animals: December 2009 Archives

275x250.jpgAustralian lifeguards will soon get text messages when Great White sharks swim near the beaches they are patrolling.

Researchers are electronically tagging the man-eating predators with GPS units which will constantly monitor their movements.

If the sharks then get too near to a beach a satellite receiver will automatically send out emails and text messages to wildlife officials and lifeguards.

Currently 74 white sharks have been tagged and there are 20 communications-equipped monitoring stations have been installed off the Perth coast.

Bosses say they hope the network will "provide timely alerts of tagged sharks' presence close to beaches" -- obviously this is unless the lifeguard is busy playing a game on his phone at the time.

275x250.jpgBen Southall - the winner of a competition for the best job in the world - has been stung by a deadly jellyfish.

The 34-year-old Brit was just days away from the end of his six month stint at "caretaker" of Hamilton Island in Queensland when he was stung by a deadly Irukandji jellyfish.

Though tiny (they measure just 2cm) the Irukandji are extremely venomous and stings can often result in people being hospitalised, and are sometimes fatal.

Ben had been on a 'hard-earned break' from his £75,000, six-month job when he was stung while jetsking.

Given that his normal duties include scuba-diving to check on marine life and writing a blog about his experiences we are finding it a bit hard to feel sorry for him.

A woman called 999 to tell police that her cat was playing with string and it was annoying her.

The odd call was revealed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to highlight the problem of nuisance 999 calls, particularly over the holiday period.

The woman called 999 over Christmas to report that her cat was playing with string and it was 'doing her head in.'

It is not known exactly how police responded, but we can guess.

Another caller over the Christmas period phoned police to say he was stuck on a patch of ice in a street in Bolton and was too scared to go forwards or backwards.

Safari-goers to use night vision goggles

275x250.jpgVisitors to a South African safari have started using military-style night vision goggles to watch animals into the night.

Bosses at Londolozi Game Lodge in South Africa are issuing tourists the equipment - normally associates with combat - to get a better look at the animals.

They say it not only allows guests to stay out longer, but also get closer to the lions, hippopotamus and buffalo than ever before.

A spokesperson for Londolozi said: "Imagine sitting in the dark with a pride of lion hunting. The lights are off but you are seeing and hearing just like the lions."

We tried imagining it... then we had to imagine changing our trousers

Russia plans to send a monkey to Mars

275x250.jpgRussian authorities have revealed plans which could see them send monkeys to Mars.

After putting mon­­­keys into orbit in 1983 the Soviets moved on to human astronauts - but now the apes could be making a return.

While space experts say while the aim is to get humans on Mars, the length of the flight and effects of cosmic rays is said to make it impossible to plan for at the moment.

As a result the Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy - which supplied apes for the programme in the 1980s - has revealed plans for a monkey Mars mission.

It is likely to start with a ground-based simulation capsule mission for 520 days… and about 1,500 bananas.

275x250.jpgAquarium bosses have been forced to lower the level of water in their tanks... because of flatulent turtles

Bosses at Sea Life Yarmouth have been forced to drain off of water from a 250,000 litre tank after giving their turtles a seasonal treat of brussel sprouts.

The turtles are said to love the taste of the vegetables - which thanks to calcium, fibre and Vitamin C are good for their shells and digestions.

But, like with humans, this has apparently caused the same embarrassing side-effect, but with an added problem, the bubbling water can trigger overflow alarms.

This means that staff would be running to the tanks every time one of the green turtles farted - not what they want to be doing on Christmas day.

275x250.jpgA member of public has called an emergency RSPCA helpline to get help for a seagull which was looking sad because it was sitting in the rain.

The daft caller expected officers to track down the gull and cheer it up - or at least find out why is was upset.

The details of the odd call have been revealed as one of the top 10 funny calls made to the charities emergency phone line over the past 12 months.

More than one million calls were made to the RSPCA line - that's one every 29 seconds - for advice on animal welfare or to report an incident of cruelty.
While the majority of the calls are of a serious nature, occasionally they range from the weird and wonderful to the downright wacky - check out the top 10 after the link.

Handbag hedgehogs become new pet craze

275x250.jpgA bizarre craze is said to be sweeping the UK where women are buying pet pygmy hedgehogs to keep in their handbags - like prickly designer dogs.

The tiny African pygmy hedgehogs which sell for £250 each, grow to just five inches long and are said to have placid temperaments making them good pets.

Many women - including some Premiership footballers' wives and girlfriends - have snapped up the pets and even take the cute creatures out in their handbags.

Experts say pygmy hedgehogs, which will eat cat food, love being handled and will sit quite happily in a handbag while their owner goes shopping.

Sounds like a must-have for every would-be Paris Hilton … hedgehog poo in her Gucci bag.

Baby Pygmy Hippo born at Colchester Zoo

275x250.jpgA UK zoo is celebrating the rare birth of baby pygmy hippo - by releasing these photos of the cute critter.

The healthy female - who has not yet been named - was born to her eight-year-old mother Venus on Friday the 27th November and has been getting on well since then.

Staff at Colchester Zoo say she has been running around the pen and settling in nicely. They will now weigh her every day to ensure that she continues to mature at a healthy rate.

Currently the pocket-sized hippopotamus weighs just 8kg but she will grow to 20 times that size... though that is still a fraction of what most hippos (and people who stay at home looking at pictures of cute animals on the internet) weigh.

Why dogs DO make better pets than cats

275x250.jpgResearchers claim they can now scientifically answer the age-old question "Which are better, dogs or cats?"

A team from New Scientist magazine looked at the various benefits of each pet across 11 traits - before coming to a considered conclusion. Dogs are better, but only by a whisker.

While cats came out top as far as factors such as brain size, popularity, noise, senses and eco-friendliness were concerned, dogs pipped them to the overall title.

The pooches were deem to be scientifically better in terms of domestication, bonding, understanding language, problem solving, training and usefulness.

While we are not going to say where we come in of the dog versus cat debate we would like to remind you (and the scientists) what great pets goldfish make?

A video of a dog free-running around a city and jumping onto walls, rails and tree, has become an (unsurprising) online hit.

In the clip - which was submitted to the Hawaii Pet Film Festival - Roxy can be seen navigating the streets of Hawaii jumping over things much like more common human free-runners.

"Unleashed" has now been watched in excess of 100,000 times with the athletic dog gaining fans all around the world.

Many commenters say they wish they could replicate some of her more elaborate jumps… though others argue her four legs give her a unfair advantage.

Anyway, at least they are sorted if they ever decide to produce a dog-based re-make of Bond movie Casino Royale.

Blue whale songs are getting deeper

275x250.jpgScientists say they are baffled by the fact that Blue whales are beginning to sing in deeper voices.

A recent study found that all around the world the world's largest mammals have changed their sounds.

The lower voices were first noticed eight years ago in California, since then experts have been getting samples from some of the 10,000 Blue whales world-wide.

All the samples showed lower voices than previously recorded, some by as much as 31 percent.

It is not known why the change is happening though some experts suggest it could be because the seas are getting noisier… others think they have just been inspired by Barry White.

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