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What We Love This Week: Humans And Alligators Living Together

What Syria looked like before Islamic extremism, America’s best road trips, the Civil War in color, when humans and alligators lived together in Los Angeles, wand National Geographic’s most stunning nature photography.

Child Standing Near Alligators

Image Source: Smithsonian

When Humans And Alligators Lived Together In Los Angeles

Once upon a time, humans and alligators co-existed right in the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles. Men, women, infants, and dogs all joined in. Toddlers sat unattended with dozens of young alligators surrounding them. Ladies lunched right in the water with alligators relaxing beside them. Of course, none of this would be possible without the bizarre, fearless efforts of “Alligator Joe” Campbell and Francis Earnest. Their farm featured trained alligators who peacefully co-existed with humans–and even performed them (by going down slides and the like). Visit the farm at Smithsonian.

People Eating Near Alligators

Image Source: Smithsonian

Woman Holding Alligator

Image Source: Smithsonian

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PHOTOS: This Is What Spain’s “Versailles” Looks Like In Fall

After visiting Spain for the commemoration of the nation’s 60-year membership with the United Nations on October 30th, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon took a private tour of the city of Segovia. Located in central Spain, the small, walled city makes for a wonderful trip for history lovers, with its medieval castles and the best-preserved Roman aqueduct in the world. One of its villages, La Granja de San Ildefonso, is home to a fantastic Royal Palace that was used as the king’s summer residence for 200 years. The leaves of the sprawling royal gardens are now changing, and the Secretary General and his wife did not want to miss it. After visiting ourselves, we can see why:

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Fall Granja Palace View

A view of the palace from the entry. King Felipe V developed the grounds toward the beginning of the 18th century, modeling them after Versailles, the French palace which Felipe's great-grandfather, Louis XIV, had built.

Fall Granja Street View

Another of the avenues in the Royal Gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso. The grounds are only 50 miles from Madrid and not even 7 miles from the city of Segovia.

Fall Granja Fountain Water

In front of the Royal Palace, on top of a marble fountain called The Fall, rests the Fountain of the Three Graces. It is possibly the most photogenic view of the mansion.

Fall Granja Entrance Palace

Right at the entrance of the Royal Palace, one can find the organized beauty of the Royal Gardens, which are modeled after Versailles in Paris.

Fall Granja Statue Deer

A sculpture of a hunter and deer.

Fall Granja Fame Fountain

All 21 fountains in the La Granja gardens tell mythological stories. In this one, called "The Fame" (La Fama), Pegasus is carrying Fame while she plays a trumpet. The winged horse is stepping on four soldiers, which represent envy, pettiness, malice and ignorance. When functioning, the water stream reaches 137 feet.

Fall Granja Closer View

A view of the palace from behind an imitation bronze lion sculpture.

Fall Granja Sea Lake

Visitors can find a fishing pond that provides water to some of the fountains.

Fall Granja Statue Palace

The late days of October and the month of November are perhaps the most beautiful time of the year to visit this old farm. The grounds used to belong to a group of monks, but transferred ownership when Felipe purchased the grounds in 1719.

Fall Granja Statue Cocodrile

Across the 360-acre property visitors can find mythological representations, not only on fountains, but also on the dozens of sculptures scattered throughout the grounds.

Fall Granja Fountain Leaves

Another view of one of the grounds' 21 fountains.

Fall Granja Lookout Mountains

La Granja de San Ildefonso is located at the foot of the mountains that split the region of Madrid and the region of Castilla y León.

Fall Granja Statue Soldier

A statue of a soldier.

Fall Granja Frogs Fountain

This fountain tells the story of Latona, the mother of Roman goddess Diana. Latona was thirsty and asked some farmers to give her water. Because they refused her mother's request, Diana converted them into frogs.

Fall Granja Statue Greek

A view of a Greek statue at La Granja.

Fall Granja Neptune Fountain

The Neptune Fountain is part of a ‘horse ride’ between three of the fountains, whose plumbing system works together for dramatic waterwork displays in the summer.

Fall Granja Neptune Perspective

Another view of the fountains.

Fall Granja Flowers Jar

A large urn in the La Granja grounds.

Fall Granja Detail Statue

Another statue in the La Granja grounds.

Fall Granja Vase Coat

The Royal Gardens of La Granja tell us the history of the country. This vase portrays the ‘Fleur de Lis’ (the French symbol, the Lily Flower) and the Spanish old coat d’arms.

Fall Granja Eight Crossroad

Detail of “The Fountains of the Eight Streets,” a crossroad of eight gardened avenues, with eight different fountains that represent eight different Greek gods. In the center, a statue represents the god Mercury.

Fall Granja Diana Baths

One of the most beautiful fountains is Los Baños de Diana (Diana’s Baths). It is also the biggest fountain and the last to be built. In it, the haunting goddess, Diana, is taking a bath when she is accidentally discovered by a shepherd, Acteon.

In the myth, Acteon becomes a deer by Diana’s wishes and is eaten by his own dogs.

Fall Granja Diana Detail

Detail of Diana’s Baths. The fountains are only turned on during the summer to commemorate national and regional festivities. Image Source: undefined

Fall Granja Dragons Fountain

A detail of one of the fountains, called “Of the Dragons Below.” The fountains in La Granja are made of lead, with a layer of imitation bronze paint.

Fall Granja Fountain Lake

A view of the La Granja pond.

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All images come courtesy of Teresa Cantero. Use by permission. All rights reserved.

Behind The Scenes At New York’s Scariest Haunted House

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a haunted house before the lights go down? Scaring people for a living certainly seems like a strange job, and we wanted to investigate. ATI visited New York’s famous Blood Manor, a haunted attraction so scary that its employees offer special T-shirts to patrons who pee their pants during the visit. While getting to know the for-hire fear mongerers, we discovered that, well, these guys are actually quite normal:

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Blood Manor Texting

All that makeup can be rough on your face. Lillian, a Haunted House worker said that "by the end of [last] season, my face looked like it was growing its own red pustule mountains," thanks to the daily application of zombie makeup.

Blood Manor Behind The Scenes Makeup

According to Alex, a haunted house worker, most of the people who work at these places take their jobs very seriously: "We refer to ourselves as haunters, part of the haunt community. Some of us are gore freaks, others are just dark, and at least in the context of our full-contact haunt, most of us [are] trained actors."

Blood Manor Coffee Break

Actors take a quick coffee break before the night's show. Halloween weekend is the busiest time for haunted attractions like Blood Manor, but many operate year round.

Blood Manor Waiting

Most of the performers at Blood Manor have been doing this for years. Maybe that's why this actor looks so calm and composed before yet another night of terrifying the masses.

Blood Manor Behind The Scenes

Blood Manor has special effects make up artists on staff to help the actors get into costume and into character.

Blood Manor Important Text

An actor waits to get airbrush makeup applied and reacts to what seems to be a scary text message.

Blood Manor Behind The Scenes Feature

Haunted houses and attractions are notoriously dangerous work environments, as actors are regularly subjected to physical harm at the hands of frightened patrons. After a quick walk around the Blood Manor dressing room, we understood why.

Blood Manor Facial Prosthetics

Featured is one of the makeup artists responsible for literally scaring the shit out of people. She obviously does a good job, as Blood Manor gives a free t-shirt to every patron who pees his/her pants.

Blood Manor Behind The Scenes Phone

Even zombies need to say hi to Mom every once in a while.

Blood Manor Makeup

Some of the actors are also talented makeup artists, and can turn themselves into monsters.

Blood Manor Brains

Halloween is one of the busiest times of the year for special effects make up artists, and, before the rise of shows like The Walking Dead was the only time most artists got the chance to turn heads into brains on a regular basis.

Blood Manor Blow Drier

Have you ever wondered about those eerie noises you hear inside of a haunted house? Sometimes they're just the sounds of a rodent infestation. Haunted houses are notoriously hospitable homes for them because part of what makes a haunted attraction feel authentic is a naturally decrepit atmosphere.

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For all things haunted, abandoned, and scary, check out more from ATI like The History of Witches and Why We’re So Obsessed With Zombies.

Photo Of The Day: An Animal Rescue Activist Saves An Orangutan From Deforestation In Indonesia

Orangutan populations are quickly diminishing in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This endangered species’ habitats on tropical islands like Borneo and Sumatra are threatened by commercial logging, mining, and deforestation for pulp and paper. Furthermore, according to Michelle Desilets, executive director of the Orangutan Land Trust, “the conversion of forest for oil palm is the single greatest threat to [their] survival in the wild.”

Palm oil–which is found in cookies, soap, doughnuts, and even cosmetics like lipstick–is in incredibly high demand as the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, igniting many palm oil companies to exploit areas where the oil is found at any cost. Indonesia and Malaysia are not only home to the large red apes, but they account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. The global demand for the oil has resulted in massive forest destruction throughout the two countries, especially in Indonesia where palm oil is the country’s third largest export and the most valuable agricultural product.

Many palm oil plantations face criticism from environmentalists who work endlessly to increase public pressure on the palm oil industry. Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, and his team rescue orangutans displaced by palm oil plantations, or orphaned orangutans whose families were killed so they could be illegally kept as pets by humans. Singleton’s program releases most of the apes back into the wild in much safer forests.

Adi Irawan of International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR)–another organization concerned with saving orangutans–explains, “There are more orangutans in the tiny remaining patches of forest in the plantation, along with other protected species such as proboscis monkeys. All of the animals on the plantation are threatened. The company must stop clearing the forest immediately.”

With fewer than 7,000 orangutans believed to be living in the Sumatran wilds, environmentalists hasten their pace in rescuing the endangered apes.

“The definition of a refugee is someone whose homeland is no longer available to them, and that’s exactly the case with these orangutans,” says Singleton.”These are the survivors of this annihilation of the forest, and everything that lives in it.”

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