animals: May 2010 Archives

275x250.jpgA Kookaburra which was addicted to sausages has been taken to a zoo for rehabilitation after it was attacked by a dog -- because it was too fat to fly.

The bulky bird was found at a park in Mosman, Australia, running along the floor as it was being chased by a group of dogs.

Initially it was thought the bird had a broken wing and couldn't get away because of the injury -- but then experts found it was just too fat to fly.

They claim the 545g bird piled on the pounds - to 40% heavier than the typical Kookaburra - after eating sausages fed to it by barbecuing park-goers.

While a Kookaburra would normally feast on lizards and small rodents eating too much from a BBQ can be bad for them… which means more for us.

275x250.jpgAn Icelandic political party has won elections in Reykjavik -- by running a campaign based on free towels at all swimming pools.

The 'Best' party - which secured 34.7% of the municipal election vote - also pledged to get a new polar bear for the local zoo.

This will mean they will now hold six seats on the 15-member city council - more than the Independence Party's which got 33.6 percent of the vote.

Other key pledges they made included a "drug-free" parliament by 2020 and the addition of a Disneyland at the airport.

Established only six months ago by comedian Jon Gnarr, few had expected the party to do well, including some of those standing… who now have to find a polar bear.

275x250.jpgBosses at a dinosaur park in Wales say they are so strapped for space they are trying to give away a 30ft replica Brontosaurus, for free.

And while the long-necked dinosaur is being offered gratis, there it a catch, you have to collect it and get it home yourself.

Which is easier said than done given the faux Brontosaurus - said to be worth around £20,000 - weights two-and-half-tonnes, and is massive.

It's suggested Bronto would make an ideal gift for a dino-mad youngster (with a big garden) or that he could be used as a mascot for a football or rugby team.

If we had room we'd certainly want him, if only to see the face of our postman when he read the "beware of the dinosaur" sign and saw a green head sticking out from the bushes.

275x250.jpgResearchers have discovered some sharks can become invisible to their prey by creating an odd optical illusion.

Emitting light from their body, by regulating the photophores underneath the body, the sharks are able to match the light from the sun.

According to researchers from the University of Louvain, this means the already efficient killers don't stand out as silhouettes to their prey - making them even more deadly.

Lead researcher Julien Claes says that about 10 percent of known sharks are able to glow, and that this could also be used to attract a mate.

We've always worried about being attacked by a shark… but after hearing this will now be glancing even more nervously around the bathroom before getting into the tub.

275x250.jpgIt's a well known fact that smoking is bad for you, but these Blue Tits would disagree -- it's help them find a new home.

A pair of birds have set up home in an outdoor ashtray at a Tyneside business park, much to the surprise of workers.

Initially smokers were miffed when they spotted the ashtray had been hijacked, but now they've started downing tools during feeding time to watch the bird fly in and out.

However they will have to find another ashtray to use, this one now has a note on it saying "Please don't use - birds inside!"

A spokesperson for Oceana Business Park said: "We have yet to negotiate a rent for Mr and Mrs Blue Tit but I think for this occasion we can come to some sort of special arrangement."

275x250.jpgChicks are never known for their great size, but visitors to a UK zoo have been amazed by just how tiny a clutch of quail are.

Staff at Twycross Zoo say people cannot believe the size of their latest chicks - some of which are no bigger than a 2 pence piece.

After being abandoned by their mother, staff hatched the ten eggs by keeping them in a special incubator.

When the tiny (and very cute) chicks finally emerged, they were checked over by experts who became stand in mothers.

They were then put under a heat lamp where they can be seen by visitors -- most of who will never eat quail again.

275x250.jpgFish get scared by looking at their own reflection and  try to fight themselves in a mirror, biologists have discovered.

Researchers compared the behaviour and brain activity of fish during one-on-one encounters with a mirror and another male of about the same size.

The team from Stanford University found male African cichlid were scared when they saw their reflection, and that this fear increased when they realised it was making the same movements as them.

It's said this means fish are actually smarter than most people give them credit for and their brains work in much the same way as humans.

I think we all know someone who gets confused by their own reflection and will pick a fight with it -- especially after a few drinks on a Friday night.

275x250.jpgAnimals have been showing off their terrorism fighting skills after being trained by the US Navy.

Demonstrations organised as part of a recent anti-terrorism preparedness day in California included things like a dolphin locating a faux terrorist in murky water.

But that seems almost ordinary compared to the sea lion which then proceeded to cuff the terrorist's ankles so authorities could reel him in.

The homeland security and disaster preparedness exercises also included a fake attack on a container ship and a simulated bomb explosion.

The US Navy Marine Mammal Program is several decades old and sees the creatures trained to do things like detect and clear mines… all for fish.

275x250.jpgThe Obama's Portuguese water dog Bo cost $1,600, it has been revealed.

But Bo - who was picked over a rescue dog - was not paid for by the Obama family and was a gift from the late Ted Kennedy and his wife, Vicki.

His price has only come to light now after it appeared on official annual financial disclosure forms, which were released yesterday.

The forms detail all personal financial interests of the President, from income from his books to his college savings plans for daughters Sasha and Malia.

Other notable income listed includes his Nobel peace prize medal, the value of which was listed as "not readily ascertainable" -- which is one way of putting it.

275x250.jpgWallabies are being sold in the UK as eco-friendly alternatives to lawnmowers.

The marsupials - which are said to be selling well - are described as being a great way of keeping the grass cut without any direct effort.

Wallaby breeder Mary Davies from West Sussex says demand is so high, she now has a waiting list of people wanting some for their gardens.

She says benefits include the face they 'work' all day and can get into areas that you would struggle to with a  lawnmower, though she admits they can't chew nice lines into your lawn.

But before you place your order, bare in mind the £300-1000 creatures have to be bought in pairs and you will need a garden of at least half an acre… and tall fence.

Ecologists in Canada have discovered a giant beaver dam which stretches 850m and can be seen from outer space -- by using Google Earth.

Jean Thie says he spotted the huge beaver dam by using Google Earth and NASA satellite technology while conducting research into melting permafrost.

He was looking at images of the country's wetlands in Alberta's Wood Buffalo National Park, when he saw the giant odd structure which can be seen from space.

Using other archive aerial photography it is predicted that rodents started construction during the 1970s and are still going… sounds like the last builders we had in.

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