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Otters, Christmas trees & animal photos: Here are 3 things making us smile this holiday weekend

Editor's Note: This is a roundup of this week's moments of joy from WBUR's seasonal newsletter, The Pick Me Up. If you want a little bit of good news to help you get through the week and spread cheer this holiday season, sign up here. 

From TK to TK, here are the moments bringing us joy this week.

1. Animal photos.

But not just any animal photos.

Every year, the London Natural History Museum gives out a "People's Choice Award" as part of their Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. And this year's finalists feature images of the ever-elusive snow leopard, crested guineafowl that (in my opinion) look a lot like Elvis and two red foxes caught in the sweetest form of hello.

These 25 rare and intimate moments were whittled down from over 39,000 entries. By selecting the most poignant, the museum hopes they will inspire people to protect our planet.

If you want to weigh in, you can cast your vote online between now and Feb. 2.

The People's Choice Award is also just one category. The museum actually has an expert panel select 100 photos for its exhibition. So if you want more nature in your life, go and check those out, too!

2. Otters.

If you're anything like me, you know from experience that one of the greatest gifts to the internet (and to earth) is the majestic, yet adorable river otter. For the uninitiated, these belly-up swimmers need only yawn, hold paws, or just go about their day scrubbing their little faces to make you smile.

I imagine the folks over at Oregon Zoo are well aware of the irresistible charms of their furry residents — and they prepared a delightful year-end recap of otter fodder that just plain delivers.

Closer to home, you can visit real, live North American river otters at Stone Zoo year-round, or check out their exhibit's live cam. Whether in-person or virtually, let these playful pups help you close out 2022.

3. How a Somerville "shrub" found a home for the holidays.

For years, Somerville resident Josh Rosenstock had let the small tree growing in his backyard be. But this year, as The Boston Globe reported, what began as a small evergreen sapling reached a whopping 8 feet in height. It was time to get rid of it so Rosentock could get to his compost bin.

Rather than let it go to waste, he put up a post on Facebook: Anyone willing to cut it down could have it for free. And there was a bite — from a group of Tufts undergrads.

One of the students likened it to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and "just fell in love with it." That's how three of seven housemates ended up in Rosenstock's backyard, using Rosenstock's saw to chop down the evergreen. And that's how it ended up in the guys' living room, now adorned with beer cans and, as they say, it's “super rad.”


Vanessa Ochavillo Twitter Associate Producer
Vanessa Ochavillo is an associate producer for WBUR focused on digital news.


Aimee Moon Twitter Newsroom Fellow
Aimee Moon was a newsroom fellow at WBUR.



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