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A giraffe in a northern Chinese zoo will soon give birth to a record number of offspring, reports said Thursday. An Dan, a 20-year-old in the Taiyuan zoo in Shanxi province, will have her seventh calf this August, a record number for a Chinese giraffe, the zoo reported, according to Xinhua. The previous record-holder was a giraffe in the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, who bore five offspring, said Wang Jianming, a zoo keeper in Taiyuan. An Dan was born in Beijing and sent to Taiyuan at the age of four. The lifespan of a giraffe is generally 30 years, while the childbearing age is normally below 20, Wang said. Two of An Dan's offspring have now found homes in zoos in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu, but the others died at a young age. The mother is reported to be in good condition.


OMMEN, Netherlands (AP) _ A glider pilot has been booted out of his aviation club for flying his plane so low its wing sliced the right ear off a grazing horse, police said. The horse was clipped June 1 during a flight competition in this eastern Dutch town, when the pilot flew too low over a field. Although the one-eared animal is recovering for now, the prognosis doesn’t look good, said police spokesman Ed Kraszewski. Ear wax is oozing out of the injured ear, which may cause infections and lead to brain damage, he said. The 30-year-old pilot, who was not identified, may have to pay compensation if the horse dies.

WILMAAAA!!!!!! (1)

A NERVOUS greyhound that kept on running after coming last in a race was last seen overtaking cars on the A35. Cavecourt Blue crossed the finishing line at Poole Stadium, Dorset, jumped a track side wall, wriggled through a gap in the perimeter fence and fled through a B&Q depot. Police received several sightings of the animal in its orange racing jacket bearing the number 5 and muzzle, as it sprinted along the A35 towards Lychett Minster. One driver reported being overtaken by the animal. But last night there was still no sign of the greyhound after a day on the run. The bitch, known as Wilma by its trainer Jo Burridge, is a relative newcomer to racing. Described as nervous, it was knocked over by another dog in her first race. Its performance in Tuesday's 450m race was true to a prediction in the betting forecast. Next to Cavecourt Blue was written: "The best is still to come". Ms Burridge, of Blandford, said: "We are very worried about her, she is very nervous of men for some reason. I was out late last night with the owner looking for her, but we have had no luck yet. She could be miles away by now, I just hope she has not come to any harm. " A police spokesman said Wilma had been "spooked" by some race spectators and panicked after crossing the finishing line. Electronic Telegraph, Thursday 4 June 1998

WILMAAAA!!!! (2)

WILMA the runaway greyhound returned to racing by recording her first win but again failed to stop at the finishing line and vaulted the wall surrounding the track. But there was no repetition of last month's escape from the same track, when she was missing for three days, because the gap in the outer fence had been repaired. The two-year-old, which races under the name Cavecourt Blue, was wearing the same orange vest when she returned to Poole Stadium, Dorset, on Tuesday evening for a race in which she was rated at 2-1 to win. After failing to find a way through the fence she jumped back on to the track. Jo Burridge, her trainer, blamed the greyhound's latest escape attempt on the other dogs in the race. She said: "All five of them appeared to go for her and it looks as if her ear has been bitten. " In her first escapade the bitch was recaptured after 75 hours, when she was seen chasing a fox. She suffered only sore foot pads during her time on the run and soon settled back into kennel, life at Blandford. UK News Electronic Telegraph 9 July 1998 Issue 1140


SAMUT PRAKARN, Thailand (Reuters) - "Yai," the world's largest captive crocodile, celebrated his 26th birthday Wednesday at a Thai zoo in the eastern outskirts of Bangkok with a special treat from his owners. They rustled up hundreds of well-wishers to witness the special day with plenty of fanfare, party poppers, decorations laced with multicoloured balloons and lots of food. His owners gave Yai a birthday meal in a basket, hand-delivered by two chimpanzees, to the repeated strains of "Happy Birthday" wafting from a tape recorder playing in the background. The meal comprised three chickens, two sharks weighing a total of 10 kg (22lb) and two ducks, which Yai devoured slowly but with plenty of relish. Yai was born in captivity in 1972 at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo.

He was listed in the 1989 Guinness Book of Records as the largest captive crocodile having grown 19 feet and eight inches long and recording a weight of 1,120 kg(2,465 pounds). After 26 years, which is young for a crocodile, Yai has changed little. But he has put on some weight. "Now he has gained about 100 kg (220 lb) more," the managing director of the zoo, Charoon Youngprapakorn, told Reuters. He said Yai had brought much prosperity to the zoo, which also houses 62,000 other crocodiles bred in captivity, and which are fed chicken meat and bones almost on a daily basis. "Yai is well-known and has brought prosperity to our farm and that is why we have given him this present and brought people to celebrate it with him," he said. About two million tourists and visitors come annually to Charoon's crocodile zoo, touted as the world's largest, to see the star attraction Yai. GET HIP(PO) TO THE TRIP(PO)

A NEWBORN hippopotamus was saved from drowning yesterday as firefighters pumped 200, 000 gallons from a safari park lake. The 50lb, 18in tall female was born early yesterday on a ledge beside the hippo lake at the West Midlands Safari Park, in Bewdley, Worcestershire. But heavy rain swamped the ledge and the baby kept wandering over the edge into deep water. The baby's mother, Bar-Bel, rescued it twice by nosing it back to the ledge, but keepers were concerned that it would drown unless the water-level was reduced below the ledge. After six hours of pumping, the baby made its way to the shallows at the edge of the lake where it collapsed, exhausted. Bob Lawrence, the keeper, said that, while the mother's back was turned, he lifted it out of the shallows with a keepnet. The baby was given oxygen and taken to the park's recovery room. "It’s still 50-50, " Mr Lawrence said last night. BBC News Online Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK


Finnish researchers Olavi Kajander and Neva Ciftcioglu says the bacteria - known as nanobacteria - float around in the blood and its fluid, serum, and are also present in kidney stones. They believe the bacteria build themselves small mineral shell homes out of a substance called apatite - which is also found in bones and teeth. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists, the researchers say: "Nanobacteria are the smallest cell-walled bacteria, only recently discovered in human and cow blood and commercial cell culture serum. The apatite shelters. . . were apparently the dwelling place of the organisms. "

They believe the nanobacteria and their homes could eventually build-up layer by layer and form kidney stones - just as a grain of sand in an oyster can form a pearl. The researchers looked at the make-up of 30 kidney stones and found the nanobacteria in all of them. They believe blood serum contains chemicals which stops the build-up of nanobacteria, but that they can be transported to the kidneys by the blood where they may build up. "Apatite may play a key role in the formation of all kidney stones, "they said. They are looking into whether nanobacteria could be behind other diseases, such as gallstones. Some scientists believe there may have been similar nanobacteria on Mars, but there are conflicting views. Those backing the nanobacteria theory say fossils have been found in meteorites on the surface of Mars which suggests their presence. The fossils suggest organisms of the same shape and size as the nanobacteria found in human blood. COCK A SNOOK

Oregon SaIem - State wildlife workers have begun tagging 6 million hatchery-grown baby snook salmon at Willamette River basin hatcheries so the fish can be distinguished from wild salmon when they return to spawn in '02. The state plans to restrict the salmon harvest to hatchery fish that year.


Delaware Lewes - The number of piping plovers - small, light brown birds with a black band around their necks - appears to be rising at Cape Henlopen State Park, where the threatened migratory birds primarily nest in Delaware. There are at least five nests compared with four in '97. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 1998 - USA TODAY


Illinois Peoria - Scientists are tracking the Asian tiger mosquito in central Illinois, fearing it may carry encephalitis, a potentially fatal illness for children. The Asian variety breeds in back yards, vacant lots and along the Illinois River. 12A - TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 19981- USA TODAY


CONWAY, Ark. (AP). The Vacuum Cleaner Hospital's mascot is missing. Someone swiped the 7-foot-tall mechanical gorilla between 9 am and 5 pm. "It was weird," said John Marshall, an employee at the vacuum repair shop. "I went out to get him and thought `Hey, what happened to my gorilla? He was gone." The gorilla could no longer wave or turn, so he was not plugged in at the time of the theft. The gorilla described in the police report as "7-feet, hairy, gorilla, mechanical" is hollow and quite light . Marshall said another gorilla was stolen from the store about 18 months ago. "I thought college kids must have taken him the last time but I'm not sure about this one," Marshall said. "He's part of the store. He's our symbol and our mascot. He was always out there."ELK!!!! I NEED SOMEBODY

Nebraska Omaha - Chronic wasting disease, an illness that affects captive elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer by attacking the animals' central nervous system, has been diagnosed for the first time in the state. The affliction is similar to mad cow disease. There is no indication the disease can spread to humans, state health officials said. USA TODAY - MAY 26, 1998


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP). A family practice physician gets inundated with ticks in his mail, of all places. But he loves it. Dr. Mike Felz of the Medical College of Georgia has used the ticks he gets in the mail to create a guide, scheduled for publication in August, that describes different species. For seven years, the bloodsuckers have arrived in jelly jars and sandwich bags, stuck to Post-It notes and in a variety of other containers. "There was an 8-year-old school child here in Augusta that had a tick the size of a pencil eraser embedded in his head," Felz said. The child-biting tick was a Dermacentor, or dog tick, the largest of the three species that inhabit the Southeast. They often hide in the hair, behind the ears or on the neck. Felz studies the ticks that bite victims have mailed in. So far, he’s gotten several thousand specimens.

"This is going to be a big year for ticks," said Daniel Rahn, chief of the section of internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. "All the rain and a mid winter without the frost leads to a big crop of ticks." On Monday alone, Felz received 20 pieces of mail that contained ticks. Ten ticks arrived on Post-It notes from a 50-year-old woman in Martinez. Fifteen came in an envelope from California. The most prevalent species in the Southeast is Amblyomma. "It prefers the lower half of the body, from the waist or the belt line down," said Felz. The third species native to the Southeast is Ixodes, which carries Lymedisease. "It has no preference," said Felz. "It seems to like all regions of the body, from the head to the toes."

Felz and Rahn also have identified what may be a new strain of Lyme disease and tracked a little-known, tick-borne disease called ehrlichiosis. "We've had people come to the center to have moles removed," Felz said. "They turned out to be ticks. We could tell because the legs were moving. But when the ticks are engorged, they look like little tumors."


FEMALE chimpanzees are more liable to become television addicts than their mates. Confronted with the small screen, males will continue to search for food or wander around while the females are only too anxious to settle down and gawp. In a two-month study at Edinburgh Zoo a group of 12 chimps were shown one of six 15-minute videos every day at the same time each morning. Within a week the four females anticipated when the TV was about to be turned on and eagerly settled down. But the males showed little interest, preferring to wander round their enclosure or scratch about the termite mound. However, after weeks of watching the same six videos even the female tele-addicts in the group began to get bored. The videos, compiled from clips of David Attenborough documentaries on chimpanzees, covered eating, playing, grooming, aggressive behaviour and mating. The juveniles enjoyed the videos on play and later appeared to copy what they had seen on the screen. But the aggressive sequences were not imitated. Dr Jim Anderson, the supervising psychologist, said that he had no idea why there was such a marked difference between the males and females, although in the wild females are more sedentary. He said: "They would squat down and relax and stare at what was going on, whereas the four males and four juveniles would watch for a few minutes, then get on with whatever they were doing. "


AZTEC, N. M. (AP) _ A Farmington man has pleaded no contest to fraud charges after being accused of bilking people out of thousands of dollars by selling "California Red Superworms" he claimed ate nuclear waste. Thomas Stanley Huntington, 52, entered his pleas Thursday to one count of third-degree fraud, five counts of fourth-degree fraud and one count of issuing a worthless check, a fourth-degree felony. Six other counts of fraud and one count each of embezzlement and racketeering were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Huntington was accused of bilking at least a dozen people out of $15, 000 be setting them worms he said would be resold to the federal government's as-yet-unopened nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad. State District Judge George Harrison ordered a pre-sentencing report before sentencing. Huntington faces up to 12 years in prison. A grand jury in March indicted Huntington on 12 counts of fraud and one count each of embezzlement and racketeering. Court records say Huntington sold the worms at four pounds for $500. He allegedly told would-be worm entrepreneurs they could use worms purchased from him as breeding stock, raise more worms, then "make big money" selling them back to him for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WIPP officials told investigators they had no contract with Huntington. "Easiest job ever!" according to a worm enterprise brochure released by the state attorney general’s office, which filed a civil complaint against Huntington earlier in the year, along with a temporary restraining order to stop him from selling more worms.


The 20th Century Fox/Saturn Films release Tom Slick: Monster Hunter, produced by and starring Nicolas Cage, is now scheduled for the year 2000. Who's Making It: Jib Polhemus (Screenwriter); Nicolas Cage, Jeff Levine, Jib Polhemus (Producers); Jorge Saralegui (Executive Producer).


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Emergency crews have rescued some 50 sea lions off the California coast in recent days after they suffered mysterious seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea, the Marine Mammal Center said Tuesday. The center said the sea lions brought in for treatment appeared to be suffering from some sort of nervous system disorder, and that about half of those rescued were responding to treatment with intravenous fluids and Valium. Sea lions have been sighted having seizures on beaches up and down the central California coast, the center said, and autopsies on dead sea lions in the same areas have turned up no obvious cause of death. Tissue samples have been sent for analysis to a number of laboratories, including those at the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. California has seen reports of mass seizures among sea lions roughly every three to five years, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. During the last wave of seizures between 1991 and 1992, preliminary analysis showed high levels of mercury in the animal`s' blood and some scientists suggested they might be linked to oil spills. However no definitive connection was made.


PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (July 2, 1998 10:39p. m. EDT http://www. - A rescue team battled a thrashing humpback whale for four hours Thursday off the coast of Cape Cod before freeing the huge creature from commercial fishing gear, officials said. "It turned out to be a little trickier than they thought, " Center for Coastal Studies spokeswoman Lynn Hiller said of the rescue. "The line (from nets) ran around the tail and through the whale's mouth. "First spotted a week ago, the humpback whale disappeared as a series of storms swept over New England, but a patrol helicopter found it again Thursday afternoon. Dr. Charles Mayo and two other researchers from the center set out in an inflatable boat and were able to attach buoys to the gear to prevent the whale from diving. It took four hours before the whale, thoroughly exhausted, allowed the scientists to cut away the tangled fishing gear. "After that it was a much happier whale, " Hiller said. "It got downright frisky. "There are about 10, 000 humpback whales in the world's oceans. The creatures, known for their complicated songs, can grow up to 50 feet(15 meters) long Reuters.


MESQUITE, Nev. (AP) — A company wants to recreate Spain's famous running of the bulls in this tiny town outside Las Vegas, but with friendlier bulls. "In Spain, the bulls are bred to chase people and kill, they’re antagonized," promoter Phil Immordino said Friday. "The bulls we're using are just range bulls. They're not looking to kill anybody. They're just looking to run down the street." If the city council approves the idea Tuesday, Immordino's Phoenix company will charge 1, 000 runners $50 each to be chased by a dozen range bulls as part of a Western festival in July. Immordino said kinder, gentler bulls would be used to soothe the town’s nerves about safety. The bulls' horns would be filed down to lessen chances of goring. Immordino also said he would build 6-foot fences along the quarter-mile route down Mesquite's main drag and include some getaway passages for runners to slip through if they run into trouble. There would be another key change from the event in Pamplona, Spain: The runners would be sober. "In Spain, most of the runners have been partying and they're drunk," Immordino said. "You've got 7, 000 people trampling over each other. In Mesquite, we'll limit the number of runners to 1, 000."

If Immordino can convince the council in Mesquite, population 10, 000, that he has covered all the safety and liability bases, the bull run would be held July 11. "My personal feeling is that it's a viable proposal, providing all the bases are covered as far as public safety," Mayor Ken Carter said. At least 13 people have been killed in the runs in Pamplona since records were begun in 1924. The Pamplona event dates to 1591, when daredevils began running alongside when the animals were being driven through town to bullfights. Ernest Hemingway described the Pamplona festival in "The Sun Also Rises." Immordino, whose company promotes bull-riding events around the country, tried to sell the bull run idea to Phoenix and Long Beach, Calif. , before turning to Mesquite. Long Beach backed out after animal rights groups protested, he said. In Phoenix, the issue was safety. The city manager of this town 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Bill Davee, called the run "kind of a novel idea." However he added: "Obviously there are many concerns about safety issues for the participants, the animals and the spectators." Electronic Telegraph Monday 25 May 1998

EDITOR`S NOTE: Later news bulletins suggested that this suggestion was not a roaring success and that people were not as enamoured of the idea as the organisers had hoped. Maybe the lack of danger (and booze) has something to do with this! When I told Graham that one of my ambitions was to emulate Hemmingway and run with the bulls at Pamplona he found the idea massively amusing and had to be consoled with a cold can of beer. He was still chuckling three hours later!


ELGIN, Ill (AP)... First it was mice scurrying around the enormous office complex where the Chicago suburbs meet remnants of farmland and prairie. Now, employees are complaining that a different pest _ a flea or other bug is biting them at their desks. Field mice have been a nuisance ever since First Card erected the first building for its credit-card processing center eight years ago at its sprawling 28-acre campus just off the Northwest Tollway. "It's really disgusting," said one worker who complained a mouse jumped onto the desk next to her just the other day. "I come home itchy just thinking about it." Lately, some of her co-workers have red bite marks on their arms, legs, necks and heads to match their irritation. Employees recently have filed more than 15 complaints with the company about bug bites.

Unlike the mice, which are seen all over the half-million-square-foot office center, the biting cases have been isolated in a small area on one floor where around 25 customer service agents work, said First Card spokesman Tom Kelly. Inexplicably, the complaints are all coming from workers on the second shift _ 3 p. m. to midnight even though some of the company's 3, 000 employees use the same cubicles at other hours of the day. Elgin Public Health Officer Paul Slaby, who did some investigating after receiving several complaints, said it is the strangest case he can recall. Mice aren't known to bite or to carry fleas. Checks of vacuum bags and sticky paper posted to catch the culprits have proven fruitless. First Card is treating the mice and the mysterious bites as two separate problems, Kelly said.

Extra mousetraps and poison have been spread throughout the building by an exterminator, and employees have been sternly warned against keeping food at their workstations. First Card also plans to contact a bug expert, Kelly said, and employees have been offered alternative work stations. No one has become ill, Kelly said.