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The week's good news: January 4, 2017

Catherine Garcia
Carolyn Kelly/St. Louis Zoo via AP
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1.

Cheetah at St. Louis Zoo gives birth to record 8 cubs

The population of the St. Louis Zoo increased by eight on Nov. 26, when a cheetah named Bingwa gave birth to three male and five female cubs. The zoo announced the birth on Wednesday. The average litter size for a cheetah is three to four cubs, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums told The Associated Press this is the first time it has ever documented a cheetah giving birth and rearing her own litter of eight inside a zoo. Bingwa, whose name means "champion" in Swahili, and her cubs are healthy and will stay out of the public eye for the next several months. "She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing, and caring for them attentively," said Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the zoo.

2.

This 101-year-old great-grandmother keeps breaking running records

She may be 101, but champion runner Man Kaur refuses to slow down. This Indian centenarian and great-grandmother only started in 2009, when her son, Gurdev Singh, suggested she take up track and field. She enjoyed running and Singh, 79, became her coach. Seeing how well she was doing, Singh signed her up for meets, and Kaur has since won 17 gold medals; in 2017, she won the gold for her 81-second 100-meter dash at the Americans Master Games, and has broken several records in her age group. She's training for September's Asia Pacific Masters Games, but isn't in it for the cash — in fact, she doesn't receive any prize money, and must pay to enter the competitions. "It is for our health and at this age, we are winning medals, so people also get inspired," Singh told NPR.

3.

Mountain lion burned in California wildfire healing thanks to bandages made of fish skin

A young mountain lion whose paws were badly burned by a wildfire last month is making remarkable progress, all thanks to a tilapia. The kitten, estimated to be about five months old, was found in Santa Paula, California, late last month, the pads of his paws burned in the devastating Thomas Fire. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife brought the animal to Dr. Jamie Peyton of the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, who made bandages out of sterilized tilapia skin to cover the burns. Doctors have used this technique on human burn victims before, and the fish skin not only protects the mountain lion's sensitive paws, but also provides collagen to speed up the healing process. The mountain lion has responded well to treatment, but because he was separated from his mother at such a young age, the kitten will have to remain in captivity.

4.

'Angels' help homeless man reconnect with sister thousands of miles away

Thanks to the generosity of strangers, a brother and sister are reunited after several years apart. Stephanie Rice and Jody Revak would see Alan Duffany, 52, during their daily commutes in West Sacramento, California, and would give the homeless man money. At Christmas they decided to give him a bigger gift: new clothes and a bus ticket to Tennessee, where his sister, Rose Cooper, lives. "The two ladies that helped me — they are my angels," Duffany told KCRA. Cooper said she spent the last two years trying to track Duffany down, and "didn't think I was going to see my little brother again." Duffany has moved in with Cooper and is now trying to find work, something that Revak was thrilled to hear. "I just wish that everybody would be kind to one another," she said. "It just takes one helping hand to another."

5.

Massachusetts town names 92-year-old who was mugged Queen for a Day

Doris Prendiville loves a party, even if it's for a "wacky" reason. The 92-year-old was mugged last month while walking home from a CVS in Quincy, Massachusetts, which left her with a fractured sternum. The town rallied around Prendiville, and to celebrate her recovery, decided to make her Queen for a Day on Dec. 27. "We're just trying to show that Quincy has more kindness than what she endured," salon owner Ron Affsa told The Boston Globe. "And she knows that, she's from here." Prendiville received a haircut, and a personal driver, assisted by a police escort, drove her to a steak house dinner. Nearly 100 people greeted Prendiville, who laughed the attention off. "People are really hungry for a party," she said. It was "so wacky for an ordinary person," but it's a "fun wacky. If I'm necessary to make a party, then I'm all set."

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