a surprise birthday gift from m. this year was a donation to the cambodian operations of APOPO, an international non-profit that, amongst other things, trains landmine-sniffing giant african pouched rats to assist cambodians in detecting and clearing mined areas. i confess initially to having some qualms about the ethics of using animals for mine detection -- particularly as i am fond of rats -- but i am assured that the rats, being light in weight, do not in fact set off any mines (unlike sniffer dogs, which would), and the rats appear (insofar as anyone can determine these things publicly) well-treated and well-cared for. the gentle reader intending a last minute round of charitable donations ere the tax year's end may find their projects and achievements of both humanitarian and zoological interest.

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