Air Date: Week of January 16, 1998
This week, facts about...Saguaro cactus
KNOY: It's January, and in the Southwest the Sonoran Desert is already in bloom. This year's early flowering is being attributed to -- yep, El Nino. The Sonoran is home to a large and diverse group of plant and animal species, but its best-known inhabitant is the Saguaro cactus. In an average 200-year lifespan, the Saguaro can grow to 50 feet and weigh up to 9 tons. It also has an uncanny tendency to form human shapes, like 2 people hugging or a girl doing a handstand. Saguaros have been legally protected since 1933, but that hasn't stopped vandals from defacing them. So now, cactus cops patrol the desert. But some cacti can take care of themselves just fine. In 1982 a maintenance worker from Phoenix was using a 25-foot Saguaro for target practice, when he shot at one of its long spiny arms. the arm snapped off and fell on the man, killing him. It's still known as the Saguaro that fought back. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
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