Friday, 8 October, 2021

Malaria breakthrough for Africa’s kids; meet Otis: Alaska’s fattest bear; the Dolphins head to the NRL; and Rocky, the turtle-saving dog.



Otis the big fat bear:

Rocky the wonder dog:


Squiz Kids Instagram:

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It was a happy day for kids in Africa yesterday after it was announced a vaccine that could save the lives of tens of thousands had been approved and could soon be available.

The vaccine is for malaria – a disease that kills up to a quarter of a million African kids every year. 

Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes in many developing countries – especially in Africa. There is no malaria in mainland Australia … but it’s a disease that effects many of our near neighbours, especially countries close to the Equator – where mozzies like to live. Eugh.

Researchers have been trying to develop a vaccine for malaria for almost 100 years – which is why yesterday’s announcement was being described as ‘historic’. 

The vaccine helps kids immune systems fight off the disease if ever they are bitten by a mozzie that carries the malaria parasite. A vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year: now that’s something to celebrate.



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops, and today we’ve landed in Katmai National Park, in Alaska – where Otis the brown bear has once again been crowned the fattest bear in the park.

Each year, the park rangers run an online competition – to see which bear in their national park puts on the most weight over the northern hemisphere summer. 

As you know: bears hibernate in winter – which means to hide away from the snow and cold in a cave somewhere for months at a time. When they emerge in spring, they are all skin and bones. So – during the summer, they hunt and fish all day long – sometimes eating as many as 50 full-sized salmon a day – yikes – so that they’re carrying plenty of extra kilos for when the weather turns and they go back into hibernation. 

And it’s Otis who has won the eating competition this year – undergoing the most dramatic transformation from skinny runt of a bear to a big ol’ chubster. Well done Otis!

And yes, of course, there’s a link to before and after photos and video of Otis in today’s episode notes. 




Go the Dolphins! That’s a chant you could be hearing a whole lot more with a decision expected today on welcoming a fourth Queensland club into the NRL … with the hot favourite tipped to be the Redcliffe Dolphins. 

The Dolphins would be the second Brisbane team to enter the National Rugby League competition … joining the Brisbane Broncos in the Queensland capital’s stable …. Broncos, stable, geddit?

There are two other rugby league clubs being considered: the Ipswich Jets – and the Firehawks, who are based out of the Brisbane Easts Leagues Club in suburban Coorparoo. So just next door to me. Woot!

Once it’s all been approved by the NRL powers that be, the second Brisbane club would join the comp in 2023. Game on, people.


Yes, I know we talked about genius dogs in yesterday’s Animal Kingdom, but Louis wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t let you know about the amazing work being done by a springer spaniel by the name of Rocky. 

Rocky and his partner, human Tom Garrett, are hired by local governments up and down the south coast of Queensland to sniff out fox dens. European red foxes are an introduced species in Australia, and they are deadly for lots of native animals, including turtles, bats, and birds. Foxes find turtle eggs an especially tasty treat, but thanks to Rocky’s exceptional sense of smell, fox dens are being sniffed out and the invasive animals removed. And that’s making a difference… turtle hatchlings on the Capricorn coast have almost doubled this year. 

Tom says he and Rocky take great pride in their work protecting native species—and the only reward Rocky gets is a “thank you” and a tennis ball. What a good dog. There’s a link to photos and video of Rocky in today’s episode notes… 




We’re getting some incredible emails coming in to Squiz Kids with suggestions of new treehouse levels for Andy Griffiths, the author of the Treehouse series, who’ll be taking the Q+A hot seat soon. Listen to this one from Ella and Lilyana of Greystanes: A room where you can smash glass plates for fun, with a giant vacuum that sucks up the shards, repairs the plates, and sends them back for more smashing. Love it! 

If you have a crazy idea for a level that you think Andy should have in his next treehouse book, send in your suggestion in 250 words or less – using your best descriptive writing skills and or a drawing – to [email protected] B  ut you better get cracking – we need them in by Monday! When Andy takes the hot seat, he’ll judge the best ones and award prizes.  




This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. A new vaccine has been unveiled to fight what disease common among African kids?
  2. What’s the name of the bear who won the Katmai National Park fat bear competition?
  3. Name the dog whose helping to save turtle hatchlings on Australia’s Capricornia Coast …




It’s October 8… today is World Octopus Day, and World Egg Day … what a winning combination … 

It’s also a Friday – and you know what that means … a big ol’ list of birthday shout outs … which means it’s time for the old birthday reggae tune … hit it …  

And it’s a very happy birthday to Aria and Maddie from Shoal Bay, Saad from Nowra, Liana from Invermay, Brendon from Ruse, Caitlin from Cherrybrook and Scarlett from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

And not forgetting of course those Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday over the weekend…Elijah from Broken Hill, Bryce from Hughendon, Max from Clothiers Creek, Darcy from Skye, Joseph from Abbotsford, Daisy from Woolloongabba, Julian from Kingsgrove, Bailey from Kempsey, Violet from Deniliquin, Ayla from Freshwater, Aishwariya (pronounced Ai-sh-wa-riya) and Hannah whose listening all the way over there in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

And we’re still working our way through the belated shout outs to the following Squiz Kids who celebrated birthdays during the school holidays – Alex from Invermay, Eli from Abbotsford, Georgie from Wallumbilla, James from Walpole, Demi from Cannon Hill, Summer from Freshwater, Jake from Albany Hills, Zoe from Kew, Charlotte from Wollongong, Khera from Marayong South, Matthew from Raby, Noah from Perth, Tyler from Wentworth Point, Sebastian from Greystanes, Sophia from Caversham, Zoe from Perth and Ruby from Melbourne. 

If you’re still waiting for your belated birthday shout out from the school holidays, don’t worry – we haven’t forgotten you. We’ll be doing the last of them on Monday…


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Malaria
  2. Otis
  3. Rocky