It’s not often that spiders are a gift of fellowship. It’s perhaps even less often that they are received with enthusiasm. Yet the unlikely occurred in May when the Smithsonian Institution and the Republic of Madagascar signed a protocol to strengthen cooperation in natural science and conservation. The protocol is another step in Madagascar’s recognition of its large number of unique species and habitats. In honor of the new alliance, Madame Lala Rakotovao, director of the Center for Environmental Research in Madagascar, donated 61 rare and coveted Great Spiders (Nephilia madagascariensis) to the National Zoo for biologists to study. And perhaps an international baby shower will follow: Some of the donated arachnids are gravid.

With the help of a $1.5 million gift given by an emeritus board member, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland will soon be home to the nutrition department of Case Western Reserve University’s School of...

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