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The Seal Who Loved Me (cover story) — In this Valentine tale with a difference, renowned National Geographic polar photographer Paul Nicklen tells of his amazing underwater encounter with a leopard seal — one of the fiercest predators in the Antarctic. As he was filming the seal, she swam off and returned with a live penguin, which she tried to feed him. She repeated this behavior over and over again for the next four days, eventually bringing him dead penguins and showing him how to eat them. She even placed dead penguin gifts on his head and his underwater camera. At one stage she protected him from another leopard seal that had sneaked up behind him. “My relationship with this magnificent seal, so approachable, so tender, and yet so fierce, is something that will stay with me forever,” he writes. Page 20.
20 Cool Things About Chocolate — Check out some sweet facts about this favorite Valentine treat: Americans buy 48 million pounds of chocolate for Valentine’s Day — about the same weight as 128 blue whales; the Hershey chocolate factory in Pennsylvania produces more than 20 million Hershey Kisses a day; chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao plant, which grows only in areas near the equator; there are 30-50 seeds in each footballshaped cacao pod — enough to make seven bars of milk chocolate; the scientific name for chocolate, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods”; chocolate-covered ants are a treat in Mexico; it would take 15,133,852,800 Hershey Bar squares laid end to end to reach the moon. Page 16.
Robot Roundup — National Geographic Kids takes an inside look at the future of robots. HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, will soon be able to grab and pick up your clothes and put them away in drawers; AIDA, the Affectionate Intelligent Driving Agent, sits on the dashboard and acts as a supersmart copilot for the driver. Connected to sensors in the car, AIDA will be able to remind a driver to stop for gas or add air to the tires, and with facial recognition software, it’ll know how to gauge the mood of the driver and offer helpful suggestions in even the most stressful situations. Page 24.
Amazing Animals — Read about three animal antics: In Mexico, Merlin the dolphin plays games on an iPad. His trainer shows him the image of a toy on the iPad, and Merlin is able to find the real toy in his pool. In South Africa, the owners of a safari lodge couldn’t figure out why their hot tubs were full at night, but almost empty every morning — until they found the elephants were using them as watering holes to enjoy a nice warm drink. And Romeo the stork flies back to a zoo in Switzerland every year to be reunited with his mate, Julia, who broke her wing three years ago and is unable to migrate, like Romeo, to Africa. Page 14.
National Geographic Kids, a multitopic, photo-driven magazine for 6- to 14-year-olds, empowers its readers by making it fun to learn about the world. Its numerous industry awards include Periodical of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from the Association of Educational Publishers. Published 10 times a year, National Geographic Kids has a circulation of 1.1 million and is available by subscription for $19.95 a year and on newsstands for $4.99 a copy. Its website is at kids.nationalgeographic.com.