Three good green reads – from rot-proof apples to a revelation about everyone's favorite reindeer

A little green reading on the light side, from apples that won't rot for 4 months to why Rudolph the reindeer is probably a girl.

Male reindeer don't usually have their antlers at Christmastime, but shed them earlier in fall, after mating season has ended.

Want a little light relief from all the heavy environmental news coming out of Copenhagen? We have a trio of suggestions:

–  Scientists explain why Rudolph, star of song and TV, probably isn't a male reindeer at all.

–  Next year, if an apple in a Christmas stocking gets overlooked until Easter, it'll still taste fine.

–  If polar bears succumb to global warming, you can still see them at one zoo, which puts fake bears on display.

Read on.

A December news flash - Rudolph is a girl
Scottish scientistsreveal that the red-nosed reindeer should probably be called Rudolphine.

Their reasoning? Only female reindeer have antlers at this time of year. The males of the species shed theirs after the fall mating season (when they've used them to fight one another).

Maybe we should have known all along that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is a girl, says Jace Shoemaker-Galloway at eco-worldly: "Since Santa never seems to get lost, perhaps it only makes sense a female is leading the way in that oh-so-famous sleigh!"

Fake polar bears at the zoo
You've read about polar bears and shrinking ice and polar bears and grizzlies mating, but have you seen the fake polar bears at the St. Louis Zoo?

Maybe that's what will happen when various species disappear – forget the real thing and bring in electronic robots.

If so, the St. Louis Zoo will be ahead of everyone else. This isn't the first time the zoo has used models, says Denise Bertacchi.

Obviously a regular visitor to the zoo, she catalogs a “dead antelope” in a tree, "fake bird’s eggs, fake baby snakes in a log, a rather large lizard near the elephants, and some fake bats in the Missouri Cave at the end of River’s Edge."

Also, she says:

The Zoo has slipped a few more display-only animals around the zoo. Have you spotted the rabbit and the heron’s nest in the Cyprus Swamp? What about the penguin sculptures around and inside Penguin Cove?

Exhibiting fake wildlife instead of real is good news to those who think that zoos shouldn't exist.

A rot-resistant apple
Does the world need an apple that stays fresh in your fruit bowl for 14 days and good in the fridge for four months? Ready or not, one's on the way for 2010.

Going by the forgettable moniker of RS103-130, the Australian apple is said to be very sweet, reports TreeHugger.

Why would such a fruit be good for the environment? It's more disease-resistant than many other varieties, which would cut down on pesticide use. And it's not genetically modified.

Also, according to Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society, in The Independent, there's "a huge environmental cost in running the cold stores to keep the apples, so if you had a variety that required less cold storing, that would be valuable."

Editor’s note: Visit us again tomorrow, when we get back to serious news about the environment. For articles, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.

You can also follow Judy on Twitter.

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