Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Real-life Babe the Pig herds sheep

A 2ft tall pig is hogging the limelight after a farmer discovered it had a talent for herding sheep.

Sue the Kunekune pig is learning the tricks usually done by man's best friend and is now being trained in a variety of farmyard skills.

And just like in the movie Babe, Sue is teaching the farmyard dogs a few tricks.

The six-month-old can 'give his trotter', run through tunnels, navigate round poles, climb ramps and even do a figure-eight.

His owner Wendy Scudamore, 51, introduced her pet to sheep and admits he could easily master herding them.

Sue had been intended for a life of breeding on the farm but took on a different role after he was was accidently castrated as a piglet.

Realising he had a talent for tricks his owners decided to teach him some useful farmyard skills, including sheep herding and agility training.

He was given the name Sue after the famous Johnny Cash song 'A Boy Named Sue'.

His famous connections continue as Sue is set to follow in the trotter steps of the film character 'Babe', the talking pig who learned to herd sheep.

Mrs Scudamore said she always knew Sue, who lives on the family farm in Herefordshire, was a special pig.

She said: 'Sue could easily herd sheep, if I used him with the dogs he would be able to copy what they were doing and could become a real-life Babe like in the film.

'He has been watching them through the fence and has even met them up close, although he was a little wary at first.

'Pigs are very intelligent and I would say Sue is easily as clever as a dog.'

Mrs Scudamore said Sue's talents were discovered after her daughter Lucy began training one the family's dogs in the garden.

'The pigs worked out that the dogs were getting treats for doing the obstacles so they started copying them,' she said.

But Sue proved so good at the tricks that he learnt faster than the dogs and his owners now plan to enter him in this summer's Royal Welsh Show's agility event.

'He is a very good specimen of the Kunekune breed and I mainly breed for breeding stock and have exported Kunes all over Europe, so he was destined to be a breeding boar,' Mrs Scudamore said.

'Due to a very unfortunate mix up at the vets he was mistakenly castrated.

'I felt very bad about this and decided not to pass him on to someone else but to try to use him myself in some other way.'

She insists pigs are easy to train with some of her porkers and that she has trained others for entertaining crowds.

'I decided to try Sue at the training and so far he has been a little star so he's on his way,' she said.

'Sue has fun with our dogs, the horses and the sheep, but he really likes playing with the cats because they jump on his back and scratch it.'

She also uses Sue and her other animals to help people with learning disabilities and behavioural problems at Barton Hill Animal Centre, near Kentchurch, Herefordshire.

Daily Mail

Belfast zoo hunts 'elephant angel'

BELFAST (AFP) – Belfast zoo on Monday launched a search for a mystery woman who sheltered a baby elephant named Sheila during World War II.

The woman, dubbed the "elephant angel", housed Sheila in her back garden for parts of the war because of fears the zoo would be hit during the 1941 Belfast Blitz.

"The woman is something of a zoo legend," said manager Joy Bond, adding: "The pictures have been here a long time but nobody had been able to identify her."

Grainy black and white photographs issued by the zoo show the elephant calf with two women, but give no clue as to the identity of either, one of whom is believed to be the mystery carer. Bond said several people had called saying they could be the woman's neighbours.

"Sheila the elephant arrived to the zoo in the late 1930s, and lived until the early 1960s," added zoo chief Mark Challis. "If it wasn't for the care of this lady, that may not have been the case."

During the war the government ordered the killing of 33 animals including one hyena, six wolves, one puma, one tiger, one black bear, two polar bears and one lynx, due to fears they could escape during air raids, the zoo said.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hen adopts puppies

Source: Ananova

A hen in China has reportedly adopted two orphaned puppy dogs after their mother died.

Owner Cao Fengying, of Majiaqiao village, Jiashan town, says the hen was best friends with the puppy's mother.

But the dog was poisoned just ten days after giving birth to puppies, reports Today Morning.

Cao said: "The hen and the dog had been friends for two years. They would never fight but just play together.

"I thought the puppies would die after their mother went but the next morning I discovered that the puppies had gone missing.

"Then I heard the hen clucking in her coop. I looked over and saw that the little puppies were underneath the hen."

The hen now looks after her adopted children, defending them if anyone approaches and letting them eat first at meal times.

"Once I even saw the hen fight off several other chickens which were trying to steal the puppies' food," added Cao.

Villagers say they can't understand why a hen would be so protective of two puppies - but Cao believes she is simply doing right by her late friend.

Mum bathes baby in breast milk

Source: Ananova

A Chinese new mother is producing so much breast milk that she baths her baby in the excess each day.

Mrs Luo, of Chongqing, says she is producing two litres of milk more than she needs to feed her six-week-old daughter Shan Shan.

Mother, husband and her mother-in-law had all been drinking the extra milk but she says they still have plenty left over.

Luo's mother-in-law said they were all beginning to feel like they were drinking too much milk: "Then I suggested why not give the baby a breast milk bath, and they took my advice," she said.

Luo said the milk bath makes her Shan Shan's skin really smooth and white, reports the Chingqing Times.

But she is looking for someone to donate her extra breast milk to as she feels that bathing her baby in breast milk is too much of an indulgence.

Purr-fect entrance

Source: Ananova

A Hertfordshire-based firm has launched the ultimate posh cat flap for pampered pussycats.

The Swarovski crystal-encrusted cat flap is billed as the latest 'must have' pet accessory that will brighten up any back door.

Encrusted with more than 1,000 Swarovski crystals, it sells for £1,000. Designers Doors4Paws claims a 'minor celebrity' has already placed the first order.

The firm sells a number of special cat flap designs, including one in the style of a stable door and another based on a Roman arch.

However, the design currently generating the most interest is the Swarovski cat flap, says a company spokesman.

Teen's tummy ache was a baby

Source: Ananova

A teenage barmaid was rushed into hospital with stomach pains - and then gave birth to a baby daughter.

Rachael Yanetta had no idea she was pregnant - and the first ex-boyfriend Matthew Burns knew was when she sent him a picture message from her phone.

"I'm still in complete shock," said Miss Yannetta, of South Shields. "Surprise isn't the word, the whole family's stunned."

She was pulling pints when she started complaining of stomach cramps but she battled through the pain, completing her shift before returning home in a taxi at midnight.

But as the pain worsened, her family decided to take her to accident and emergency at South Tyneside District Hospital at about 3am.

"When I got there I started bleeding and the pain was unbearable. The nurse said 'I think you might be pregnant', and everyone just froze, I didn't believe her," said Miss Yannetta.

By 4.15am, the teenager had given birth to a baby girl, weighing 7lbs 10oz, who she has named Grace.

Mr Burns, 18, who had a relationship with Miss Yannetta last year, said: "I woke up on the Sunday morning and saw that Rachael sent me a picture message of a baby.

"I replied, asking 'who's this?' and she said 'it's our daughter'. I thought it was a wind-up but it turned out to be real.

"I had mixed emotions because I was so shocked, but at the same time she's amazing, and I'm looking forward to being her dad. I've told Rachael I will always be there for Grace."

Friday, March 13, 2009

He who dares swims: The man who cools off with lions

When Kevin Richardson decided to cool off in the sweltering South African heat he was joined by an unlikely swimming partner - a giant lioness.

But before you fear a massacre, don't because these two are friends.

Zoologist and animal behaviourist Kevin, 34, raises and interacts some of the most dangerous animals known to man.

With his unusual methods, Kevin has developed some exceptionally personal bonds with his students, playing, sleeping and even swimming with animals.

Taking a well deserved swim in the Crocodile River, just south of the Magaliesburg mountains, Kevin was joined by Meg the lioness.

Weighing a staggering 185 kg this boisterous tawny lioness playfully splashed around with the experienced behaviourist.

'We went swimming purely for Meg's enrichment,' Kevin said.

'That's one of the reasons I believe my animals are so relaxed. They live very enriched lives.

'Those who like it go for swims, others go for walks in the greater area and others just prefer to go and chill under a tree in the middle of the park.'

Meg, seven, and her sister Amy, live in The Kingdom of the White Lion, near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Lions, hyenas and leopards reside in the 650 hectare area not too far from the banks of the river.

The Kingdom of the White Lion help to fund predator research in Botswana and are actively involved in creating awareness around the globe.

Kevin, who has been involved in countless documentaries and has just finished working on a new film about white lions, works to create awareness and being active in lion conservation.

With lion numbers in the wild dropping from around 350,000 animals to 25-30,000 animals over a period of 15 years, the statistics paint a grim picture.

However Kevin"s unusual work with these magnificent animals has captured the imagination.

'People are always amazed that she doesn't rip me to pieces with her claws,' Kevin said.

'I assure you every now and again I get a claw going into me. It's unintentional and just reconfirms to me how gentle and in control she tries to be.

'She gets like an excited dog going for a ride in a car. She takes no coaxing to get her to swim.

'You get in and start swimming and the next thing you know there's a full grown lioness beside you doing doggy....umm I mean.... lion paddle towards you.'


13-year-old caught driving 85 mph

TAUPIRI, New Zealand, March 9 (UPI) -- A 13-year-old boy was caught driving almost 85 mph while his father slept in the passenger's seat, officials in New Zealand said.

The Dominion Post reported Monday that the boy told police he thought he was going the speed limit as he traveled Friday on State Highway 1B near Taupiri.

His father has been charged with aiding and abetting an unlicensed driver.

The newspaper said the pair were returning home from a school camp but an onset of gout had made the father's foot too sore for him to drive.

"He tried to pass himself off as his older brother but slipped up trying to spell the brother's middle name," an official said. "And he thought he was traveling at the appropriate speed but admitted he didn't know what that was."


Russian 'best job in the world' candidate Julia Yalovitsyna in porn scandal

By Kate Schneider

TOURISM Queensland is investigating claims that a front-runner in their "best job in the world" campaign is involved in a porn scandal.

The tourism body launched the investigation amid revelations in The Sun that the competition's second most-rated contestant, Russian Julia Yalovitsyna, allegedly worked as as model for an illegal online porn studio and coached women for sexually explicit films.

Her husband has also been accused of spreading pornography and a case is being brought against him by Moscow police.

Mrs Yalovitsyna’s computer was seized by police as part of the investigation and contained some of the materials included in the criminal case.

The island “dream job” candidate has been linked to a chain of erotic studios under police investigation in her home city of Petrazavodsk, Russian news website Pravda reported.
Related Coverage

A spokesperson from Tourism Queensland said it was taking the matter seriously.

"Tourism Queensland is aware of the claims against Best Job in the World Top 50 applicant Julia from Russia which have been made in overseas media," the spokesperson said.

"We are taking the claims made in the media seriously and are currently investigating the matter. Tourism Queensland will decide on a course of action once we have accurate information."

Mrs Yalovitsyna has rejected the claims and said she was never an online porn model.

“I am shocked! This is not true! I have nothing to do with that!” Mrs Yalovitsyna, 29, told Pravda.

“There were photographs, but do they change anything? I am not 18 after all. Those images have never appeared on the internet and I have never worked as an online model,” she said.

However she acknowledged that her husband, Aleksei Yalovitsyna, was involved in the criminal case.

“Yes, at the moment my husband is accused of spreading pornography. But we plan to win this case. The investigation has no proof. It is absolutely concocted and my personal life is nobody’s business but of my husband’s and my own,” she told The Sun.

A qualified marine biologist, Mrs Yalovitsyna’s video entry shows her in a tiny black bikini pretending to sail, and then we are shown behind the scenes where she’s being splashed with water by a man, in front of a fan and behind a picture of a boat.

Tourism Queensland’s “best job in the world” promotional campaign competition attracted more than 34,000 applicants.

Mrs Yalovitsyna is currently in second place, thanks to votes from the public, behind a woman from Taiwan and a Canadian man in third place.

The winner will be caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef for six months.

Last male Blue Ducks fall in love

Blue Ducks are facing extinction in the UK because the only two remaining males have fallen in love.

The rare birds, named Ben and Jerry, are being kept at a bird sanctuary in West Sussex along with the sole remaining female Blue Duck, Cherry.

Keepers at the Arundel Wetland Centre had hoped that one of the drakes would mate with Cherry to ensure the species's continuance in the UK, reports The Daily Telegraph.

However, Ben and Jerry are apparently now inseparable and have no interest in the female.

Centre warden Paul Stevens said that he was disappointed but added that the two male birds make "a lovely couple".

"They stay together all the time, parading up and down their enclosure and whistling to each other as a male might do with a female he wants to mate with," he said.

Digital Spy

Pink dolphin draws in tourists to Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana


NO, you’re not seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses: This albino dolphin is pink.

The unique bottlenose - first spotted in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary in Louisiana, by boat captain Erik Rue, 42, in 2007 - has surfaced again.

And comments from heavy-hitters including the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society suggest it’s real.

Tourists are flocking to the lake in hopes of seeing the rare mammal.

Mr Rue said “Pinky” “looks like it just came out of a paint booth”.

"I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter,” he told London’s Telegraph newspaper.

"It was absolutely stunningly pink.

"I had never seen anything like it. It's the same color throughout the whole body.”

Saltwater crocodile eats shark with one gulp

By Sally McDonald

THERE could only ever be one winner in this battle between a 4.5m saltwater crocodile and a bite-size shark.
The croc went head-to-head with the shark last week only metres from a boatload of surprised fishermen.

Craig Van Lawick was aboard the commercial barramundi vessel on the Wildman River 100km east of Darwin when the croc started devouring the one-metre shark, The Northern Territory News reports.

"There was not a whole lot of sound," he said.

"All we could hear was the crunching sound."

Is this the world's only pink dolphin?

Mr Van Lawick was unsure about the type of shark involved and said it was eaten too quickly to work it out.

Luckily another fisherman on board, Anthony Capogreco, reached for his camera and captured the animals in their brief but dramatic battle.

KFC stores at Hurstville and Miranda fined $73,000 for poor hygiene, Australia


TWO KFC restaurants in Sydney have been fined over $73,000 for poor hygiene.
The operator of the fast food outlets in the southern suburbs of Hurstville and Miranda, QSR , was convicted of 11 charges of breaching food hygiene laws, NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said.

"Acting on a complaint made to the authority, inspectors found serious cleanliness and pest problems in both stores from May 2007 to February 2008," Mr Macdonald said in a statement today.

"Restaurant management was warned to rectify poor hygiene standards at both restaurants on several earlier inspections, but those cautions were ignored."

At the Miranda store, inspectors found a build up of grease, food and debris on kitchen equipment as well as dirty food storage and preparation areas, walls, ceilings and floors.

The authority ordered the store closed in June 2007 after an improvement notice was ignored.

At the Hurstville store, inspectors found evidence of pests and extensive cleanliness problems in the food preparation area.

"Clearly this is not a minor or isolated incident, and the (Chief Industrial Magistrate's) Court took the view the defendant failed to fix problems identified before," Mr Macdonald said.

QSR was fined $73,125 and ordered to pay $14,000 court and legal costs.

"This case is a textbook example of how consumers play a vital role in helping police food safety standards. Complaints are taken seriously and acted on swiftly," Mr Macdonald said.

Members of the public can report suspected violations of food safety laws to their local council or on the Food Authority Helpline on 1300 552 406.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Robot teacher launched in Japan

Source: Ananova

Pupils in Japan have been given lessons by the world's first robot teacher.

The humanoid named Saya is multilingual, can do roll calls and set tasks from text books, according to The Sun.

'She' has a latex face, modelled on a university student, controlled by 18 motors to create expressions including happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, sadness and even anger.

Saya will start teaching full-time after passing a trial term at a Tokyo primary.

Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi, had been working on the robot for 15 years.

The original, named Pikarin, had a metal head with exposed wires and levers.

Room for one more on top? How to get a seat in rush hour

Source: Daily Mail

Room for one more at the back?

Only if you can push your way into the throng of 100 or so workers on a journey home from work which makes commuting on Britain's much-maligned transport network seem like luxury.

Shoehorned onto the back of a lorry, they are crossing the Sahara Desert in temperatures of up to 35c in the shade. The hellish trip can last two to three weeks.

This is the way an army of migrant workers from some of Africa's poorest states get home from oil-rich Libya.

The lorries follow ancient spice caravan routes over hundreds of miles to Niger and Mali, braving dust storms and giant potholes.

The workers, who do menial jobs shunned by Libyans, have some time with their families - then their desert commute starts all over again.

English Channel water sold as blocked nose cure

Source: Ananova

Water from the English Channel is being bottled and sold as a remedy for blocked noses in the US.

Pharmaceutical experts are charging £10 for the water from a busy shipping lane off the coast of Saint Malo.

Drugs company Shering-Plough says its Afrin PureSea Hydrating Nasal Rinse is 'the only nasal rinse product made of 100% purified seawater'.

Shering-Plough says the water has been proven to clear mucus and help people breathe more easily.

A spokesman for the French company Goeman, which extracts the water, told the Mail that the water was collected several kilometres off the coast for purity and had to meet strict quality controls.

Patient Clings to Life With Two Beating Hearts in His Body

Fox News

A brave Brazilian man is fighting for his life — with two beating hearts inside his body.

The unnamed 53-year-old is in a stable condition after a 12-hour operation.

But doctors at Sao Paulo's Heart Institute fear he only has a 50 percent chance of surviving.

The patient has suffered severe lung hypertension that stopped his heart pumping blood around his body.

So he was given the new donor organ to prop up his own heart.

The "new" heart was placed on the right side of his chest and is linked to his original heart by a vein, arteries of the lung and the aorta.

"This is not a routine transplant, the situation is exceptional," Surgeon Alfredo Fiorelli, who carried out the transplant, said. "The next 72 hours will be fundamental to evaluate his state."

"One heart would not be capable of pumping enough blood to the whole body since the patient's lungs were damaged.

"The traditional transplant would not be recommended and the only alternative was placing a second heart besides the original one as an aide."

He added: "The patient will be kept alive in an artificial state for two months. Without this operation, the patient's chances of survival were unlikely.

15-inch whale shark rescued in Sorsogon

Source: Inquirer.net
By Katherine Adraneda
Updated March 10, 2009 12:00 AM

A marine conservation officer holds a baby whale shark, which was found with a rope on its tail tied to a stick in Pilar town, Sorsogon. WWF

MANILA, Philippines - A 15-inch whale shark, locally known as butanding, has been found in Sorsogon.

Conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-Philippines) reported yesterday that the rescue of what could be the smallest whale shark in the country, and perhaps in the world, might lead to answers to the mystery of where the sea creatures breed.

According to the WWF, the baby whale shark was caught last Friday in nearby San Antonio, a barangay of Pilar town, adjacent to Donsol in Sorsogon and was allegedly about to be sold.

A Butanding Interaction Officer (BOI) from Donsol town identified as Embet Guadamor alerted the municipal agricultural officer as well as WWF’s project leader in Donsol, Elson Aca, as soon as he received the information Saturday morning.

“A veteran of several years of fieldwork, including a multi-year stint with humpback whales in the Babuyan Islands, Elson (Aca) knew instinctively what to do. Now in stranding response mode, he grabbed his camera, cell phone and a copy of Fisheries Administrative Order 193, protecting whale sharks, and rushed to the Tourism Office,” related Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, vice-chairman and CEO of WWF-Philippines.

A team consisting of the tourism officer, agricultural officer, BIO, and Aca quickly drew up an operational plan to rescue the small whale shark, which WWF-Philippines christened the “Million Dollar Baby” for its significance and rarity.

They found the whale shark with a rope around its tail tied to a stick stuck into the sand.

The team freed the shark and checked to see that the animal was unhurt. They then documented the discovery and measured the shark, which was 15 inches from tip to tail. They put the whale shark in a large plastic bag with water to allow it to swim freely in preparation for release.

About three hours later, the team boarded a banca and took it out to deep water, where it was less likely to get entangled in a fish net, and set it free.

Tan said many researches have been done worldwide on whale sharks, but to date, no one knows where the whale sharks breed or give birth.

Tan noted that the whale shark rescued in Pilar town last Saturday was so small that “it was probably born (there) and could have been what biologists call a neo-nate.”

“Not only is this animal the smallest live whale shark on record ever to be captured and released here in the Philippines, it is also the first indication that the Philippines, at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is probably one of the places on the planet where these giants of the sea are born,” Tan pointed out.

“For many years, scientists thought that Donsol was merely one of many ‘gas stations’ along the global network of marine highways where whale sharks cruised. This new discovery is the first ever indication that this coastline may actually be a birthing site. This comes as no surprise. After all, this happened in the Coral Triangle – the nursery of the seas – where life begins, and many things remain possible,” he added.

The dolphin who made friends with a curious tiger


They would never meet in the wild.

So perhaps it's natural that when their paths did cross, both were curious.

This young tiger and dolphin were mutually fascinated as they stared at each other through the glass of the tank at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California.

The pair examined each other from all angles possible - then Mavrick the dolphin blew an approving bout of bubbles at Akaasha, the Bengal tiger.

Staff were taking Akaasha, who is a six-month-old female tiger cub, on her daily walk around the theme park when she noticed Mavrick, who is a 14-month-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin yesterday.

Mavrick cocked his head as Akaasha strained to get closer to the glass, perhaps bewildered as to why she could not catch the scent of this strange new creature grinning at her from another world.

It may be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Mobile phones banned from schools

Source: Reuters

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - The Central Asian state of Tajikistan on Tuesday banned mobile phones from all schools and universities in a bid to boost education.

"This measure has been taken in order to improve the quality of teaching at schools," deputy Dodikhudo Saimutdinov said after a vote in parliament.

Offenders, including those who carry phones without using them, will be fined.

Although Tajikistan is considered Central Asia's poorest nation, 3.2 million out of 7 million Tajiks use mobiles.

President Imomali Rakhmon has earlier introduced uniforms at schools and universities and barred students from going to schools in their own cars.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pink dolphin appears in US lake

New Source: Telegraph

The world's only pink Bottlenose dolphin which was discovered in an inland lake in Louisiana, USA, has become such an attraction that conservationists have warned tourists to leave it alone.

Pinky the rare albino dolphin has been spotted in Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana, USA Photo: CATERS NEWS

Charter boat captain Erik Rue, 42, photographed the animal, which is actually an albino, when he began studying it after the mammal first surfaced in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary, north of the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern USA.

Capt Rue originally saw the dolphin, which also has reddish eyes, swimming with a pod of four other dolphins, with one appearing to be its mother which never left its side.

He said: "I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter.

"It was absolutely stunningly pink.

"I had never seen anything like it. It's the same color throughout the whole body and it looks like it just came out of a paint booth.

"The dolphin appears to be healthy and normal other than its coloration, which is quite beautiful and stunningly pink.

"The mammal is entirely pink from tip to tail and has reddish eyes indicating it's albinism. The
skin appears smooth, glossy pink and without flaws.

"I have personally spotted the pink dolphin 40 to 50 times in the time since the original sighting as it has apparently taken up residence with its family in the Calcasieu ship channel.

"As time has passed the young mammal has grown and sometimes ventures away from its mother to feed and play but always remains in the vicinity of the pod.

"Surprisingly, it does not appear to be drastically affected by the environment or sunlight as might be expected considering its condition, although it tends to remain below the surface a little more than the others in the pod."

Regina Asmutis-Silvia, senior biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: "I have never seen a dolphin coloured in this way in all my career.

"It is a truly beautiful dolphin but people should be careful, as with any dolphins, to respect it - observe from a distance, limit their time watching, don't chase or harass it

"While this animal looks pink, it is an albino which you can notice in the pink eyes.

"Albinism is a genetic trait and it unclear as to the type of albinism this animal inherited."
A close relation of dolphins, the Amazon River Botos, called pink dolphins, live in South America in the Amazon.

Parrots help mute man speak again


DAMASCUS, Md., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A former firefighter in Maryland rendered mute by a car accident says a pair of talkative pet parrots helped him regain his speech.

Brian Wilson of Damascus, Md., gives credit to the birds for their determination to keep talking to him, eventually prompting his damaged brain to respond in kind. In gratitude, Wilson says he has since rescued about 80 exotic birds, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Head injuries suffered in the accident 14 years ago caused doctors to say he would never speak beyond the level of a 2-year-old, the British newspaper said. But now Wilson says his pets "just kept talking to me and talking to me. Then all of a sudden, a word popped out, then two, then more."

The Telegraph said snow-white cockatoos, scarlet, blue and green macaws and African gray parrots now share Wilson's home. He has also reportedly set up the Wilson Parrot Foundation, which supplies the bird as entertainment at birthday parties and company events.

She trades kids for bird and cash


SHE traded two young children in her care for a pet cockatoo and US$175 ($270) cash from a couple who had been trying for a child for years.

The Louisiana authorities in the US said on Thursday that Donna Greenwell, 53, a long-haul trucker with an arrest record, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The would-be adoptive parents Paul Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, were also charged.

The children were left with Greenwell over a year ago by their mother.

'The Romeros had good intentions from what we see,' said Mr Keith Dupre, a detective with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office.

'They really wanted to take care of the kids. The kids were well-dressed and seemed to be treated well by the Romero family.'

The transaction for the 5-year-old boy and the 4-year-old girl was negotiated by phone after Greenwell spotted a flier posted at a livestock barn offering a cockatoo for US$1,500. She then called the Romeros on 18 Feb, Mr Dupre said.

Although Paul Romero had three children from a previous marriage, Mr Dupre said the couple had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child together.

Sexually abused?

When they told Greenwell that, she allegedly offered to hand over the children for about US$2,000.

When the Romeros said they couldn't meet the price, Mr Dupre said: 'Ms Greenwell agreed to make an even trade: the bird for the kids'.

Greenwell showed up with the children at the Romeros' home the next day and said she would also need US$175 for an attorney to complete adoption paperwork, Mr Dupre said.

Everything began to unravel last week when the authorities received a phone tip that the Romeros and the children would be at a local fast-food restaurant, where the authorities approached them.

The children are now in state custody.

The authorities believe Greenwell began caring for the children about a year ago at the mother's request. The children's father was questioned and has expressed interest in getting custody of the children.

The mother is believed to be in Texas but told investigators through a relative that she plans to head to Evangeline Parish soon. The state would decide whether the parents can visit or gain custody of the children.

The authorities are checking a claim made to a police officer by the children that they have been sexually and physically abused, although not by Greenwell or the Romeros.

The Romeros were freed on US$5,000 bond.

Greenwell, who has an extensive arrest record including charges of kidnapping, assault and theft, remained in jail on US$100,000 bond, Mr Dupre said.

She turned herself in on Sunday.

Police in Glenmora, near where Greenwell lives, are seeking information from anyone who might know if Greenwell has sold other children.

'She's had numerous children living with her at various times over the years,' said Officer Jennifer Potter, who received the anonymous telephone tip that eventually led to the arrests. -- AP.

Missing mobile found inside fish

Source: Ananova

A businessman who lost his mobile phone on a beach was amazed when it turned up - in the belly of a giant cod.

Andrew Cheatle thought it had been swept out to sea after it slipped from his pocket.

But a week later his girlfriend's mobile rang and it was fisherman Glen Kerley saying he'd found the phone in a 25lb fish, reports The Sun.

Andrew got the handset back, dried it out - and amazingly it still works.

Andrew, 45, said: "I was messing about with my dog and my phone must have fallen out and been swept out in the swell. I kept calling it but I gave up hope after a couple of days."

He was shopping for a new phone with girlfriend Rita Smith, 33, when her mobile went off.

She told him: "Your old mobile number is calling my phone."

Andrew continued: "She said some guy was going on about my phone and a cod so she handed it over to me and he told me where he had found it.

"I thought he was winding me up but he assured me he had caught a cod that morning and was gutting it for his fish stall and that my Nokia was inside it - a bit worse for wear."

Glen, of Worthing, West Sussex, said: "Cod are greedy fish - they'll eat anything. They have big heads and big mouths.

"I've found plastic cups, stones, teaspoons, batteries and I've also heard of someone finding false teeth in one.

"It was a bit smelly but I was glad to return it."

The pregnant mother with cancer who refused chemotherapy to save her twins... and survived


Against all odds: Rachel Crossland with her four-month-old twins Saffron, left, and Poppy

Just hours before surgery to remove an aggressive tumour, Rachel Crossland was given the bittersweet news that she was pregnant with twins.

'I was devastated,' said Mrs Crossland. 'Before, I was only really worried about my life. We really wanted to keep them, but didn't know we would be able to.'

Doctors told her the tumour on her bladder was the size of a golf ball, and after surgery she would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

She said: 'The doctors told me lots of horror stories of what would happen to the babies if I had the treatment while pregnant and I was mortified.

'By then I was 13 weeks into my pregnancy and there was no way I could deal with getting rid of my babies and having to then fight cancer. That was the turning point and I decided I would take a chance.'

So the 29-year-old refused chemotherapy and radiotherapy in case it harmed her unborn children.

Her greatest concern was that her husband Adam might have to raise her older children - Jake, 12, twins Abigail and Bethany, 11, and four-year-old Fleur - on his own.

'There was always a chance at the back of my mind that we might not all make it and I had made the wrong choice,' she said.

'At one point I thought that if I died and the twins survived, I would be leaving Adam in an impossible position trying to bring up all our children.'

In the end, surgeons at the Whiston Hospital in Liverpool operated on her with just a spinal anaesthetic. After the operation, Mrs Crossland, from Wigan, suffered sickness and fatigue, not knowing whether the symptoms were due to the cancer or being pregnant.

At 32 weeks, she became so ill that she was admitted to hospital. A fortnight later, she needed an emergency caesarean because the twins had moved into a dangerous position.

Mrs Crossland's lung collapsed while she was in labour and she had to give birth under general anaesthetic. She came round in intensive care and was unable to see her babies Poppy and Saffron, who weighed just 5lb each, until the following day.

Mrs Crossland said: 'I was heartbroken when I couldn't see them.

'But eventually I realised that we were all alive and had made it against the odds. They were my little miracles.' She was released from hospital five days after the birth last November and later began chemotherapy.

She is now recovering at home with her 24-year-old husband, her four children from a previous relationship, and the new additions to their family.

She said: 'I'm so glad that we all made it and now all I want is to get on with my life with Adam and be able to look after my children.'

Monday, March 02, 2009

Teenager whose face was burnt off in aerosol explosion regains his skin... but loses all his freckles


A schoolboy who was turned into a 'human fireball' when an aerosol can exploded in his face during a camping trip has made a miraculous recovery.

Aiden Kelly suffered horrific burns when the pressurised can exploded in his face as he leaned over a campfire.

The 15 year old's hair and face were set alight leaving him covered in scabs which doctors feared would never heal.

But just weeks later his skin grew back - without his distinctive freckles.

Aiden, from Havant, Hants, said: 'I think it's turned out quite well actually.

'I really wanted to get rid of the freckles before because I didn't think they looked very good. Then I got burnt - and this was the upside to it.

'I could have ended up with a lot of scars all over my face, but now it looks as though it never even happened.'

Aiden was camping with friends in May last year when one of the group threw an aerosol onto their campfire and the pressurised can exploded in his face.

The explosion set his hair alight and caused serious burns to his face and arms.

Aiden rolled on the ground to put out the flames while one of his friends called his own father from a mobile phone.

The man took the injured boy back to his nearby home to hose him down with cold water before calling an ambulance.

Aiden spent eight days at the specialist burns unit in Salisbury District Hospital, Wiltshire after the horrific incident.

His worried mother Geraldine Kelly arrived just as her son was being helped into the ambulance.

The 40 year mother of two said: 'After it happened it looked like all his flesh was falling off. It was absolutely horrendous, he didn't have any skin left on his nose.

'Some of the burns were quite deep and we thought he would be permanently scarred.

'Aiden was in terrible pain and they had to give him plenty of morphine at hospital so he could cope.

'Thankfully he didn't have to have skin grafts - he was really lucky.'

She said that over time his burns just peeled off and he moulted like a snake.

'Now he's absolutely fine. He's even lost his freckles which he is really pleased about,' Mrs Kelly said.

For the past six months the teenager has followed a strict regime to help his skin grow back, including daily applications of special ointments and avoiding sun exposure.

Worm causes computer crash

Source: Ananova

A Somerset man suspected a worm virus when his computer crashed - but was shocked to learn the problem was a real wom.

Mark Taylor called out an IT repairmen who found a five inch earthworm inside his laptop, reports the Daily Telegraph.

It had crawled into his computer through an air vent and wrapped itself around the internal fan, leading to a total breakdown.

Mr Taylor, 45, suspects the culprits were his two cats who are in the habit of pouncing on earthworms outside and bringing them into the house.

Mr Taylor, from Yeovil, said: "The worm was obviously looking for a hiding place and must have crawled in through the air vent to get away from the cats.

"I couldn't help thinking that people get computer worms all the time, but not real life ones."

Computer technician Sam Robinson, 28, who discovered the worm said: "I took the back off and had a look inside. Then I spotted what at first I thought was some sort of hair band or elastic band wrapped around the fan.

"I soon discovered that it was a worm which had been burned to a frazzle. It had obviously wrapped around the fan when somebody had turned on the computer and caused the breakdown due to the fan jamming.

"Needless to say I hadn't come across a problem like this before but was happy to sort it out for Mark."

On the rat-walk: Rodent strikes a pose for budding fashion photographer


Rats are not exactly known for looking adorable, but this one is doing a pretty good job.

These pictures were taken by 18-year-old Jessica Florence, and have made pet rat 'Bug' into an internet sensation.

The images of Bug have become almost as searched for as those of any movie heart-throb, winning over even the sceptical with what one blogger calls their 'disgustingly cute' poses, and Jessica has been deluged with emails from fellow rat fanciers and fans

But not everyone is quite so keen on the idea of a pet rat. Jessica's parents, Steve, an engineer, and Karen, for a start.

'They took a bit of persuading when I first told them I'd like a rat,' she admits.

'I saw someone with one on television when I was about 13 and decided I wanted one too. And as soon as I got my first, they fell in love as much as I did.'

Jessica is adamant that rats are lovely to have around the house.

'Much less smelly than mice,' she says firmly from her home in Portsmouth.

'Less smelly than my dog as well. Rats are friendly, and they're smart. Bug is potty-trained. She knows her name so she comes running over to me when I call her. She knows the rattle of a treat box.

'She also recognises my mum's voice and because my mum feeds her she goes crazy whenever she hears her. She gets excited when she sees me as well. She stands up in her cage and waves her hands at me.'

Her hands? Shouldn't that be paws? Never mind. If these photographs are anything to go by, Bug is also something of a rodent Kate Moss, keen to show off her charms.

'Actually,' says Jessica, 'it's easier to get her in the right position than you'd think. I just wait until it's late at night and she's really sleepy so can't be bothered to scurry away. Then I just follow her round with my camera until I get a good shot.'

Apparently her age - she is now three, which is quite advanced in rat years - helps because, 'she's quite dopey now compared to when she was younger. She spends a lot of time just pottering around my bedroom.'

For Jessica, this all started when, aged 16, she became interested in photography, was given a Nikon D40 camera for Christmas and set about teaching herself.

She uses three lenses and recently treated herself to a speed-light, 'which means I don't have to wait to photograph Bug in natural light, so it makes things a lot easier.'

Jessica soon found that not only did it please her to record her beloved rat in pixels, others loved the photos, too.

'They seemed to get popular, which gave me more motivation to take more,' she says.

'The picture people love most is the one of her lying on her back snuggling up to a teddy bear. It's had over 100,000 hits since I posted it online.'

Like all Jessica's photos - which feature Bug variously peeking out from beneath bedcovers, nestled in the lap of a teddy bear or taking a drink from a bottle of Dr Pepper - it's beautifully and impressively shot.

Man finds lost mobile phone inside fish


A man has been reunited with his missing mobile phone after it turned up in the belly of a cod.

Businessman Andrew Cheatle thought that he had lost the phone for good after it slipped out of his pocket while he was walking his dog on a beach in West Sussex.

However, one week later he received a call from fisherman Glen Kerley saying that he had retrieved the Nokia handset from the stomach of a 25lb cod.

Speaking to The Sun, Cheatle said: "I thought he was winding me up but he assured me he had caught a cod that morning and was gutting it for his fish stall and that my Nokia was inside it - a bit worse for wear.

"I didn’t believe him but went to meet him and found it was my phone - a bit smelly and battered - but incredibly it still worked after I let it dry out.

"It was working but it kept playing up so I had to get the circuit board changed in the end. But now it’s fine. I know it sounds a fishy tale but it is 100% true."

Kerley admitted that he was not surprised by his find, saying: "Cod are greedy fish - they’ll eat anything. They have big heads and big mouths. I’ve found plastic cups, stones, teaspoons, batteries and I’ve also heard of someone finding false teeth in one."

Girl in Oscar film became a prostitute


DON'T let Slumdog Millionaire mislead you into thinking that there are fairy-tale endings for most of India's street children.

At least two with such street experience - one a journalist who was from the slums, and the other an Oscar-winner turned prostitute - feel this way.

Newsweek journalist Sudip Mazumdar, who revisited the slum district of Tangra where he spent his childhood years more than 35 years ago, said little has changed - save for a few more colour television sets in some huts.

In a column in this week's edition, he said: 'People keep praising the film's 'realistic' depiction of slum life in India.

'But it's no such thing. Slum life is a cage. It robs you of confidence in the face of the rich and the advantaged.

'It steals your pride, deadens your ambition, limits your imagination and psychologically cripples you whenever you step outside the comfort zone of your own neighbourhood. Most people in the slums never achieve a fairy-tale ending.'

He was lucky enough to be given his first break by a local newspaper publisher who hired him as a copy boy and proofreader.

Not so lucky

But Preeti Mukherjee was not so lucky.

She tasted success at the Oscars but slipped into vice a year later, reported Times of India.

In 2005, Preeti was one of nine children who were part of the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels, directed by Ms Zana Briski.

The film won 20 international awards.

Now, Preeti, who goes by the name Puja, works in Asia's largest red light district, Sonagachhi.

She got sucked into the sex trade just a year after her brush with the Oscars. She was barely in her teens.

'It seems like a fairy tale now. I still see it in my dreams. I get goosebumps when I remember the heart-stopping moment when the award was announced.

'All of us kept screaming with joy. Zana aunty made sure we, too, went along to collect the statuette.

'My head was swimming, there were so many eyes on us, the deafening applause, so many cameras flashing...' Preeti recalled.

While the children were in Los Angeles, Ms Briski and others tried their best to help them lead new lives.

Preeti, who was in high school then, and the rest, got an offer to stay back in the US and study. Some did. She backed out.

'Aunty (Zana) gave a lot of money by cheque to my mother and asked her to release me, but she was unwilling.

'I am a girl and an only child, and my mother wouldn't let go. Call it family pressure if you will. It's quite simple, really,' Preeti said, with a dismissive shrug and a short laugh.

'So, you see me here.'

Still in touch

Abhijit, one of the kids in the film, now studies in New York University. Another girl goes to school in the same city. Preeti is in touch with both of them.

Two others are studying at Future Hope, run by a charitable trust. One is married while another, who was with an internationally funded non-governmental organisation, has disappeared.

Dressed in jeans and a trendy shirt, Preeti could pass for any other college student, until the whiff of smoke and alcohol in her breath hits you.

She is adamant about staying in the sex-trade.

'At this age, I have a flat, a laptop, costly phones and plenty of money. What do I lack?' she asked.

'Zana aunty and I are in touch by e-mail. She was upset that I, too, had joined the trade like my mother, something she wanted to save me from.

'But this trade has really paid off for me.'

A sign of her 'prosperity' - she has rented rooms in Prem Kamal, one of the most expensive Sonagachhi buildings.

Mother Rakhi lives in the opposite building.

Preeti pays for her living expenses.

Ms Rakhi says she wanted a 'normal' life for Preeti. She still has a fading photo of Preeti with the Oscar statuette stuck on a wall.

'That is all I have left of her...' she said, tears in her eyes.

There is no clear answer as to how and why Preeti became a sex worker. Police records say she was rescued from a sex syndicate while a minor and sent to a juvenile home.

She was later handed to her mother by the state child welfare committee.

Police say she's now part of a major sex syndicate that involves extremely powerful people and it is very unlikely they will let her go even if she wants to.