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How bizarre!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-05-28 08:02:01
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Tokyo keepers catch fugitive Penguin

bir001_400A young penguin which escaped from a Tokyo aquarium has been caught after more than two months on the loose in the Japanese capital. The Humboldt penguin scaled a wall and slipped though a fence at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in March. It has since been spotted several times swimming in rivers running into Tokyo Bay, but had eluded keepers. The one-year-old fugitive was finally recaptured on Thursday evening.

Two keepers went to a river after a sighting of the penguin was reported in the morning. They managed to catch it later that day on the river bank, a spokesman for Tokyo Sea Life Park. The penguin - known only as 337 - was being examined by experts but appeared to be in good condition. "It hasn't lost weight," the spokesman said. "It hasn't got fatter either but its health seems good."

After the penguin escaped, the aquarium launched an appeal for help and sent employees out searching.  On one occasion Japanese coast guards spotted the penguin and followed it but were unable to secure it.  Kazuhiro Sakamoto, vice-head of the aquarium, told Kyodo news agency he was "relieved to see the penguin come back alive".  The penguin is one of 135 penguins at the park. Humboldt penguins breed on the Pacific coast of South America and offshore islands of Chile and Peru. They are thought to be declining in number. One of the reasons is due to increasing water temperatures caused by the El Nino effect and reduced food supply.


German town hit by new plague of rats

bir002The fabled German town of Hamelin may need a new rat-catcher after it emerged that rodents had gnawed through a cable powering one of its fountains. Hamelin is popular with tourists because of the legend of the Pied Piper who ended its plague of rats in 1284. The Brothers Grimm told of how a man in colourful garb charmed the rodents into the River Weser, where they drowned. But now the rats have staged a comeback, officials say, lured by food left by the tourists for the birds.

This is not the first time that Hamelin in Lower Saxony - called Hameln in Germany - has struggled with rats in recent years. In 2008, discarded food and rubbish made an allotment site outside the town a haven for the rodents. But the fountain, which was erected close to the railway station in the 1980s, is much nearer the centre and has dried up.

Although Hamelin officials are keen to rid themselves of their latest infestation, they appear to have little interest in repairing the fountain's broken cable. Town spokesman Thomas Wahmes said the fountain had already become a problem because of the number of leaves that had to be cleared away on a regular basis: "The fountain is peculiarly hard to maintain and the piping is broken," spokesman Thomas Wahmes told the Deister and Weser Zeitung.


Missing kids vandalized Dixon home

bir003_400Three children found in a vacant house Wednesday managed to do about $10,000 in damage before they were found, police said Thursday. The 6-, 7-, and 8-year-olds got in through an unlocked back door and went through every room in the two-story house at 320 Poplar St., which is up for sale, spray-painting walls and windows, spilling paint on carpets and breaking items, Lt. Clay Whelan said. Under Illinois law, children younger than 10 cannot be charged with a criminal offense, nor can their parents, although they may be liable for the damage, Whelan said.

The parents have been “fully cooperative” and have indicated the trio, two boys and a girl, will be involved with the cleanup, he said. About 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, the father of the 8-year-old was contacted after he failed to show up at school. The 7-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister also didn’t show up for school. The three were last seen at Reagan Middle School around 7:30 a.m., where they were supposed to catch a bus to their elementary school.

Police and community members went on the hunt, and found them around 1 p.m. Before the Poplar Street home, the three got into a vacant home on Division Street; they told police they found a key. No damage was reported there, but real estate agents said the box that held a key to the home was missing, Whelan said. When asked why the kids damaged the home, Whelan chalked it up to “kids being kids.”

“The opportunity just presented itself.”


Barry offends Polish-Americans while apologizing to Asian-Americans

bir004When apologizing to the Asian community for comments he made last month, D.C. councilmember Marion Barry may have offended another minority group on Thursday: Polish people. Barry said the U.S. has had racial tensions since its founding. "The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell," Barry said. "We want Ward 8 to be the model of diversity."

The word "Polack" is a derogatory term that describes people of Polish descent. Barry was at a meeting with Asian-American advocacy groups at the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church where he was expected to apologize for comments he made at an election night victory party. "We gotta do something about these Asians coming in, opening up these dirty shops," he said on April 3. "They got to go. I'll say that right now."

Other speakers at Thursday's event were David Chung, a member of the city Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs commission, who sharply criticized Barry and what some called a "non-apology" for his Asian-American comments at a D.C. Council meeting last month. "The councilman joining us today is a positive first step toward healing racial tension," Chung says.

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