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HIV drug may help fight dementia — and other good news you may have missed

(Photos: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance, Strategic Marketing Agency/Blackpool Zoo, Alhambra Elementary School District)
Photos: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance, Strategic Marketing Agency/Blackpool Zoo, Alhambra Elementary School District

Turn off the cable news, tune out the doom and gloom — and get ready for your weekly dose of good news. Here are this week’s best feel-good stories from Yahoo News partners.

Help wanted: Costume-wearing ‘seagull deterrent’

seagull deterrent costume
Candidates for a "seagull deterrent" position will need to dress in costume for the job. (Strategic Marketing Agency/Blackpool Zoo)

A zoo located less than 3 miles from the Irish Sea on England’s west coast has gone viral for its quirky job posting, receiving hundreds of applications for a recently advertised “seagull deterrent” position, Yahoo News partner Insider reported.

“As a seaside resort, Blackpool is not short of seagulls. However, the seagulls are proving to be a bit of a nuisance when it comes to trying to steal food from our visitors and our animal enclosures,” the job posting on Blackpool Zoo's website says. “We need to do what we can to keep the seagulls away from our main visitor dining areas, which is why we are looking for a team of people to join our Visitor Services team as ‘Seagull Deterrents.’”

Any interested candidate should be friendly, energetic, flexible, outgoing, “an excellent flapper” and “comfortable wearing a bird costume.”

The zoo says it's tried several unsuccessful techniques to scare off the unwelcome avian visitors, including eagle-shaped kites and large statues of various birds of prey, so it's hoping the new “deterrents” will do the trick.

HIV drug may help fight dementia, study says

The molecular structure of maraviroc — an antiviral used to treat HIV
The molecular structure of maraviroc, an antiviral used to treat HIV. (Getty Images)

A drug used to treat patients with HIV may also help treat neurodegenerative conditions like dementia after a study published on Wednesday showed promise in mice, Yahoo News partner the Daily Beast reported.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. used an antiviral drug called maraviroc, which was approved by the FDA in 2007 to treat HIV, to treat mice that had been genetically engineered to develop specific forms of Huntington’s disease. At the end of the four-week trial, the mice that had been treated with maraviroc performed better on memory and object-recognition tests than the untreated mice.

The treated mice also had less protein build-up than the untreated ones. Neurodegenerative issues largely stem from the body’s inability to clear misfolded proteins out of the brain, and as they build up, these proteins can kill brain cells and trigger diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“Maraviroc may not itself turn out to be the magic bullet, but it shows a possible way forward,” senior study author David Rubinsztein said. “During the development of this drug as a HIV treatment, there were a number of other candidates that failed along the way because they were not effective against HIV. We may find that one of these works effectively in humans to prevent neurodegenerative diseases.”

Carrie Fisher to receive posthumous star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Carrie Fisher
The late Carrie Fisher will be honored with a star on “Star Wars” Day. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)

Actress Carrie Fisher, best known for playing Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films, will finally be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Yahoo News partner the Evening Standard reported.

“Long overdue & so well-deserved,” her “Star Wars” co-star Mark Hamill tweeted on Monday.

Fisher, who died in 2016 at age 60, will be memorialized on Hollywood Boulevard near the El Capitan Theatre on May 4, aka “Star Wars” Day, close to the Walk of Fame star of her late mother, Debbie Reynolds. Fisher’s daughter, actress Billie Lourd, will accept the star on her mother’s behalf.

Fisher’s star will be the 2,754th on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Motion Pictures category, joining “Star Wars” leading men Hamill and Harrison Ford, who already have stars on the prestigious promenade.

Elderly city cats reunited with owner after building collapse

Damage from the partial collapse of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan
Damage from the partial collapse of a parking garage in Manhattan, April 20. (Barry Williams for the New York Daily News via Getty Images)

Two elderly cats in New York City were united with their owner on Thursday after being trapped in an apartment building when an adjacent garage collapsed in lower Manhattan, Yahoo News partner the Guardian reported.

The feline reunion is a bright spot in an otherwise grim incident in which one person — the garage’s longtime manager — was killed and five others were injured.

“I personally didn’t think the cats were going to survive,” Sandy Imhoff said of Dave, age 12, and Cathy, age 14.

Imhoff, who has lived in the building since 1977, said she tried to evacuate with her pets shortly after the garage collapse on April 18, “but was unable to corral the cats in time,” the Guardian said. Dave and Cathy were later found under Imhoff’s bed, and a number of other cats were also rescued at the address by Department of Buildings workers.

3rd graders surprised with free college tuition

Madrid Elementary School student
All third graders at Madrid Neighborhood School in Phoenix have the opportunity to attend college at no cost, thanks to the Rosztoczy Foundation's College Promise program. (Alhambra Elementary School District)

Eighty-nine third graders at Madrid Neighborhood School, an elementary school in Phoenix, were surprised on Tuesday with news that they would receive full scholarships to college, Yahoo News partner the Arizona Republic reported.

The Rosztoczy Foundation, a family foundation based in Avondale, Ariz., will fund tuition and room and board for a four-year school, or tuition and books at a community college, for students who graduate from the Alhambra Elementary School District and the Phoenix Union High School District. Students who attend private universities or out-of-state universities will receive the equivalent of in-state tuition at a public Arizona university to put toward their tuition costs.

“A weight has been lifted off my shoulders for them,” said one parent, Michelle Chavez, who has two children in third grade.

Tom Rosztoczy, co-founder of the scholarship program with his wife, said the foundation focuses on third graders because they are at the “magic age” when they are “old enough to understand what a scholarship means and young enough to change their trajectory to work toward college,” the Arizona Republic said.

The foundation also wanted to make higher education more attainable for students at a school with a high percentage of low-income families.