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Belgian report Belgian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-07 10:26:47
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Five Sisters latest additions bearing up nicely

Three circus bears rescued from homelessness in Belgium are ‘bearing up’ nicely as they settle in to their new home at the Five Sisters Zoo. Carmen, Suzy and Peggy arrived late last Thursday night after being transported by road and ferry from their old home. The trio spent 20 years living in cages barely bigger than themselves, and were transported around Europe as part of a circus troop. They were rescued in Belgium and taken on by the Five Sisters Zoo in Polbeth. All three of the bears were born in captivity and are now aged between 23 and 28 years. Now the bears are getting used to their new home which has a large built-in waterfall and stream with indoor and outdoor enclosures.

The Courier first revealed in September 2010 that zoo owners Brian Curran and wife Shirley planned to bring the three European brown bears to West Lothian. Then in August last year, after getting the green light from the Belgian government, the Courier helped launch the appeal for £80,000 to build the enclosure and kit it out with the ‘bear necessities’ they need. However, despite overwhelming support from the public and celebrities — which helped to raise just over £61,000 — they are nearly £20,000 short of their target and are now left footing the bill themselves. But Brian, who accompanied the bears on their journey, is just delighted to see them here saying: “Everything went as well as could be expected and there were no great hiccups. We had to get past two big inspections for the enclosure as well and the last one was only two days before the bears were due to arriving so that added to the stress and anticipation.”

However, Brian said the reaction to their arrival has made all the hard work worthwhile. He added: “The visitor numbers for Saturday and Sunday were great. The car park was full on both days and there is a big interest in them. Sunday was the first day we let them out into the big enclosure. We began by alternating them but now we can let Carmen and Suzy out at the same time. At some point in the next few weeks we will let all three out together. Because Peggy has been separated from Suzy and Carmen for so long they need time to get used to each other. They are not used to a regular regime and are used to having their food handed to them. We are going to try and get them searching for their food and foraging in the leaves and raking in log piles. They were out there in the snow on Tuesday but they took it all in their stride...”


Study finds 3 ways parents can cut kids' soda consumption

The best way for parents to reduce the amount of soft drinks their young children drink is to not serve it with meals, a new study suggests. The findings from researchers in Belgium showed that children from higher-income families drank less than half — about 42 percent — as much soda as children from lower-income families. However, the vast majority of the difference between the income groups could be explained by three parenting practices: not offering soda at mealtimes, not letting kids drink soda whenever they want, and not keeping soda in the house, according to the study.

"Parents have a great influence through the food they make available and accessible to the child, their own nutritional behavior and by child-feeding practices," the researchers wrote in their study, published online April 1 in the journal Appetite. Reducing the amount of soda kids drink is important, the researchers say, because sugary beverages have been linked with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.


Belgium's Muslims in shock after deadly mosque arson

The suspected arsonist behind a deadly fire at a Brussels mosque said Tuesday he set the Shiite place of worship ablaze to scare the community he blames for the violence in Syria, officials said. Belgium's Muslim community was in shock a day after the attack that left an imam dead. The suspect, a self-described Muslim in his mid-30s, told investigators he sought to "scare" the Shiite community as it was allegedly responsible for Syria's crackdown on dissent, the public prosecutor's office said. Under questioning the man said "he was shocked by the pictures of what was going on in Syria and wanted to do something to scare members of the community which was responsible" for the violence, spokesman Jean-Marc Meilleur told the press.

The suspect, who presented himself as a Sunni Muslim, was charged with arson resulting in death and remanded in custody. The fact that the attack late Monday was based on religious beliefs is an aggravating factor, said Meilleur. The man told investigators he had acted alone and decided to carry out the attack two weeks ago but had had no intention to kill. If not arrested he would have surrendered to the police, he also told the authorities. As investigators interrogated him, members of Belgium's Shiite and Sunni communities met to ensure calm after the arson attack, which also left two other people injured. Interior Minister Joelle Milquet suggested inter-religious strife may be to blame after the man stormed into the Rida mosque with an axe, a knife and fuel, shouting about the conflict in Syria.

"It appears to be a problem between Sunnis and Shiites," Milquet told RTBF broadcaster. "Belgium will not tolerate this type of act and the importing of this type of conflict on its territory," she said, adding that the government would take "all necessary measures" in coming days to prevent attacks. Centuries-old tensions between Islam's Sunni and Shiite movements have fuelled violence in several Muslim countries, from Iraq to Yemen and Pakistan. But the vice president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium (EMB) group, Isabelle Praile, rejected any links between conflicts abroad and the arson, calling it "an isolated case". While insisting the two communities live in peace in Brussels, she did call for extra security for worshippers, saying that the attack "revived a feeling of insecurity among Shiites".

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