This Week in Travel: Gone to the animals

#1 Beluga whale “belonging” to Russia found in Norway

(Joergen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Direcorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit via AP)

Where: Off the coast of Norway

What: Norwegian fishermen encountered a beluga whale wearing a harness with “Equipment St. Petersburg” written across the strap. The tame whale came swimming up to the fishermen in search of food. There are questions now of whether the whale will be able to survive in the wild.

The discovery has also prompted concerns that the whale escaped from a Russian military facility. Russia has denied having a whale program, but in 2016 the Russian Defence Ministry did publish a tender to purchase five dolphins for training. There was no word on what the dolphins were meant to be doing, just that they needed good teeth.

Read also: 19 underwater photos that will terrify you or make you want to go freediving

#2 13% of homes in Japan are abandoned

Photo by Fabrice Villard on Unsplash

Where: The Japanese countryside

What: As Japan’s population shrinks (the birth rate is now the lowest it’s ever been in recorded history), the number of its abandoned homes increases. According to government statistics, last year, Japan’s number of abandoned homes reached a record high of 8.5 million – an increase of 260,000 from 2013. That’s over 13% of Japan’s total housing.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to live in Japan, now might be the time to buy a place. If you’re curious – Yamanashi and Wakayama prefectures are the hardest hit with over 20% of homes in the area left empty.

#3 Want to cuddle a micro pig?

Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

Where: Near Meguro Station in Tokyo

What: Japan has all sorts of animal cafes – cats, rabbits, owls, reptiles, hedgehogs – and now there is one dedicated to micro pigs! A crowdfunding campaign raised USD 42,380 for the creation of Mipig Café. The café’s owner is hoping that it will help people become more familiar with micropigs, meaning they see them as beloved family members rather than as livestock.

If you’re thinking of going and maybe adopting one of the adorable piglets (yes, some of them are available for adoption), remember that the ones in the café are babies and will grow to be 40kgs. They’re not animals to be taken home on a whim.

Read also: A hedgehog bar opens today in Tokyo

#4 The race to the bottom is on for many airlines

Image from Etihad

Where: Etihad Airlines Economy Class

What: Last month, Delta announced that they’ll be reducing seat recline by two inches to “reduce in-air conflict” between passengers. Now, Etihad Airlines has announced that they’ll be removing seatback screens in economy class onboard their Airbus A320 fleet. Instead, passengers will have to download an app onto their devices prior to departure to be able to enjoy any in-flight entertainment. Leaving people stuck buying/bringing their own tablets or squinting at their phones throughout the flight.

We’re afraid of what will go next…

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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