…. Am I right to assume this top-up could be bad news?

MAMA: Yes, unfortunately, you’re right. 62-year-old Rick Slayman from Massachusetts in the U.S. has passed away, roughly six weeks after the procedure.

LEELA: Did he die because the pig kidney didn’t work?

MAMA: Doctors aren´t sure. With xenotransplants that means implanting organs from one species to another there is always a risk. In order to get one in the U.S. patients must have a serious or immediate life-threatening disease or condition.

LEELA: So, it’s used as a last resort.

MAMA: Exactly. When Slayman got the transplant, there were no other options. Human kidneys are in high demand, but supply is low. In fact, according to the Associated Press, there are more than 100,000 people in the U.S. who need organs, most of them kidneys. Sadly, thousands die every year because there aren’t enough donations.

LEELA: Man. That’s tough… But I guess with the xenotransplant, Mr. Slayman was able to have a little bit more time with his family?

MAMA: That’s exactly what they said. He was able to enjoy his family and friends without undergoing the exhausting medical treatment for his kidney that he’d been doing for years. In fact, all of the families of patients who’ve undergone a xenotransplant – and there have been a handful! – have said they appreciate the chance to spend some quality time with their loved ones.

LEELA: Well, that’s something then. OK, then, what’s the second top-up? A little less grim, I hope.

MAMA: Yes, ma’am. And this is just from last episode, in fact, about our friend Twain, the humpback whale who started a “conversation” with researchers recently off the coast of Alaska in the U.S.

New version of Scrabble, Indian teenage chess champ, whales “talk,” freaky fossils, stowaway cat.

LEELA: Oh, no way – do we know what she was saying?!

MAMA: Not exactly, but we ARE closer.  A group of marine biologists have recently published a study about the alphabet for whales.

LEELA: Hold on a sec. As in like a “whaley sounding ABC’s”?

MAMA: Yes, kind of! A few years ago, these scientists from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada hooked up with a group of computer scientists to analyze the click sounds that sperm whales make.

LEELA: Do they sound the same as humpback whales?


MAMA: Ah ha! No, they don’t! Humpback whales make eeire sounding “songs” …

LEELA: I’m thinking like when Dory in Finding Nemo was trying to “speak whale”!

MAMA: Yeah. I remember that too cute! But sperm whales, however, don’t make those sounds. They make clicking and pulsing noises, that expert says sound Kinda like an old creaky door!


LEELA: So, scientists have created a clicking alphabet for sperm whales!? That’s pretty cool.

MAMA: I know, right? And maybe one day they’ll be able to tell if whales are combining sequences of clicks to create a language to communicate with each other.

LEELA: And of course, when that happens, we’ll be right back with another TOP-UP!

[SOURCE: https://apnews.com/article/pig-kidney-transplant-recipient-dies-d6cf10ac76a4bcde1b3021f45b9695b4


WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”

MAMA: In a historical move, Ireland and Norway say they’ll officially recognise Palestine as a nation. Spain is expected to follow. It’s hoped this will push a two-state or two nation solution to the Israeli-Palestinian war. But Israel warns the move will “fuel extremism and instability” and tells its ambassadors to Norway and Ireland to get back home.

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash after it went through bad weather. Raisi was once seen as a likely successor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, leaving the Islamic Republic with an uncertain future.

North India is on a “red alert” for a severe heatwave. The Met office issued a warning across several states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, Haryana and the capital region, New Delhi with temperatures already soaring beyond 113 degrees Fahrenheit 45 degrees Celsius and expected to rise. It’s hot here, y’all!

And, finally, nine sporting stars become Barbies. You heard that right. As part of Barbie’s 65th anniversary, a new set of dolls are being released, including tennis icon Venus Williams of course and Austrian footballer Mary Fowler, who plays for Manchester City.

[SOURCE: https://apnews.com/article/norway-palestinian-state-ddfd774a23d39f77f5977b9c89c43dbc




LEELA: Well, thank you so much for that – wait for it… that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.

MAMA: Anytime, Leela. I do it so can I hear that.

SPACE NEWS STING – MAMA/LEELA: “Now let’s have the latest… space news!”

MAMA: So as the space race between nations slowly chugs along…

LEELA: Yes, it’s more of a super long marathon than a sprint, it’s gotta be said.

MAMA: That’s true.

LEELA: And I guess that’s because space exploration is soooooooo expensive.

MAMA: Right. Well, that’s why more and more private companies

LEELA: Like Space X.

MAMA: Yep, are getting in on the action. Because they don’t have to get governments to sign off on expenditures, as in expenses.

LEELA: So, if they want to invest a ton of money on a rocket, they can.

MAMA: Yep, and also… they reckon there’s money to be made too. I mean a lot of countries and companies want to send satellites up into the air.

LEELA: Never mind send space tourists.

MAMA: Exactly. So… private companies are getting into the game. One such company is offering the world’s first and only private orbital launch site way down under in New Zealand.

LEELA: And in our recent Newsy Pooloozi expansion, we’ve got a new team of reporters from New Zealand, do we not?

MAMA: We do indeed. And with this first NZ story, let’s hand it over to James from Wellington.

JAMES: Thanks Guys! Ok, imagine going for a walk along a beach, feeling the sand between your toes and gentle wind against your skin, only to look up and see a rocket soaring into the sky!

It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie, right?

But really, it’s Rocket Lab, a company that launches satellites into the sky right here at Mahia, New Zealand.

The New Zealand company, which is now headquartered in California, is the only private orbital launch site in the world.

Rocket Lab chose Mahia because there’s very little marine or air traffic, never mind a wide range of launch angles.

That makes it easier for small satellites to get to space.

About 50 small satellites in fact.

Some for NASA even.

As you probably know a satellite is anything that orbits or circles around a bigger object.

They’re typically used for communication, weather forecasting or, of course, helping us with navigation.

Some of Rocket Lab’s satellites even help research space junk for future clean up missions!

And – get this! – its Photon spacecraft has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars!

And all from Mahia’s serene beaches, inspiring us to dream big and reach for the stars!

In Wellington New Zealand, this is James reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!!

LEELA: Thanks a lot for that report, James. It’s actually very interesting and welcome aboard the Newsy Pooloozi news ship!

[SOURCE: https://www.britannica.com/explore/space/space-business/



MAMA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA:  Today’s oddball is about a group of bandits who escaped from a facility in the Netherlands.

MAMA: Oh… I can just picture the headline: “A group of masked miscreants roam the streets!” You know Miscreants being that old fashioned word for a baddie, of course.

LEELA: Well, “masked,” for sure. But also, furry. Not sure, really, how bad they are though…

MAMA: Oh… tell me more.

LEELA: Well, in fact, we’re going straight to Netherlands for more on this one from our correspondent in Amsterdam, Tofunmi Fagade.

TOFUNMI: Thanks, Leela.

Did you know that there has been a great escape?

By raccoons? Well now you do.

Recently 11 out of twelve raccoons living happily at the Aqua Zoo in Leeuwarden have escaped out of their new enclosure thanks to a loose fence!

They could be in danger out there!

Luckily six of the cheeky escapees have been recaptured.

They have been trying to lure the raccoons back with sweet treats and eggs since the raccoons love those.

One of the raccoons was captured immediately thanks to its love of marshmallow and cherry syrup.

Can you blame the racoon? I mean marshmallows are amazing, you can’t deny.

The raccoons are unable to reproduce so no baby raccoons.

Hopefully we are able to get those raccoons back!

I’m Tofunmi Fagade in Amsterdam reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.

LEELA: Thanks, Tofunmi. Let us know if they come back! I sure hope so.

MAMA: Yeah, and so do the authorities. You see, racoons are not native to the Netherlands and that means they

LEELA: Change the balance of the ecosystem, right?

MAMA: Yep, and in this case, we’re talking about eating other animals like small birds that are protected in the Netherlands. So, raccoons are officially NOT ALLOWED to roam around in the wild, like they do in parts of North America.

LEELA: Yeah, that’s good for the raccoons. I mean, for sure, they won’t find marshmallows covered in cherry syrup out in nature!

MAMA: You got that right!

[SOURCE: https://www.dutchnews.nl/2024/04/five-raccoons-still-at-large-after-leeuwarden-zoo-escape/]



FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – An orangutan in Indonesia is documented for the first time ever treating his wound with a medicinal plant, called Akar Kuning. Why is this good for healing?

It antimicrobial and antibacterial properties

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Many plants and even foods, like onions, can keep other food from spoiling, by stopping the microorganisms that can give us an upset stomach. What’s that quality called?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Rocket Lab company is the only private orbital launch site in the world, shooting some 50 satellites into the air already. What is a satellite exactly?

Anything that orbits or circles around a bigger object.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – The US man who received a genetically modified pig transplant has, sadly, passed away six weeks after the procedure. What is the fancy word for transplants of organs from one species to another?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Authorities in the Netherlands are on the hunt for racoons that escaped from a zoo. Why is this a problem?

Because they are not native to the area and are changing the ecosystem

Hey, don’t forget, if you want to test yourself for perhaps your class that you might have who’s listening to this later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time! I love that bit.

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!

MAMA: But first… a shout-out to Donovan McDonough who wrote to us asking

LEELA: “Can you do a special episode with Snoop and Sniffy please?”

MAMA: Upon investigation – Snoop and Sniffy seems to be another podcast. So… maybe we can team up with them on something. Maybe they’re part of the wonderful Kids Listen community of audio content creators for kids. And we can meet them there.

LEELA: That’s not all…

MAMA: We also received an awesome message from a homeschooling mom, Jennifer, who says she and near 9-year-old son Matthias who wrote “love your podcast and are very grateful for the work you do and the way in which you present news to kids!”

LEELA: Why thank you VERY much for making our day both of you!!

MAMA: Seriously


 LEELA: If you enjoyed this dip in the coolest pool of news and information then HIT that subscribe button on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review! Go on – we’ll read it out loud if you do…

And don’t forget to check out our website – that’s newsypooloozi.com – p-o-o-l  o-o-z-i.com

Alrighty then, we will see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!