Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Are we nearly there yet?

Elephant falls asleep after being sung a lullaby

Despite being all grown up now, Faamai the elephant still falls asleep every time she hears a lullaby sung by Lek at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

YouTube link.

Shots fired during alleged wheelbarrow heist

A man from Piercy, California, is being held in the Mendocino County jail for allegedly firing a shotgun outside a neighbour’s home during a wheelbarrow heist.

Bradley Nystrom, 46, was booked into the Mendocino County jail on Sunday on suspicion of robbery, carrying a loaded firearm in public and discharging a shotgun within 500 yards of an occupied dwelling, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

A woman and her 14-year-old daughter were inside their home in northern Mendocino County when the incident occurred. The woman told deputies she was preparing a meal at about 11:40am when she heard a gunshot. She said she looked outside and saw Nystrom standing in front of her house with a shotgun.

He took a wheelbarrow, fired another round and walked to his residence, the woman told deputies. Sheriff’s deputies, with assistance from the CHP, contacted Nystrom in front of his residence and arrested him without incident, officials said. He is being held on $155,000 bail.

Man faces up to 10 years in jail for allegedly changing road sign to say 'Drive Crazy Yall'

A man from Leander, Texas, is accused of changing an electronic highway message sign in Williamson County to say “Drive Crazy Yall.”

The incident happened on Sunday in the 5500 block of 183A-tollway’s southbound frontage road. Geoffrey Eltgroth, 26, was charged with criminal mischief (tampering with transportation communication equipment), a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

A resident flagged down an off-duty Williamson County sheriff’s deputy and told him that a man walking a dog had altered a warning about road construction on the electronic message board. It said the man “had typed ‘Drive Crazy Yall’” to display on the board.

The deputy found Eltgroth walking nearby and confronted him about changing the sign. Eltgroth allegedly “admitted to typing in a user name and password (which he guessed) for the sign and to deleting the message to warn traffic of upcoming construction and typing the different message because he believed it was humorous.” Eltgroth is being held in the Williamson County Jail with no bail set.

Five baby squirrels recovering after getting their tails tangled

It was a "yapping" noise that first caught the attention of Wayne Komoski and his wife. At first, the couple from the Charleswood suburb of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, thought they had stumbled upon a nest of baby squirrels, but when they looked closer, they realised what all the commotion was about. "They were trying to get apart, and they couldn't," Komoski said.

All five baby grey squirrels were tangled by their tails at the base of a tree, and a piece of black garbage bag was tightly wrapped around their tails. Komoski said he tried everything he could to safely separate the rodents without getting bitten. "They were sort of like, wanting to nip you," he said. Komoski first tried cutting the black plastic to free the rodents. "You had to be careful where you put the scissors, that's how tight it was," said Komoski.

"Then my wife got some cooking oil and tried to spray it on their tails so they would slide out, but it didn't work." Komoski then decided to take the animals to an expert. Using a towel, he managed to trap the five squirrels in a box. He then delivered the animals to the Pembina Veterinary Hospital, where they were separated. All five are now in the care of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where they are being fed and monitored, said the organisation's president Lisa Tretiak.

The squirrels likely got tangled while they were growing up in the nest, she said. The five squirrels will remain at rehabilitation centre for the next couple of weeks to ensure their tails are not permanently damaged. "We have to see how the blood flow is going to go through the tail," said Tretiak. Grey squirrels cannot survive without their tails as the rodents use them for balance and for warmth in the winter, said Tretiak. If they are healthy, all the animals will be released back into the wild.

Butcher says he meant no offence with 'bacon suicide bomber' sign

Butcher Jeff Rapley from Narooma in New South Wales, Australia, says he meant no offence with a sign meant to boost bacon sales.

Earlier this month Mr Rapley put up a sign in his shop window stating: “Eating two strips of Rapley’s award-winning bacon for breakfast reduces your chance of being a suicide bomber by 100%”.

A local resident who noticed the sign complained to the butcher and he removed it later that day and has not displayed it since. Mr Rapley said he did mean to cause any offence and no particular religion was mentioned.

He also noted that he does have a Muslim assistant working for him. “I’m definitely not a racist and didn’t mean for it to cause offence,” he said. On the plus side, his bacon sales have increased and he is almost out of stock.

Woman fined for carrying bag saying All Cats Are Beautiful

A woman has been fined by police for walking through Madrid in Spain while carrying a bag that declared "All Cats Are Beautiful". As Spanish graphic designer Belén Lobeto walked home on Sunday night she was pulled to one side by policemen and given an on the spot fine for the fashion article.

Despite the fact that the bag carried an image of a cat and the phrase "All Cats Are Beautiful" beneath the letters ACAB, the police insisted it was an acronym for the phrase "All Cops Are Bastards". She was therefore fined under the controversial Citizens Security Law, or Gag Law as it has been dubbed by its critics, for disrespecting the police.

The €100 fine was issued in a street near the Calderón stadium where there was a heavy police presence due to the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Sevilla. "I was going quietly to my house when suddenly two officers ran up to me and asked for my ID and said they would issue a fine because I was carrying this bag," Lobeto explained.

"I asked why and expressed doubt that my bag was attracting any attention much less causing a crime and told them they should take me in front of a judge to explain," she continued. Ms Lobeto said she tried to make the police see reason but "changing their mind was impossible and if I didn’t shut my mouth I would have been taken away".

Harsh but fair

Edward Hamilton-Russell from Bulmer in Suffolk recently wrote to The Telegraph, recounting an incident that happened while he was in the army in the late 1980's.

Naked woman casually strolled through town centre after leaving tanning salon

A woman emerged naked from a tanning salon in Newquay, Cornwall, and strolled through the town centre. The mystery woman was completely starkers as she waked along the street before getting into a car and driving off. Witnesses said the middle-aged blonde woman appeared completely calm as she walked through town just before midday on Sunday.

It is unclear why she decided to embark on her two minute nude walk after emerging from a tanning salon with just a towel under her arm. But Amy Martin, 36, of Newquay, who spotted her outside Burger King and took pictures, said she seemed oblivious to all the fuss she was creating. She said: "It was about 12 noon on Sunday and I was outside work when I saw this woman walk down the street.

"At first I thought she was wearing a flesh coloured wet suit but then I saw her bum. I could not believe it. She was just casually walking down the street with a towel under her arm, crossed the road, got into a yellow car and then drove off." Amy says she later spoke to the owner of a nearby tanning salon who revealed the woman had just been in there.

She added: "She was in her mid 40s I reckon and was walking down the road, like she had just done her shopping in Aldi. I could understand if it was a stag do or a man as you see that all the time in Newquay. But you don't usually see a middle-aged woman naked as a jaybird. I just could not believe it. The whole street stopped in shock. Everyone stopped still and were all looking. She just carried on and it was like she was oblivious to it all."

Hero paramedic saved farmer by hitting raging bull on the nose with a welly

A heroic paramedic armed with only a wellington boot managed to pacify a raging bull attempting to trample an injured farmer to death. Emergency medical technician Keith Harrison's brave actions have been praised by his colleagues who believe he saved them and the patient, who had a fractured neck and broken leg, from further injuries and potentially death at McCartneys livestock auctions in Worcester. Fellow paramedic Simon Edwards, who also attended the incident, said it was one of the most frightening ordeals of his 25-year career.

Despite all the praise, Mr Harrison, from Northwick, Worcester, who has been a paramedic for 34 years, is modest about his actions and said the main priority was getting the patient out safely. "Myself and my colleague Martin Sharpe got a call saying someone had fallen at the cattle market but when we got there we found the gentleman hadn't had a fall but a bull had gorged him and crushed him against a pen. It had injured him quite badly but he managed to roll away from the bull who was still in the pen. We carried on treating him, putting him on a spinal board and setting up drips but all the time we were aware this bull was becoming angrier and angrier and attempting to climb over the small, flimsy metal gate.

"Simon said we needed to do something and I think I had been watching the Discover Channel show which said in a shark attack you should hit the shark in the nose to get it off and I wondered if it would work on a bull. The only thing around was the welly we had taken off the farmer so I grabbed it and hit the bull on the nose. It seemed to have the desired effect and he backed down enough to get the man out to safety." While Mr Harrison said he was no hero and has been subjected to a bit of friendly "mickey-taking". But his colleague Mr Edwards believes his actions saved the farmer and them from death or injury. He said: "The bull was really kicking off, he wasn't happy and began charging and jumped on top of a flimsy gate. His head and chest were over and he was trying to get the farmer who was about a metre and a half away from him. It was a sheep pen and a bull's weight is all at the front of his body so the metal began to buckle.

"We knew if he got out, which looked likely, he would trample the farmer to death. I was shaking the gate trying to scare him back, the farmer's wife was shouting at the bull - nothing was working - then Keith took hold of the welly. He began waving the welly in front of the bull and whacked him on the nose, I honestly thought it would enrage the bull more. After a few whacks with the welly, the bull jumped off the wall and just retreated backwards. I've been a paramedic for 25 years and it was probably one of the scariest scenarios I have ever been in. The bull was so big and strong it would have killed the farmer and probably us if it wasn't for Keith's actions." The farmer is believed to have recovered from the injuries. Mr Harrison said it could have been disastrous if the bull had managed to clamber over the flimsy gate. "I didn't realise how large a bull was - it could have done some real damage. It wasn't funny at the time, particularly for the patient, and ultimately if he had got out we would have probably had to try and drag him away as far as we could."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The horror

Young Bonobo joyfully slides down a hill

A juvenile Bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) has fun sliding down a hill at Twycross Zoo, in Atherstone, England.

YouTube link. Additional YouTube video.

Pig spotted running down street during a hailstorm

During a hailstorm in Billings, Montana, on Saturday, Hamlet the mini-pig escaped from his home

He was spotted running down a street during the downpour. Rick Lindholm, who was shooting video of the storm, spotted Hamlet.

"What is this? It's a pig!" Lindholm says excitedly. Hamlet is now doing fine and is back to his normal self after a few treats.

YouTube link. Facebook video link.

Carmella Tyrrell, Hamlet's owner later said: "Hamlet is good. We were terrified when we saw him running down the sidewalk. My son came to his rescue."

Drunk man who climbed into lions' enclosure at zoo arrested after being rescued unscathed

A 35-year-old man, who was reportedly in an inebriated state, jumped into the lion enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, India, on Sunday. Luckily, minutes later, the man was pulled out unharmed by zoo security personnel while the animal keeper diverted the attention of two big cats, which came dangerously close to him.

The intruder, identified as Mukesh, a native of Kurdiya village in Seekar district of Rajasthan, works as a helper with L&;T Metro rail and stays at Chaitanyapuri. On Sunday evening, Mukesh, apparently in an inebriated condition, went to the zoo along with five friends. At 4.55pm, Mukesh climbed the lion enclosure fence and got into the moat. "Even as security staff kept warning him, Mukesh crossed the barricade and went into the African lion enclosure.

YouTube link.

A lioness, Radhika, was inside the enclosure," Nehru Zoo curator Shivani Dogra said. Noticing Mukesh, Radhika, the nine-year-old lioness, came close to him, almost to the edge of the moat. A little later, an Africal lion, Kishan, joined her. But animal keeper R Papaiah, who takes care of the big cats, called them and directed them to go towards the other side of the enclosure. "The two big cats followed the instructions of Papaiah and went away," zoo chief security officer, J Muralidhar, said.

"The intruder was rescued by animal keeper R Papaiah with the assistance of security personnel." Zoo officials then handed over Mukesh to the Bahadurpura police. "Except for a scratch on his leg due to the fall in the moat, Mukesh did not suffer any injuries. We are questioning him and his friends to know the motive behind the crazy act," Bahadurpura inspector Harish Kaushik said. Police are planning to book Mukesh under trespass and other relevant charges.

Lego 'arms race': study says that company are making more violent toys

Lego products are becoming increasingly violent as toymakers engage in an "arms race" to catch children's attention in the digital age, a new study says. New Zealand researchers say bricks with weapons have steadily become more commonplace and are now included in 30% of Lego kits. The study said Lego reflected a broader trend in children's entertainment.

Lego says weapons are always used for a wider purpose such as saving the world, and are part of a child's development. Researchers from the University of Canterbury concluded that Lego "showed significant exponential increases of violence over time", with a higher proportion of weapons appearing among Lego's building blocks and themed kits. Lego's first weapons were issued in 1978 when a castle kit included swords, axes and lances.

"The Lego company's products are not as innocent as they used to be," lead researcher Christoph Bartneck said. "The violence in Lego products seems to have gone beyond just enriching game play," he added. An analysis of Lego catalogues from 1973 to 2015 found the scenarios depicted had also become more violent, with 40% of all pages containing some type of violence such as shooting or threatening behaviour.

"To catch the attention of their customers, toy manufacturers are similarly locked in a metaphorical arms race for exciting new products," the study said. Lego spokesman Troy Taylor said the company's products promoted a range of play activities such as construction, fantasy and conflict. "As with other play types, conflict play is a natural part of a child's development," he said. "We always try and use humour where possible as it helps tone down the level of conflict," he added.

Stolen baby penguin statue returned by thief after two years, albeit bereft of feet

The mysterious case of the missing penguin that disappeared from the garden of a café in Vienna, Austria, two years ago has had a happy ending after the flightless bird suddenly re-appeared earlier this month.

The stone baby penguin has been returned to the larger ‘adult’ penguin it had been standing next to for decades in the garden of Café Rüdigerhof with the note ‘Mum, I’m back’. The supposed thief offered no explanation, however, as to why the penguin was now missing its two feet.

When the model had been taken from the cafe’s beer garden, devastated owner Renate Halper even put out a reward of €300 and ten large beers for whomever found the baby bird. Despite the generous reward, the bird, which had been part of the cafe’s garden since Halper was a baby, had stayed missing until this month when it was discovered again behind the cafe by Halper’s son.

“Perhaps the thief felt guilty?” Halper said. After getting some new feet from a stonemason, the penguin will once again return to the garden, although Halper remains none-the-wiser about where it has been for two years nor who took it.

New hotel owners claim the building is haunted

A couple who took over a hotel in rural Scotland believe they have a ghost. A series of spooky disturbances have left Arpad Halasz and his fiancée puzzled since becoming co-managers of the Red Moss Hotel in Lanarkshire four months ago. The till springs open of its own accord, newly-made beds suddenly show the indent of a body, newspapers flick open and TVs switch on and off. But events at the hotel just off the M74 at Crawfordjohn took an even stranger turn, appropriately enough, on Friday the 13th.

Arpad, originally from Hungary, said: “We were awoken by the sound of something breaking and when I went to investigate I found a picture had come off the wall and smashed in the function room. “The hook and picture wire were fine, so I couldn’t understand what happened.” Arpad and the hotel’s owner, Eddie MacNeil, reviewed the CCTV footage and were shocked at what they saw. “An orb suddenly appears in the room and floats around before seemingly going behind the picture, which then comes down off of the wall,” he continued.

Full four minute YouTube video.

“The orb floats around a little more and then disappears. There have been lots of instances of weird things happening since I came here, like items moving from one place to another when my back is turned. It’s strange but I don’t let this type of thing bother me.” There have long been stories of spooky sightings at the Red Moss but never before have they been captured on film. Local historian Robert French said the most famous story is that of the so-called Quine of the Red Moss. “The ghostly figure of a beautiful young woman carrying a light has been witnessed on the moss land around the hotel,” he said.

“During the time of the Covenanters, she was said to be sent out by her mother to look for her brother, who had failed to return from an illegal religious service, known as a conventicle, being held on the land. She too never came back and over the years drivers on the road have reported seeing a dim light across the desolate moss. Maybe the orb on the footage is that same light.” Ghosthunter Tom Robertson, who has investigated the mysterious goings-on at the Red Moss in the past, said: “The place is definitely haunted, of that there is no doubt, because I saw an apparition of a female figure in the dining room years ago. She doesn’t appear to be wishing anyone any harm.”

School bans teachers' whistles to signal end of playtime because they are too aggressive

A primary school in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, has banned whistles from being used to signal the end of playtime because they are 'too aggressive' and might scare children.

Staff at St Monica's Catholic Primary School in Neath Hill will instead raise their hand at the end of breaks, and hope the children spot them. The ban on whistles was revealed by teaching assistant Pamela Cunningham, and she attacked the ban saying she still keeps her whistle in her pocket 'just in case'.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, has called the move 'crazy'. He said: "We have become extraordinarily over-sensitive. Does this mean children are not going to be able to play football and hockey because the referees use whistles? What about fire alarms?"

The school is a voluntary aided Catholic Primary School which has 467 children on roll, including at the nursery, and educates children aged between three and 11 years.

Wild animals kept at UK homes include lions, tigers and crocodiles

Wild animals including lions, tigers, crocodiles, rattlesnakes and zebras are being kept legally on private property across the UK, figures have revealed. More than 100 councils have issued licences to people who keep undomesticated animals at home, a freedom of information request has found. The FOI request was sent to every council in the UK, of which 363 replied.

It also showed more than 300 cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes are being kept. Animal welfare experts have expressed concern at the findings. Dangerous wild animals licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have the requisite safety measures at their home and pay a fee.

Licences are also issued to properties where animals may be receiving care after being rescued, or living at small private farms, where people keep wild beasts for breeding purposes. The figures supplied by the councils only collate details of animals being kept legally with a licence, but not any that are being kept without the proper authorisation.

A RSPCA spokeswoman said they were "deeply concerned" about the figures. "People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home. This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal's needs and whether they're a realistic pet."

Men rescued by firefighters after their inflatable boat was sunk by an otter

An otter was to blame for a puncture to a dinghy that led to two men having to be rescued from the River Severn in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, after getting stranded. The occupants were led to safety by crews from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. The rescue unit was sent to the river at about 10.20pm last Wednesday after the alarm was raised when the men became stuck on the debris.

A fire service spokesman said the two men had been travelling down the river in a dinghy when their boat drifted over to an area of river debris and they got stuck. He said: “They were quite safe where they were, they just had to be help from that log debris area.” A fire service spokesman said the two men had been travelling down the river in a dinghy when their boat got a puncture.

They became stranded in the middle of the river on an area of tree debris. He said: “They were quite safe where they were, they just had to be help from that log debris area.” The men were rescued by fire service boat and then checked over by an ambulance crew as a precaution by about 11.15pm. Police were also at the scene.

One of the boat's occupants, Bridgnorth resident Stuart Davidson, said: “Otter burst our boat. Two blokes, a deflated rubber and two fire engines.” The Bridgnorth otter has been spotted splashing about in the River Severn, close to Bridgnorth Bridge, in recent months. It is believed to have taken up home in the wood and debris that has built up a the bridge following heavy rain earlier this year.