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Visitors learn about more of a Native American perspective of the desert at Saguaro National Park West

Top Photo: Visitors learn about more of a Native American perspective of the desert at Saguaro National Park West.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended after 35 days. The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22 and lasted until Jan. 25, when President Donald Trump signed a bill to temporarily fund the government through Feb. 15. 

“My fellow Americans, I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and re-open the federal government,” Trump announced in a Rose Garden ceremony. 

About 800,000 federal workers were affected by the partial shutdown, which happened when the president and congress could not agree on a bill to fund the government. Some workers were FURLOUGHED, while others in essential jobs—such as air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration workers—continued to work during the shutdown but did not get paid. Those workers should receive back pay now that the government is operating again. 

In the days before the shutdown ended, airports on the east coast experienced major delays due to a shortage of staff at security checkpoints. TSA union representatives reported that workers were calling in sick or even quitting, creating a security risk for travelers.

Trump is asking for $5.7 billion to build a wall or physical barrier on the southern border. Democrats in the House of Representatives have said that they will not agree to fund a border wall. 

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers AFFORDED to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” says Trump.

Two Senators who do not want to see another shutdown happen, Republican Rob Portman from Ohio and Democrat Mark Warner from Virginia, have introduced bills that would ban future government shutdowns.

Festival of Books Offers Fun for Everyone!

Can you imagine what it would be like to spot an animal that hasn’t been seen in nearly 100 years?

Javelina art

A tourist and amateur botanist from England may have done just that when he photographed what scientists believe is a rare tree kangaroo that hasn’t been seen since 1928.

The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo was assumed to be extinct until Michael Smith photographed a creature high in the trees of the Wondiwoi Mountains in Indonesia last summer. Smith and his group traveled to an elevation of more than 5,000 feet in dense forest when they started seeing signs of a tree kangaroo: scratch marks on tree trunks and dung.

Tree kangaroos are tropical marsupials and close relatives to wallabies and ground-dwelling kangaroos. They weigh up to 35 pounds and have muscular forearms to pull themselves up tree trunks. They remain surprisingly well hidden in tree canopies and are hard to spot.

Smith and his group were feeling discouraged on their search and were beginning to turn back and head down the mountain when Smith spotted what he thought might be a Wondiwoi tree kangaroo. He was able to snap a few excellent photos and reached out to several experts on tree kangaroos before he made his finding public.

Experts seem to think there is little doubt that the shy little creature is a Wondiwoi tree kangaroo. Smith’s images were clear and show a distinctive coat color. Plus, the Wondiwoi Mountains are miles away from a suitable habitat for related kangaroos. It’s thought that the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo has a very limited habitation area, perhaps just 40 to 80 square miles.

However, scientists at Global Wildlife Conservation are working to confirm the sighting. They are attempting to obtain permits to verify the critter’s identity through DNA sampling and protect it with conservation safeguards. Here’s hoping the shy and elusive little critter is in fact the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo and that it’s safe in the tree tops!

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