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Howlin’ cute: Columbus Zoo welcomes newborn wolf pups

Mike Thomas

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced the May 6 births of four Mexican gray wolf pups—the first born at the Zoo in 14 years. According to a press release issued by the zoo, the pups’ births mark a significant achievement for the future of the Mexican wolf, which is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America.

The pups sexes of the pups are currently unknown (care to get between a wolf mother and her newborns for a check? Us either). This was the first-ever litter for mother, Winter, and father, Storm.

Both of the wolf-parents are three years old, and arrived at the Columbus Zoo earlier this year. Winter came to the Columbus Zoo on Dec. 17, 2018 from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, and Storm arrived on Dec. 11, 2018 from the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri. The two were paired at Columbus Zoo through a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wolf Recovery Plan, which works to help reintroduce wolves to the southwestern United States.

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Mama and babies are being monitored by zoo staff via a closed-circuit camera. The team at the zoo reports that Winter, “has provided excellent care to the pups, whose eyes have recently opened, while Storm occasionally peeks in on them during breaks from patrolling the habitat.”

“We are extremely proud to participate in this collaborative program working to protect the future of the this important species that nearly went extinct in the 1970s. The birth of these pups is to be celebrated as this achievement offers additional hope for the Mexican gray wolf,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf.

The program has already made some strides in improving the endangered wolf populations, and the Mexican gray wolf population is finally experiencing a small rebirth since human intervention programs started in the late 1990s.

Although the pups are not currently visible to guests, they may begin venturing out of the den with their mother soon. For more information and updates, be sure to follow the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit the Zoo’s website.

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Dear I-670 drivers, your lives are about to change

614now

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Notice anything different on your I-670 and/or I-270 commute this week? Could be the nine 600-square-foot, 110,000-pound digital signs towering over the freeway.

When operational this fall, these signs will display information about the first ever Ohio SmartLane.

The I-670 “SmartLane” is the left shoulder that will be opened when traffic slows to a crawl. It will begin just east of I-71 in downtown Columbus and extend to I-270 on the East Side.

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The SmartLane will be closed most of the time, indicated by a red X. But when traffic dips below 50 mph, The Dispatch reports traffic monitors will send signals to the overhead signs to open the SmartLane.

A green arrow will appear along with a speed limit for SmartLane drivers to abide by (slower speeds keep traffic moving during congestion). A yellow indicator will appear when the lane is about to close.

ODOT will be installing more than 30 traffic cameras to monitor the lane for any obstructions, reports The Dispatch. The right shoulder of I-670 will be free for disabled vehicles to use.

The $61 million project is expected to be open in October. Visit ODOT.com for more information on the project and the new traffic patterns.

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Review: “Not” Chicken at HCT is poised for a takeover

Mitch Hooper

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Hail seitan!

No, this isn’t a religious cry—it’s a plant-based one. And the newest addition to the ever popular Hot Chicken Takeover will soon have everyone from carnivores to vegans saying the same thing.

Hot Chicken Takeover is a solidified Columbus staple. The lines for lunch at the North Market prove that, and expanding to Clintonville as well as Easton Town Center further show that the hype for HCT is real. And as a vegetarian, my jealousy was at an all time high. But now I can officially confirm: Hot Chicken Takeover is certified good. Look out Impossible Burger, you’ve got some competition.

The menu option at HCT is created out of the aforementioned seitan. Basically, as Wikipedia so eloquently describes it, it is: “Wheat gluten is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.” I know what you’re thinking: yummy!

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But before you stick up your nose, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill tofu knock-off. Compared to tofu which can become squishy and sponge-like, seitan holds it’s consistency where it stays more firm similarly to what happens to fried chicken. And this holds true at Hot Chicken Takeover. Whether you have yours served on a sandwich or atop two slices of white bread, the seitan never loses it’s texture and consistency. It goes to show that nine months of hard work pays off (shout out to Craig Morin!).

Speaking of texture and consistency, the exterior of the seitan brings all the flavor and heat you’d imagine from the regular menu options. It’s crispy and soaks up that house-made ranch dressing, plus little fried bits fall off throughout the eating process. It’s the simple things like crispy and spicy bits of the “skin” that give you the full experience.

Eating this “Not” Chicken Takeover really reminded me of my first experience of trying the Impossible Burger. As a vegetarian, you almost feel guilty eating something that resembles what it’s trying to replicate so well. Though the Impossible Burger takes the crown for appearance (it freakin’ bleeds, ya’ll), HCT is a close rival. And the seitan at HCT isn’t nearly as a flavor diva like the Impossible Burger. The flavor is similar to chicken, but it also allows the other flavors to shine like the sauce. Meanwhile, the Impossible Burger sometimes feels like it’s just trying too hard. Chill out, ya know?

It’s a big ask for meat-eaters to ditch the delicious chicken at HCT for a meal, but it’s worth it. As I brought back leftovers to my predominately carnivorous office, the only complaint they had was they wanted more. As for my vegan and vegetarian friends, save some house made ranch for me.

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Former attorney of Casey Anthony, Aaron Hernandez could represent Mt. Carmel doc

Mike Thomas

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The attorney who previously represented Casey Anthony and former NFL player/convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez could now take up the case of embattled former Mt. Carmel doctor William Husel.

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Attorney Jose Baez has filed a motion to represent Husel, who faces 25 counts of murder after allegedly providing deadly doses of the drug fentanyl to patients under his care.

Husel was fired by Mount Carmel earlier this year following an internal investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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