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Cats, otters and cockatiels, oh my! ​Austin Fire Department responds to 'smoke-alarm' bird and more animal antics​

Sunny the cockatiel served as a stand-in smoke alarm when part of his owner's South Austin house caught on fire. (AFD/Facebook)

From a smoke-alarm sounding cockatiel to a backstroking otter, the Austin Fire Department has been busy protecting its furriest residents in the past few months.

Here are three heartwarming and heroic animal rescues from AFD's Tuesday Facebook post:

Curiosity got the cat

Molty the cat was rescued from a tree Friday by an Austin firefighter. (AFD/Facebook)

In a rite of passage each firefighter must eventually be brave enough to pull off, AFD rescued an indoor cat named Molty Friday after the kitty's curiosity got her stuck in a neighbor's tree. After she climbed the tree, she quickly "realized her exclusive life indoors had ill-prepared her for such a feat" and spent the next four hours on a "precarious perch." Probationary Firefighter Harley Preston did the dirty work in bringing the scaredy-cat back down.

A backstroking otter

AFD firefighters watch as a backstroking otter perches on their ladder at a retention pond. (AFD/Facebook)

Earlier this month, AFD ran—or swam—into another furry friend as a crew was called to respond to a perilous situation—an otter doing a backstroke in a retention pond at the J.J. Pickle Research Center in North Austin. The crew promptly sent out a ladder to the otter, which it rested on for a few minutes before swimming away. Texas Parks and Wildlife, which has reported an increase in river otter populations across Texas, eventually secured the otter and moved him to a more appropriate location.

Sunny the "smoke alarm" cockatiel

Sunny the cockatiel saved the day on a south Austin call earlier this month. (AFD/Facebook)

An unexpected hero named Sunny saved the day on a south Austin call earlier this month. After a smoke alarm failed to sound in the early hours of the morning, the cockatiel alerted his owner of smoke from a fire caused by a malfunction on the heating unit. After putting out the fire with dishtowels, the owner called 9-1-1 and was thanked for his heroics by AFD officers.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.