animals: July 2010 Archives

275x250.jpgResearch into the psychological well-being of pigs has found they are capable of feeling optimistic or pessimistic about life.

Boffins from Newcastle University say the environment a pig lives in can have a massive impact on how they feel.

They came to this conclusion after devising an experiment in which pigs were split into two groups, one half in plush surroundings, the others in basic environmemnt.

Each group were then repeatedly played a note on a glockenspiel with those in the better surrounding given a treat each time, and the others something less pleasant.

Both sets were then played a new sound and those who had lived better lives expected another treat while the others shied away pessimistic about what might happen to them… like find themselves in another scientific study.

275x250.jpgA canine obesity epidemic is currently sweeping the UK with one-in-three dogs already considered overweight by vets.

Animal group the PDSA say poor diet and a lack of exercise are the main reasons for the podgy pooches.

In a study of 35,000 dogs, 35 percent were heavier than they should have been, mostly due to being given fatty foods including cheese, chips and biscuits.

If the growing trend of overly fat dogs continues, experts thin 50 percent could be overweight by 2015 with many suffering from diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

So if you think your dog could be one why not take it out for a walk now, while you still can.

275x250.jpgHolidaymakers in France are being warned to be on their guard after a group of aggressive mountain cows launched a series of ferocious attacks on tourists.

A number of visitors to the Pyrenees have recently been attacked by irate bovine, including a German man who is currently in critical condition in hospital.

A herd of cows is said the have set about the man as he walked with his wife and two children trampling and biting them.
As a result local mountain police, who say the cows "knew exactly what they were doing", have issued a warning for tourists.

It's warned holidaymakers should, under no circumstances, look the mountain cows in the eye, or approach them… even if you are out of milk for your cup of tea.

275x250.jpg Pampered pussies could soon be enjoying better holidays than their owners after a luxury hotel opened which is purr-fect for felines.

Bosses at The Luxury Cat Hotel in Hertfordshire say they pride themselves on offering cats with the ultimate holiday when their owner jets off abroad.

Each cat at the hotel gets its own luxury heated chalet which has an exercise area, themed decoration and jazz music playing via a £5,000 sound system.

There's also an‘A La Cat’ food menu which includes dishes such as fresh tuna and all come served on silver platters and bone china plates… something to think about as you sit on an EasyJet flight.

A unfortunate news presenter on Taiwanese TV suffered an asthma attack on live TV -- after choking on a mosquito.

Huang Ching had been reading the news when a rogue mosquito entered the studio and headed straight for her mouth.

Being a true professional, Ching carried on despite the bug flying into her mouth and continued to read the headlines.

But the tiny bug set off a asthmatic reaction and TV bosses were forced to cut to adverts as while Ching was given medical treatment and rushed to hospital.

Experts say she would have been fine if she'd simply spat the bug back out, but Ching said it would have been rude to do that on TV.

275x250.jpgThe world's new strongest beer has gone on sale… in controversial bottles made using the bodies of dead animals.

Brewery BrewDog's 'The End of History' beer - which has a 55% ABV and sells for £500 per bottle - is the strongest and most expensive beer in the world.

It's a blond Belgian ale infused with nettles and juniper berries to give unique taste.

But it will be the bottle which stands out for most people, they're encased in the bodies of animals which have been specially produced by a taxidermist.

Stoats, squirrels and hare have been used… and just in case it wasn't odd enough already, some of then are dressed in eccentric outfits.

275x250.jpgIt looks like a car wash, but this 'cow wash' machine is actually the latest must-have gadget for farmers wanting to boost milk production.

Designed by Swedish firm DeLaval, the swinging cow brush was created to act as a 'self grooming' device for cows to help keep themselves clean, healthier and happier.

This is because a happy cow is said to produce as much as 3.5 percent more milk and therefore be much more valuable for the farmer.

The device works by starting to rotate when a cow makes contact with it, and then spinning at a speed which is pleasurable for the cow as it moo-ves under it.

Given the success of cow wash machines - more than 30,000 have been sold - it can't be long until the cows also start getting a pre-milking pedicure and makeover.

275x250.jpgA horse called George Baker competed in a race at Leicester yesterday, ridden by a jockey called George Baker.

But the name-based oddness it doesn't end there, George Baker (the horse) was also trained by a man called George Baker... and is owned by another Mr George Baker.

And amazingly, all four George Bakers are different people. George Baker (the horse) was initially named by owner Harry Findlay as a joke because he wanted to send it to George Baker (the trainer).

But even he couldn't have expected that when he sold the three-year-old gelding, it would be snapped up by George Baker & Partners.

Unfortunately the 20/1 horse didn't win the race… much to the annoyance of the countless George Bakers who had presumably placed a bet on it.

A greyhound race in Australia has been declared a 'no race' -- after a real-life hare ran across the track and distracted the dogs.

The dogs had been chasing the traditional faux bunny at Shepperton Stadium in Victoria, when the hare invaded the track.

It sprinted in front of the racers and crossed to the outside of the track - distracting the dogs, one of which chased after it.

Because third-placed Ginny Lou (20/1) rejected the robot rabbit for the real thing the race was voided.

After a hare-y few minutes the £19,000 of bets which had been placed was refunded to punters.

275x250.jpg A couple on a whale-watching trip near Cape Town, got a closer view than they expected when a massive 40-ton whale jumped from the sean and onto their yacht.

Amazingly, as they looked for whales, a massive 10 metre one leapt from the water off the coast of South Africa and headed straight for their diminutive yacht.

The Southern Right whale then smashed into the 33ft boat and snapped the mast before eventually sliding back into the water an swimming away.

Luckily the accident was caught on camera by a nearby tourist… otherwise no-one would have believed their whale of a tale.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a parasailing donkey flying over the sea in Russia, obviously.

A Russian leisure firm is being investigated by police on animal cruelty charges after using a flying donkey in a stunt to promote their parasailing service.

Beach-goers looked on in a mixture of intrigue and horror as staff at the private beach club in Golubitskaya led a unwitting donkey towards their parasailing equipment.

The ass was then attached to the parachute harness, and before many sunbathers had worked out what was happening, it was launched high into the air.

Shocked holidaymakers watched as the terrified donkey spent the next 30 minutes flying over the the Sea of Asov… and wondered if they'd had one too many holiday cocktails.

275x250.jpg As races go it was not the most action-packed, and despite taking 3m 41s to complete the finely honed athletes only covered 13 inches. Welcome to the World Snail Racing Championship 2010.

The obviously prestigious event takes place annually in Norfolk and sees more than 200 of the world's speediest snails compete in the races which each start with a ref saying: "Ready, steady, SLOW!"

The racers are started at the centre of a circular table and sprint to the circular finish line 13 inches away. After a series of round the winner scoops a silver tankard filled with lettuce.

This year the honour went to Sidney the snail (and 62-year-old owner Claire Lawrence) took the title in a leisurely 3m 41s… that's longer than the 1500m race at the Olympics.

275x250.jpg An ice cream van for pampered pooches is opening in London -- with bizarre icy flavours including gammon and chicken.

Scientists created the ice cream treats to be ideal for doggy tastes by finding the perfect combination of temperature, texture and taste for them.

Now the K99 van will appear at parks across London over the summer, starting with the Boomerang Pets Party in Regents Park this Saturday.

While bosses appear to have planned the 99p charity donation doggie delights down the the smallest detail there's one thing they forget… dogs have nowhere to carry change.

275x250.jpgAn environmentalist diver has become an online hit after recording a video of himself serenading a man-eating shark.

Andy Brandy Casagrande started off by scuba diving into shark-infested waters off Guadeloupe Island, Mexico while clutching his guitar.

He then started singing and playing his shark friendly ditty "The Great White Shark Song" as a pal filmed him swimming next the giant beasts.

The resulting music video has become an internet hit. But how could it not with classic lyrics like: "If I was a great white I wouldn't bite you, but I'd swim right next to you".

Andy says he recorded the song to prove sharks are not as fearsome as most people think… unless they don't like the music you're playing.

Researchers have discovered gorillas often play games of tag, in much the same way as school-children in a playground.

Experts say they observed the games - where the apes would hit a playmate and then run away - between infant and teenage gorillas in a series of German zoos.

During the hit-and-run games the apes would swap roles, with the chaser becoming the chased and trying to get away.

Behavioural biologists from the University of Portsmouth say this shows how apes test the limits of what is acceptable behaviour and to test their peers and even their parents.

However, we think it shows our dreams inter-species games of tag could yet become a reality.

275x250.jpg A drunk man broke into an Australian wildlife park because he wanted to ride and pat a giant 16ft long crocodile -- amazingly he wasn't killed.

The sloshed 36-year-old had just been chucked out of a local pub in Broome when he decided his night wouldn't be complete without a ride on a croc.

He proceeded to climb over a fence and into the wildlife park where he was confronted by the 800kg saltwater crocodile called Fatso (pictured above), which he then tried to ride.

Unsurprisingly Fatso snapped at the drunk fool, tearing a chunk of flesh from his leg. But he didn't kill him, as might have been expected, and let him escape… maybe he doesn't like his meat marinated in beer.

275x250.jpgPaul the psychic octopus - fresh from a string of correct predictions at the South Africa World Cup - is retiring from the soothsaying business.

Correctly predicting the result of eight football games in a row, Paul - known as 'oracle of the deep' - became a bigger star than Wayne Rooney.

But now bosses at the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, where he lives, say he's retiring from making predictions, despite his uncanny ability.

A spokesperson said the two-year-old cephalopod will go back to his old job of "making children laugh" ratherr than the "oracle business".

She added they'd received several offers for Paul from betting firms, but insisted he was not for sale… we wonder if he can foresee being kidnapped by a gambling ring any time soon.

275x250.jpgA kleptomaniac kitty has been reported to police after owners realised he was stealing underwear from their neighbours.

Each day Oscar the cat burglar would return to his Southampton home with socks and knickers as gifts for his new owners.

But they began to worry the missing underwear could get reported to police as a theft and decided to contact themselves and report their pet.

Owner Peter Weismantel says he was forced to make the move when their daily  10 kitty-nicked items began to include children's underpants and sexy lingerie.

It's not known how Oscar's criminal tendencies will be curbed… or whether Peter's neighbours believe his stories.

275x250.jpgA psychic octopus dubbed 'oracle of the deep' has predicted Spain will win the World Cup final against Holland on Sunday.

Paul - who lives at the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen - currently has a 100% prediction record after correctly foreseeing all the Germany results.

He predicts winner by eating mussels from a box draped in the flag of the team he thinks will win, sometimes taking as long as an hour to pick.

But this time the canny cephalopod took just ten minutes to predict Spain will win the South Africa World Cup final.

The news will no doubt go down well in Spain… much like a squid paella. 

Two people have been gored, and four more injured, during the second day of the Pamplona bull-running festival in Spain.

One of the men is said to be in serious condition after being gored in the thorax, while the other is doing better having only taken one to the leg.

The pair are just the latest to be injured during the San Fermin event in which thousands of people dash to escape bulls charging from a holding pen to the northern town's bull ring.

Yesterday two people were said to have been injured with locals blaming "clumsy tourists" for the accidents - many more injuries are expected by the end of the nine-day festival.

However, rather than constantly update you with the ongoing number of gorings and injuries let's just say now there will be more and leave it at that.

275x250.jpgPaul the 'psychic' octopus has done it again, he correctly predicted the result of the World Cup clash between Spain and Germany.

Dubbed 'oracle of the deep' Paul - who lives at the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany - kept his 100% record if foreseeing the results of his homeland.

Earlier in the week the eight-legged mystic made his prediction by eating mussels from a box draped in the flag of the team he thought would make it into the final.

And last night, as a Carlos Puyol goal sealed the 1-0 win for the Spanish, Paul notched up yet another correct prediction, reaffirming his position as the real star of this World Cup.

In fact, his predictions have been so much better than pundits like Gary Linekar and Adrian Chiles we think Sky Sports should snap him up to front their Premier League coverage, what do you reckon?

275x250.jpg Feeding sheep curry spices could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help save the planet, claim experts.

Boffins from Newcastle University say a trial has shown the level of methane produced by sheep can be reduced by 40 percent if they eat certain spices.

It's said munching coriander and turmeric – traditionally used in curries – works like an antibiotic killing off methane producing bacteria in the stomach.

The impact could be huge when considering Defra say there are currently 30 million sheep in the UK, each producing around 20 litres of methane a day… and you wondered what that smell was in the countryside.

275x250.jpgA brave 16-year-old schoolgirl has raised money for charity by 'growing' a beard made from hundreds of bees.

Nellie Odam-Wilson got the bees to land on her chin and neck by placing a Queen Bee on her face and therefore attracting the rest of the swarm.

The youngster - who works part-time at Quince Honey Farm in Devon - completed the feat to raise £400 for a charity trip where she will work at a Ugandan orphanage.

She says the bees were incredibly itchy and though they were only on her face for around seven minutes it felt like much longer.

Slightly worryingly farm owner Ian Wallace added that it was the first time someone had done the stunt without getting stung… we wonder if he told her that beforehand.

275x250.jpgA "psychic" octopus with an uncanny ability to predict the result of World Cup football matches has tipped Spain to beat Germany in the semi-final.

Paul the octopus, from he Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany has so far correctly predicted all the  games involving the national team.

His predictions involve handlers at the attraction putting two boxes of tasty mussels into his tank, each with the flag of one team on the front.

The mussels he goes for first are then taken to be his "psychic" prediction and bookies claim many people even place bets on the back of them.

However, the creature has a less then perfect record when these two teams meet - during Euro 2008 he wrongly picked Germany as the victor against Spain. If he is right this time he could end up in a paella.

Police in Florida have found an unusual way of deterring crime -- riding through busy bars on horseback.

Officers say entering bars and clubs on horseback shows a stronger police presence and makes people less likely to commit crimes.

And looking at this video we think it could work, you wouldn't want to get busted at the bar by this guy would you?

However, some businesses in Tampa are said to be worried that when it's busy over a weekend someone could get hurt or even trampled by a horse.

Unsurprisingly videos of the horses walking into bars have also become an online hit -- and prompted one too many 'a horse walks into a bar' jokes.

275x250.jpgA tiny chick which was born with curled toes has been given a pair of specially made slippers to allow him to walk.

When the baby African Crowned Crane was born at a wildlife centre in Cornwall staff noticed a defect with his feet.

Because his toes were curled he couldn't walk and bosses at Paradise Park in Hayle were worried for the bird, which had been abandoned by his mother.

Staff started hand-rearing him and put bandages on his feet to allow him to walk upright. When that worked, they decided to make the tiny 2.5cm slippers.

The little bird - which should grow to 4ft tall - is now happy running around with his other furry friends… which are all jealous of his footwear.

275x250.jpg An Olympic sprinter who can run 100m in a speedy 10 seconds has competed in a weird 'Man v Horse' race -- and comprehensively lost.

Jamie Baulch - who won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics - took on Peopleton Brook in the odd £10,000 race at Kempton Park last night.

Despite taking an early lead over the 16 hands thoroughbred, Baulch - who hasn't run competitively in years - was easily passed with 40m to go and ended up well behind.

Peopleton Brook finished in 10.06 seconds and immediately started talking about wanting a race against Usain Bolt -- well we think he would have done if he could speak.

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